Mentoring at UNMC

A high quality postdoctoral training experience depends upon a realistic and productive relationship between a postdoctoral scholar and a mentor. UNMC is committed to facilitating such relationships by offering the highest levels of structural oversight, training, and supplemental workshops and seminars. Acquiring these associated skills are necessary for an independent career.

“Postdocs reporting the greatest amount of structural oversight and formal training are much more likely to say they are satisfied, to give their advisors high ratings, to experience relatively few conflicts with their advisors, and to be more productive in terms of number of publications compared with those with least oversight (p<0.0001) and training (p<.002)” (2005 Sigma Xi Survey of 7,600 U.S. postdocs).

OBLIGATIONS OF A FACULTY MENTOR

  1. Ensures that a mutually agreed upon set of expectations and goals are in place at the outset of the postdoctoral training.
  2. Provides adequate facilities, resources and guidance to achieve the agreed upon goals of the project.
  3. Ensures timely submission of the scholar’s research for publication/presentation and that he/she gets appropriate credit
  4. Provides adequate guidance and mentoring in manuscript preparation and presentation of scientific information.
  5. Reviews scholar’s performance annually, in terms of research endeavor and career development. A copy of the evaluation, countersigned by the scholar, should be made available to the scholar and postdoctoral education office.
  6. Ensures that a scholar attends Orientation and mandatory Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) workshop in the freshman year.
  7. Encourages scholars to attend career development workshops/seminars (i.e., grant-writing workshops, placement workshops and workshops to improve scientific writing and presentation).

Oversight of training at UNMC (in temporal sequence):

Appointment letter: Oversight  starts with the letter of appointment that details terms of the appointment, salary (UNMC follows the minimum salary level for freshman postdocs), benefits, and UNMC policy for postdoctoral scholars (handbook)

Orientations: The postdocs must attend the mandatory New Employee Orientation within a month of joining UNMC (offered the first Tuesday of every month) detailing policies, guidelines, obligations and rights.

In addition, the Office of Postdoctoral Education offers an orientation session each fall to familiarize scholars with the Office, structured oversight, training, sponsored programs, and intellectual property policies.

Individual Development Plans (IDPs): IDPs provide framework for helping postdocs identify their short- and long-term career objectives, set attainable career goals, and discuss their career plans with their mentors. We are encouraging both the scholars and mentors to set up IDPs early in order to reach their respective objectives realistically and successfully without conflict. “A postdoc with an IDP is 40% less likely to be dissatisfied, 30% less likely to have conflict, and has 14% more papers for publication than the one without a plan” (Sigma Xi Survey).

Annual Evaluation:The Annual Performance Appraisal is an opportunity for a manager and an employee to meet and discuss organizational goals and objectives, talk about current performance, and set performance goals for the employee.This process will now be done through UNeVal and the Postdoc Coordinator will handle matching-up the mentors with the Postdocs. Evalutions will be sent out and due yearly two months before their contracts expire. Before the contracts can be renewed, these evaluations will need to be completed.

Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR): The Office of Postdoctoral Education facilitates UNMC’s dedication to the highest standards of research integrity and commitment to responsible and ethical conduct for everyone involved in research, including postdocs. The National Science Foundation requires training in the Responsible and Ethical Conduct of Research (RCR) for all students and postdocs supported by NSF projects. Therefore, freshman postdocs are required to complete an on-line course created and maintained by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) a nationally-recognized source for research-related training within three months of joining UNMC and attend an RCR workshop which is offered once a year in the Fall.

NOTE: Reappointment is conditional on the completion of the RCR training.

 


Other resources:

  1. On Being a Scientist: Responsible Conduct in Research  (National Academies Press)
  2. Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research, ORI (HHS)(PDF)
  3. NPA website
  4. NSF website
  5. Columbia University website