Apr 23 2012 Published by drugmonkey under Conduct of Science, Postdoctoral Training
Seriously? People are complaining that mentoring in academic science sucks now compared with some (unspecified) halcyon past?
13 responses so far
Is this the no true mentor fallacy?
Historically there were fewer trainees per PI and each one was groomed into a Mini Me. I know/know of many PIs who struggle (or don't care) to mentor people with different backgrounds or goals than their own.
I consider a good mentor to be someone who recognizes and develops the skills of each individual. I suspect there are many faculty doing this in grad programs that DM would downgrade for not producing enough faculty.
Where are people making this complaint?
Who's complaining dude?
Hrmm. I think if you take two identical faculty members, and put one under substantial stress (need to publish to get tenure) and one under extreme stress (need to publish to get tenure, and bring in two R01 equivalents when paylines are low), the former will always be the better mentor. They'll have more time for it, for one thing.
I have no idea if you can get bad mentorship out of deadwood "Meh"- I suspect yes (though of course, some students benefit from independence, there are some important nuances here...), which is why I didn't stipulate that stress on the PI => bad mentorship. But a lot of performance-in-task-X-as-a-function-of-stress graph as inverted Us.
It depends on what is meant for 'mentor': in science, or in politics of science, or getting a good position (academic or other), keepping a good position, advancing and profitting of it any way possible?
Did I cover all possibilities?
Yeah, you find different degrees of good mentoring, or unusually and obviously selfish mentoring.
Again, all of this will be reduced to real normal numbers of good 'mentorship' if work and money for research matches the pipeline numbers. Because mentors don't want to loose their jobs to the competition they trained so well to replace them in just a few years down the road.
The world needs to fix the economic system and stop competing for which political system is the best, because all of them have failed in terms of yielding a very advanced and futuristic society.
i am a grad student and i don't want to be mentored, i just want my PI to publish my data so that I can move on to post doc.....without papers i can't find a post doc, my PI doesn't want me to go soon so no papers for me...this is no mentoring....
Which level are we talking about? Graduate students? Post-doctoral fellows? New faculty? It makes a big difference.
My own experience with mentoring is the issue is not the absence but the perceived (often not actual) differences that are noted by peers. In a high stress environment, people leap quickly to claims of unfairness. Often these are groundless claims.
In my experience, it's not that mentoring is absent but mentors are just not mind-readers and have a ton to juggle especially with large research groups. I found it much better when I told a mentor/advisor straight out what I needed from hir (specific types of advice, introductions etc). It made everyone more honest in the long run.
I found it much better when I told a mentor/advisor straight out what I needed from hir (specific types of advice, introductions etc).
There is plenty of shitte that you need from a mentor that you don't even know you need. Good mentoring involves more than just giving trainees what they ask for.
Agreed PhysioProf. There are also a lot of intangibles that great mentors have. Above all else though, I think leadership is perhaps the most important quality of a good mentor. You don't need your mentor to be your friend, mum or dad, you just need them to guide you to the place that you want to go. Of course, this is easier said than done.
dude, the only shitte mentors need is the friends/influence to get their postdocs tt jobs. any postdoc who can't figure out how to be a scientist on their own isn't worth their pittance salary.
DrugMonkey is an NIH-funded researcher who blogs about careerism in science. And occasionally about the science of drug use.
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