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Research Staff Mentoring Arrangements

Introduction

The School expects that all research staff and particularly those in the early stages of a research career at the School should receive constructive advice on career development from senior colleagues.  In this context, the role of the Mentor is considered to be of vital significance.

All salaried research staff from Band 6 Research Officer level up to and including Band 7 Research Fellow level (regardless of the length of contract) should be assigned a Mentor by their Head of Department (HOD) or Research Centre Director (RCD), in discussion with the Principal Investigator (PI) for the project. 

Research staff above this level may request a Mentor via the PI or HOD/RCD. For new research staff, this should take place within 1 month of the researcher's appointment and the HOD/RCD will notify Human Resources that this has been done. The VCAC will receive a regular report on research staff and assigned mentors and follow up instances where a Mentor has not been allocated to a researcher.

Note: Departments and Centres may also wish to assign Mentors for Band 5 Research Assistants.

The Mentor will normally be a senior researcher or member of academic staff with a similar research background within the researcher's Department/Centre. The Mentor may also be from a related Department/Research Centre. 

Note: The PI should not be the Mentor.

The Mentor will assume responsibility for regularly discussing the researcher's development in their career and provide advice on possible avenues for further development. (NB: Staff on any form of leave should not be appointed as Mentors.)

The Substance of the Mentoring Relationship

The duties of a Mentor include checking that the researcher has a well-framed programme on which progress is being made, and ensuring that his or her programme offers good scope for the development of research interests and techniques, whilst not being so time and energy consuming as to leave too little opportunity for further study, research and writing. The matters which fall within the scope of mentoring may include:

  • methodology of research and structure of programme
  • methods of addressing research problems and improving quality of outcomes
  • personal relationships with colleagues
  • administrative responsibilities and work balance
  • individual staff development needs
  • how to publish successfully
  • where to go for further support, advice and information

All Mentors are expected to arrange with the new colleagues allocated to them dates and times for discussions throughout the year. For the first 2 years, meetings should be taking place at least once per term, after which they can take place as and when needed, although not less than once annually. 

It may also be the case that the Mentor will be responsible for conducting the researcher's Annual Career Development Review Meeting (ACDRM).

The Mentor should feel able to offer criticism and advice which the new colleague, whilst encouraged to listen carefully, is not obliged to take.  The Mentor is not responsible for the researcher's career success within the School.

To gain from mentoring, new staff have to grasp the lessons and encouragement which the Mentor can offer; therefore the relationship must be a positive and trusting one. The HOD/RCD should be mindful of this need when allocating new Mentors. Any matter discussed remains confidential unless the new researcher reports to the HOD/RCD that the relationship is not a productive one. In this case, the HOD/RCD must seek to assign a different Mentor if possible, although it is not expected that for any one individual this change will be necessary more than once.

Note: Human Resources will contact Centres and Departments ahead of the Michaelmas term for names of mentors that have been assigned to research staff.

Taken from Guidance on Supporting and Managing Research Staff|, developed by Research Staff Committee 18 May 2011.

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