Information for Mentors

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Information for Mentors

Advising a student researcher as they conduct a study can be very rewarding. Here are general guidelines, expected tasks, and tips for undergraduate student research mentors:

  • Define a contract agreement with your student that includes time requirements, performance expectations, and expected publishing outcomes of the research work (to be published alone or with mentor).
  • Invest sufficient or considerable time in your student —including weekly conferences to discuss results— and help to focus or refocus the direction of the project.
  • Encourage your student to manage time and integrate the existing and developing literature related to research.
  • Provide constructive feedback.
  • Provide and identify resources that would enable your student to successfully conduct research.
  • Provide guidance for technical understanding.
  • Provide guidance for research ethics.
  • Assist your student in understanding and adhering to the standards of conduct within his/her profession.
  • Assist with project completion scheduling.
  • Be certain that research goals are realistic when considered in view of the experience and past course work of your student.
  • First year students are only a couple of months out of high school. Therefore, be careful with expectations of the time commitment and background knowledge if you accept a first year student into your research program. Some mentors prefer new students because they want the student to be involved for four years. Other mentors only seek out juniors or seniors.
  • Meet outside the office or lab.
  • Help prepare your student for their future oral or poster presentations by including them in your own preparation of presentation materials.
  • Have weekly progress meetings to eliminate surprise and stress. The meetings can be as short as 10 minutes, or as long as needed.

For educators who are conducting research and would like to invite undergraduate students to become involved, contact the Center for Undergraduate Research so we can advertise the specifics of your study to students interested in gaining research experience.

Cal U is an institutional member of the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR). Additional information on all aspects of undergraduate research can be found at the CUR website. As an institutional member of CUR, any Cal U faculty or staff member can join CUR at no cost.

Cal U Wildlife Biology majors complete a chemistry experiment with professor Kimberly Womak in New Science Hall.