Updated: Jan 5
Acquiring a Ph.D. is not a straight path. There are curves, corners, and sometimes it may even feel like you're going in circles. However, the idea of a Ph.D. is simple: to gain expertise in your field by doing advanced research and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
There are many factors that can influence the success of a student to complete their Ph.D. in a timely manner. Successful completion of a Ph.D. requires not only academic knowledge but also professional skills. The process of training students in these skills begins at the point where they accept an offer to study towards a Ph.D. qualification.
The mentorship system in Ph.D. programs is a unique system that allows the students to learn from their mistakes and develop professional skills. It helps them to be self-directed and work on their research at their own pace.
These are some major points on why does mentorship matters in a PhD
1. Achieving The Impossible Goals
The idea that you can achieve something amazing on your own is a popular misconception. The truth is, great things are achieved through the help of others. Whether it's a friend lending you notes or a professor guiding you through the first few steps of your research project, collaboration makes success possible. It also helps to have someone who believes in you and your career goals – especially when those goals seem impossible to reach.
2. Professional Development
One of the most effective ways for professional development during a Ph.D. is by finding the right mentor. To get ahead in your career, it is important to surround yourself with positive people who are willing to help you learn and grow. A mentor can be a great resource as they provide insight and advice on various aspects of a degree or career.
Effective mentorship provides aspects of both psychosocial and career support and may include role modeling, advising, sponsorship, and helping mentees develop a supportive network of other mentors and peers (Dahlberg ML, Byars-Winston A, Oct 30, 2019).
When building a relationship with a mentor, ensure that you have an open line of communication and set clear expectations. Make sure you have time to invest in maintaining this relationship so that you receive meaningful feedback and advice that can help you improve.
3. Mindful Sessions To Boost Productivity
Mindfulness is a great way to enhance your productivity and creativity. It allows you to see your problems from a different perspective, without letting your emotions get in the way. Mentorship is also a great way to stimulate productivity and creativity. But what happens when you combine mindfulness and mentorship into one practice?
This could be a weekly session with a mentor who can help you in your research or thesis writing. Or a session with a mentor who can help you think better about your research, and give you more clarity about what to do next. This can be anyone you choose - an academic mentor, a subject expert, someone who is an expert in this field, and so on.
The main purpose is to have a conversation with someone whose experience and background are different from yours. This way you will get to listen to what it is like from the other person’s perspective and utilize their expertise for your research.
4. Access The Right Resources
Seeking good resources is one of the most common challenges among Ph.D. students. They struggle to find relevant research material, courses, and other resources that can be helpful for them in their dissertation writing and academic studies.
In this case, the best thing they can do for themselves is to find a mentor. Having a mentor is an amazing way to learn from people who have been in our shoes. A lot of times, we get so bogged down by the research that we forget what this is really about. A mentor will help keep them on track by providing the right resources at the right time and pushing them to work hard and succeed.
Mentors help less experienced students better understand the student role (Palmer, Hunt, Neal & Wuetherick, 2015) and how to use that knowledge to achieve important goals such as completing their degrees (Collier, 2015, p.37-8).
5. Accelerate Your Ph.D. Research
You can achieve incredible things when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. But most people don’t get the chance to work with peers and mentors who can help them accelerate their learning.
A mentor can help you navigate the challenges you face in your research; they can also be an excellent source for brainstorming and bouncing around ideas thus accelerating your progress. Having a mentor can help you stay on track and reduce anxiety by having someone outside your immediate circle of friends to ask questions to.
Good News for Ph.D. Students & Candidates Who Want to Finish Sooner Rather Than Later
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Dahlberg ML, Byars-Winston A (Oct 30, 2019), editors National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Policy and Global Affairs; Board on Higher Education and Workforce; Committee on Effective Mentoring in STEMM;. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1, Introduction: Why Does Mentoring Matter? Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK552767/
Palmer, R.J., Hunt, A.N., Neal, M. & Wuetherick, B. (2015). Mentoring, Undergraduate Research, and Identity Development: A Conceptual Review and Research Agenda, Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 23:5, 411-426, https://doi.org/10.1080/13611267.2015.1126165
Collier, P. J. (2015). Developing effective student peer mentoring programs: A practitioner’s guide to program design, delivery, evaluation, and training. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.