Professor mentoring graduate student on research

In order for research to proceed in a productive and professional manner, mentors and trainees should be aware of their responsibilities to one another. Mentors should treat trainees with respect and should clearly articulate what the expectations are for completing a relevant task. Correspondingly, trainees have academic and ethical obligations to their mentors.

Mentors should act responsibly and conduct research in a competent manner, which can help to impart valuable lessons to future professionals. As best as they can, mentors should clearly articulate expectations and foster an environment where communication is encouraged. As appropriate, mentors might develop with their trainees a timetable for completing specific objectives. Written progress reports could be considered in order to help ensure that there is ongoing communication between a mentor and a trainee.

Mentors should take steps to ensure that research is conducted in a collegial environment. This, in part, can be accomplished by managing and diffusing conflicts in a timely manner. Mentors should counsel trainees about how to work with collaborators and to treat them in a respectful manner. For example, a mentor can impart a valuable lesson by avoiding the use of personal attacks when talking about a graduate student with another trainee.

Historically, women and minorities were often been barred from contributing to research projects, including in science and engineering fields, which was partially due to discrimination. One way in which these types of behaviors can be combated is if mentors take the initiative to foster a collegial environment and send a clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated.

Within research environments, trainees also have their share of responsibilities in virtue of the position that they hold. One of the key responsibilities that trainees have is to conduct research honestly and diligently. The behavior of trainees while they conduct research reflects on their collaborators, their institution, and on the field within which they are working. Trainees should, for example, avoid interfering with the progress of their collaborators and should not use the resources of their institution wastefully.