Establishing Shared Expectations

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The relationship between a faculty mentor and graduate student is critical to the success of both individuals. A recent study published in Nature Biotechnology investigated the influence of that relationship on the wellbeing of graduate students. “These data indicate that strong, supportive and positive mentoring relationships between graduate students and their PI/advisors correlate significantly with less anxiety and depression,” the authors say. A key element to developing a positive and supportive relationship between advisors and students, as well as across research groups, is the establishment of shared expectations.

All faculty advisors and graduate students are encouraged to hold conversations, one-on-one, as labs/research groups, and as a department, to establish shared expectations for the students, the mentors, and the departments. These conversations should be ongoing, as needs and expectations may change over the course of a student’s degree program.

Typical times may include

  • At the start of the program
  • As an advisor is being identified
  • As exams approach
  • At the time of the thesis/dissertation topic is proposed
  • 6 months after the topic is approved
  • As the final submission and defense draws near

Click here (DOCX) to view and download the conversation guide.