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How to Mentor Your Postdoc Students?

Having postdoc students or being in charge of them as a mentor implies that little is given and at the same time, much is expected. This is not just an assumption, but that’s the way the system in academia works. Realizing this fact at an early stage helps to enhance what will become of your postdoc students when they leave.

It is highly important for a postdoc student to have a good mentor. The roles of a mentor cannot be put aside during this program. If something similar to that is allowed, the whole program is going to end up in a total disaster. The role and importance of a mentor are far more different from that of a boss even though they are both superiors. In the case of academia such as postdoc, mentors are commonly referred to as research mentor, guide or advisor.

Despite the fact that management tools such as Mendeley reference manager and literature tool are at top of the game helping out with certain things, a good mentor also knows as research mentor is needed to put a postdoc student through. The primary purpose of running a postdoc program is to conduct research. Choosing a career path is a difficult task, not to talk of working in isolation. A postdoc student needs someone in a higher position, not particularly a Nobel laureate but someone capable of sharing research knowledge, challenges and ideas.

There are certain things that every research mentor must know and understand in order to transfer or perhaps teach postdocs as they get trained under them. These basic things will not only help improve their general knowledge but also the efficiency of their research work in the future. It will also help them gain independence in their postdoctoral career.  These key points that they must be taught includes:

  • Project Management – This has to do with the ability of a postdoc student to manage projects and research work. Imbibing this management skill will help boost the confidence of such a student.
  • Time Management – Time is a crucial factor in research. Lack of proper time management affects the result of research work. Learning how to adjust will fix the problem.
  • Ability To Work In A Team – The best of research work is never done in isolation; it takes collective effort or in other words, teamwork to make it happen. To survive, every postdoc must learn how to blend in and work in a team.
  • Leadership Skills – It is said that successful researchers always have that inbuilt leadership skill in them. Every postdoc should imbibe this spirit as well.
  • Language and Communication Skills – Communication takes place on a daily basis. To work in a team, a postdoc must know how to communicate effectively. In many cases ESL students face this problem not just with research paper writing but while presenting as well. Its mentor’s responsibility to guide them and point them to correct resources be it for language translation of their paper or their presentation for conferences.
  • Problem Solving Ability – This involves the ability of a postdoc to reason pass challenges and obstacles. Each and every postdoc needs to learn this.
  • Attention to Details – A postdoc needs to learn how to listen more and speak less.  With this, he or she will be able to pay more attention to his or her research work.
  • Interpretation of Information – Every person has a different perspective when it comes to interpreting information; hence it becomes crucial in scientific research industry to have a correct and constructive approach while interpreting data. Information interpretation is another thing that can only be learned from a research mentor.
  • Thinking Outside The Box – As a growing researcher, this is what defines a postdoc. He or she must learn how to think outside the box to become successful.
  • Ability to Collaborate – Collaboration is quite similar to teamwork, but it is different to some extent. Nevertheless, a postdoc needs to learn it.

Besides these, every research mentor has several other specific knowledge or skills to provide . Keeping these in mind will open new doors to hone new transferable skills and give postdoc students their freedom.

Author Bio – “This post is an excerpt of Experts feedback by Enago Academy which is a free knowledge sharing platform by Enago English Editing Services, created for ESL authors, early-stage researchers, and graduate students.

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