Nandini Bhattacharya & Noori Chai, smiling in front of a projection screen.

Research Mentorship


Effective mentorship in research settings plays an integral role in the success of graduate students, undergraduates, and postdocs; promotes belongingness at our institution; enriches the broader scholarly and academic community; and can support equity and inclusion within disciplinary communities. These resources aim to support both mentors and mentees in cultivating productive and rewarding mentorship relationships that effectively address the mentee’s goals for scholarly and professional development.

While these materials are focused on supporting graduate student mentorship, they can be adapted to apply to the mentorship of postdoctoral fellows and undergraduates in research settings.

Resources for Faculty Mentors

The following resources, based on current research on mentorship of graduate students, can guide faculty mentors in developing and sustaining effective relationships with their mentees.

Faculty Toolkit for Mentoring Graduate Students

Faculty mentorship not only plays an integral role in the success of graduate and post-doctoral students, but also enriches the broader scholarly community. Cultivating productive and rewarding mentorship relationships benefits mentees and mentors alike. Mentees become empowered to identify and pursue their academic and career goals, and mentors experience the opportunity of gratifying interpersonal relationships while advancing the discipline by counseling mentees in effective and innovative research, teaching practices, and professional development. Successful mentorship relationships depend on collaboration and the commitment of mentors and mentees to the common goals of scholarly enterprise, academic success, and professional development.

This toolkit offers an archive of resources related to the mentorship of graduate students. We have reviewed a host of materials and offer here those which we have found the most helpful.

Quick Guide to Mentoring Graduate Students

The Quick Guide to Graduate Student Mentorship provides a short list of actions geared towards successful graduate student mentorship. These competencies are adapted from the University of Michigan’s “How To Mentor Graduate Students: A Guide for Faculty” and Entering Mentoring (Pfund, Branchaw, and Handelsman 2014).

Tips for Meeting with Graduate Student Mentees

This guide provides advice on meeting with graduate students, including:

  1. Creating mentorship agreements
  2. Setting agendas
  3. Practicing active listening
  4. Summarizing take-aways
  5. Establishing expectations
  6. Addressing conflicts

Resources for Graduate Student Mentees

The TLC’s toolkit of resources for mentees provides support for graduate students in developing and sustaining effective relationships with their mentors.

Graduate Student Guide to Mentoring Relationships

Seeking out and cultivating productive, supportive mentorship relationships is not only key to your academic and professional success as you navigate graduate school, but also enriches the culture of collaboration and scholarly enterprise in your discipline. While you are a graduate student, your mentors can help you feel empowered to identify and pursue your academic and career goals, counsel you in effective and innovative research and teaching practices, and offer psychosocial support in navigating the challenges and responsibilities of your specific graduate program as well as your broader discipline and the institution.

This guide offers resources for graduate students who are eager to learn effective practices for pursuing and maintaining productive mentorship relationships with faculty members.

Graduate Student Mentorship Needs Checklist

By identifying your mentorship needs, you can approach faculty with a clear sense of your expectations for them as your mentor. Clearly communicating these needs at the beginning and revisiting them collaboratively over the course of your time working together is integral to the success of the relationship.

This checklist can also support you in figuring out if any particular forms of support you are seeking can be met by cultivating a larger network of mentors, from within or outside of your field.

Tips for Meeting with Faculty Mentors

This guide provides advice on meeting with faculty mentors, including:

  1. Creating mentorship agreements
  2. Setting agendas
  3. Identifying and communicating your aspirations
  4. Summarizing meetings
  5. Establishing expectations; and
  6. Addressing conflicts

Mentorship Templates

These mentorship tools can promote aligned expectations and effective communication in mentoring relationships, as well as facilitate the development of broader mentor networks.

Sample Individual Development Plan

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is an individualized planning tool used to identify and track long- and short-term academic and professional development goals, and can be a useful communication tool between mentees and their mentors. There are two widely used free online IDP tools: MyIDP (for those working in STEM fields) and ImaginePhD (for those working in the humanities and social sciences). IDPs are particularly great tools for discussing mentorship needs with a faculty mentor, and they can also be useful to bring to a peer mentor to ask for support in identifying resources related to specific goals.

Sample Mentorship Agreement

Mentors and their mentees may find it useful to collaboratively develop a practical mentorship agreement that establishes each person’s responsibilities and expectations as they relate to communication, goals, and meeting practices. Mentorship agreements can provide the structure and set of topics for a mutual discussion about aligning expectations.

Sample Mentor & Resources Map

Effective mentoring involves helping a mentee develop a supportive network of multiple mentors and peers to increase their access to resources and skill-development, and to promote a broader sense of belonging.

Faculty mentors and peer mentors alike can encourage mentees to fill out a mentor map to identify their broader networks and areas of need.