Vitae – poll results & resources

Vitae has published poll results, case studies and  resources related to mentoring and coaching for researchers.

Their definition of mentoring is interesting, especially as it relates to coaching (and the similarities/differences between the two):

What do we mean by coaching and mentoring – and what’s the difference?

The purpose of both coaching and mentoring is to help an individual to fulfil their potential through establishing a supportive and non-directive relationship. In both cases, conversations with the mentor or coach are used to help the individual to move forward in a particular area of life (such as professional development or career). The individual being coached or mentored is enabled to identify goals, actions or solutions and to make progress towards them. Relationships may be formal or informal, time-limited or open-ended.

There is considerable confusion and overlap in the way these two terms are used and in some cases one relationship might encompass both coaching and mentoring. The main concern of an individual seeking help is that it will enable them to achieve what they need. However, if you’re thinking of establishing a scheme and will need to define its aims and boundaries, it’s helpful to distinguish between the approaches:

  • Mentoring typically enables an individual to follow in the path of a more experienced colleague. The mentor can pass on specific knowledge and wisdom in an area that the mentee wishes to develop, can help them to identify and take up opportunities and introduce them to existing networks
  • Coaching can benefit an individual without the coach needing specialist knowledge in the field. The coach does not provide guidance, instruction, advice or solutions but regards their coachee as a creative and resourceful person and supports them to identify and embrace ways to move forward in a particular area of life.

N.B. The term ‘coaching’ may also be used to denote focused teaching or training (e.g. to pass an examination), but this is not the sense in which it’s used here.

Both coaching and mentoring are distinct from the listening therapies (counselling; psychotherapy) which may aim to resolve personal issues, unhelpful behavioural patterns or to enhance general or emotional wellbeing.


Check also the videos:

Series of interviews with principal investigators on mentoring research staff

#Vitaehangout: Will getting a mentor boost your career?

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