University Research Staff Mentoring Scheme

This page is for Oxford Brookes University staff. Its purpose is to explain internal processes to staff members. It was moved into its current location on the website in Autumn 2022.

Page content is being revised to reflect the move to the new Research, Innovation and Enterprise Directorate.

Mentoring is a developmental partnership in which a Mentee is guided by a more experienced Mentor, in this case a member of academic staff, who uses their expertise, knowledge and personal experience to help the Mentee achieve their work-related goals.

The scheme is open to all research-active staff, at any stage in their career, from research assistant to professor in all subject areas. 

Illustration of mentoring

You could be a Mentor

if you are:

  • a lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer, reader or professor
  • actively involved in research
  • interested in continuing professional development
  • able to spare approx 1hr a month

You could be a Mentee

if you are:

  • a research assistant, research fellow, early career academic, lecturer, senior lecturer, principal lecturer or reader
  • looking for guidance and support to develop your career
  • able to spare approx 1hr a month 

How to apply

Fill in an application form to register as Mentor, Mentee, or both:

Find out more

What are the benefits?

For mentors: gaining a fresh perspective; continuing professional development; achievement in seeing your Mentee progress; doing something amazing to bolster your CV or application for promotion.

For mentees: tapping the knowledge and ideas of a more experienced academic; access to a ‘neutral’ person to act as a sounding board; assistance with setting and working towards achieving career development goals.

How does it work?

  1. An annual call for mentoring in the next academic year goes out in May-June. The scheme is kept open all year round, so you can apply to join at any time, but the majority of matching takes place during June. Mentees and Mentors register by completing a brief application form, which provides key information for matching purposes.

  2. Mentees are matched with a Mentor on the basis of defined criteria for researcher development. The form asks Mentors to confirm their expertise, knowledge and experience in 26 specified areas, e.g. career development advice; winning research grants and managing rejection; writing, editing and publishing, etc. The same categories are presented to Mentees and this forms the basis for matching. Mentees are asked to select up to 3 areas for mentoring and to list them in order of priority.

    The University Mentoring Scheme is not meant to replace existing forms of subject-specific mentoring in departments/faculties but to provide supplementary cross-university support outside of the Mentee's immediate research area. The Mentee is assigned a Mentor from a different Faculty to their own, to facilitate an objective mentoring conversation.

    An email will be sent to both Mentee and Mentor, confirming the match and outlining the criteria for matching.

  3. It is the responsibility of the Mentee to arrange to meet with their Mentor. It is suggested that mentoring pairs meet for approximately 1 hour, once a month. At the first meeting, clear objectives/goals should be set, which are linked to the chosen criteria for matching. A simple "contract template" will be provided at the point of matching, which can help structure this initial meeting. Mentoring pairs should agree frequency and timing of meetings, ground rules for confidentiality, no go areas, responsibilities of each, record keeping, etc. Mentoring pairs will also receive some written guidance notes on good practice.

    Experience indicates that it is important to set a time limit on the mentoring and we suggest that it should be no longer than 1 year - but, of course, there is no reason why mentor and mentee may not stay informally in touch after the mentoring. University records will note that the mentoring partnership runs for 12 months from the date of the email confirming who you have been matched with.

  4. There will be an opportunity for both Mentee and Mentor to provide feedback at the end of the 12 month mentoring period, to help inform best practice and shape the future of the Research Staff Mentoring Scheme.

FAQs

I registered to become a Mentor but I haven’t heard anything. Why?

As soon as you apply to become Mentor, your details are added to the Mentor database. You remain in the Mentor database indefinitely, until you wish to leave the scheme. Matches are made with Mentees each year according to the unique combination of 3 areas for researcher development, as selected by the Mentee, and matches also always need to be made outside of the Mentee's Faculty, so if you were not matched in a particular year, it is entirely down to those reasons.

Whilst the scheme remains open all year round, the majority of matching takes place after the annual call, during June each year, so depending on the time of year that you joined the scheme, there may be a wait for potential Mentees.

The way the scheme works requires there to be more Mentors than Mentees, to ensure that a match can be made with a Mentor who can offer expertise in as many of the Mentee’s chosen areas as possible, so it is inevitable that every year there will be some Mentors who are not matched with Mentees. Even when you aren't matched, your role as registered Mentor is still recorded in the University records and celebrated by the University. Your expertise and experience as continuing Mentor are highly valued.

I was matched with a Mentor/Mentee, but I haven’t heard from them. What should I do?

Firstly, try to make contact with them again. A single email can easily be missed at busy times. Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, a change of circumstances or unexpected obligations mean that a Mentor/Mentee is no longer able to commit sufficient time to mentoring. So if, in spite of your best efforts, you are unable to elicit a response, please contact the scheme co-ordinator (Jennie Cripps, Researcher Development Co-ordinator, jcripps@brookes.ac.uk) as soon as possible, so that an alternative Mentee/Mentor can be put in place.

I’m not available to act as Mentor this year (e.g. planned sabbatical, parental leave) but I don’t want to leave the scheme. What should I do?

If you are temporarily unavailable for mentoring, please let the scheme co-ordinator (Jennie Cripps, Researcher Development Co-ordinator, jcripps@brookes.ac.uk) know which dates you are out of action. The university records will be updated, noting the date you wish to re-join the scheme.

I applied to receive mentoring last year. Can I apply again this year?

Yes, you absolutely can! There is no limit to the number of times you can apply to become Mentee. All we ask is that you complete a new Mentee form each year, so that you can be matched on the areas that you would like to develop in the coming year.

I benefitted from mentoring last year and now I’d like to join the scheme as Mentor myself. Can I?

Yes please! We strongly encourage researchers who have undertaken mentoring themselves as Mentee to join the scheme as Mentor. We need Mentors at every career stage. Previous Mentees also highly recommend applying to be both Mentee and Mentor concurrently, for the full mentoring experience.

Why does the mentoring partnership have to end after 12 months?

Experience indicates that, in order for the mentoring experience to be most effective, it is important to set a time limit and we suggest that it should be no longer than 1 year - but, of course, there is no reason why Mentor and Mentee may not stay in touch informally, after mentoring ends. The future success of the scheme is dependent on a fixed end point for the mentoring partnership, so that we have sufficient numbers of available Mentors to match with the next round of new Mentees.

I want to continue being mentored next year by my current Mentor. Is this possible?

When you apply to receive mentoring in the new mentoring year (annual call goes out in May), make a note on your Mentee form of the name of your current Mentor and your request to be matched with them again for one more year. The scheme co-ordinator will contact your current Mentor to make sure of their mentoring availability in the coming year and, following a positive response, you will be formally matched again for 12 months from the date of the email assigning you.

Why am I being asked to complete a feedback form in April when my mentoring doesn’t end until June?

This is in preparation for the next annual call for mentoring, which goes out in May. It gives both parties adequate notice that the mentoring partnership is approaching an end. We need to ensure that we have sufficient numbers of available Mentors for the next round of matching to take place in June.

The mentoring partnership isn’t working out. What do I do?

Very occasionally the match just doesn’t feel right and that is completely ok. If things aren’t working out, for any reason, please contact the scheme co-ordinator (Jennie Cripps, Researcher Development Co-ordinator, jcripps@brookes.ac.uk) and a new Mentor/Mentee can be assigned.

Contact

If you have any queries about the scheme, please contact Jennie Cripps, Researcher Development Co-ordinator