Person of Trust or Mentor

Despite best efforts, some doctoral researchers face difficulties such as problems in communicating with their advisors, stimulating academic exchange or lack orientation and guidance from a scholar or scientist who does not actively work in their field.

With respect to questions dealing with good scientific practice as well as scientific misconduct the UFZ has an elected ombudsperson.

Further, the HIGRADE supervision concept recommends to include a person of trust or mentor. The embodiment of this role can be tailored to the needs of the doctoral researchers and should be discussed and agreed on with the respective person.

Example of the experience of one of our doctoral researchers (mentee) and her mentor

Organization and contents of the mentor mentee relationship

- Preliminary talk to exchange goals and expectations
- one meeting to introduce subject, methodology and schedule of the planned PhD thesis (mentee)
- one meeting to introduce scientific projects of the mentor
- availability of the mentor for urgent requests of the mentee
- monthly informal meeting (during lunch) to exchange information on:

  • progress of the PhD thesis,
  • current issues/problems/questions on e.g. publications, supervision of students and guests etc.,
  • personal challenges during the PhD time,
  • priority setting and focusing on selected tasks/projects,
  • career options,
  • potential cooperation e.g. in context of new project proposals.

Benefits for the mentee

- insights into the routine and the challenges of a senior scientist and into a different research topic
- experienced contact person during the time as doctoral researcher, to ask for advice in urgent cases
- on important issues, the mentor provides an external, neutral opinion
- discuss structural issues and approaches
- discuss and find solutions for personal weaknesses and difficulties associated with the PhD thesis
- mentor shares her own experiences, which help to rethink difficulties and challenges and to see it from a different perspective

Benefits for the mentor

- getting insights in other areas of UFZ research,
- the opportunity to hear fresh ideas and receive stimuli from junior researchers,
- and, thereby, reflecting upon one's own work, positions and experiences in a different way,
- finding new cooperation opportunities,
- last but not least: "I enjoyed providing support for a young woman working in science."