Post Doc Mentoring (NSF)

The National Science Foundation Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide includes the requirement that postdoctoral mentoring plans be included in all research proposals requesting funding to support postdocs. These are to be described in a one page supplementary document (see Chapter II, Section C, 2j) and will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts review criterion (see Chapter III, Section A).

If a Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan is required, FastLane will not permit submission of a proposal if the Plan is missing.

Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to:

  • career counseling,
  • training in preparation of grant proposals, publications, and presentations,
  • guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills,
  • guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas, and
  • training in responsible professional practices.

Investigators may seek to identify local resources and activities that provide mentoring opportunities (e.g., laboratory meetings and seminars, journal clubs, periodic individual meetings, participation in manuscript and grant proposal preparation, etc.)

Mentoring Resources

Texas A&M University provides a variety of resources that can play a role in mentoring postdoctoral researchers.

  • The Center for Teaching Excellence offers workshops on enhancement of the teaching practice, curriculum development, STEM teaching development, teaching portfolio development, etc., for those interested in an academic career.
  • The Offices of Research Compliance and Biosafety offers training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).  Training is offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative to familiarize researchers with research misconduct, data management, conflict of interest, collaborative science, responsible authorship, mentoring, peer review, animals research, and human subjects research. This training meets the National Science Foundation requirements for RCR training for student and postdoctoral researchers working on an NSF-sponsored project.
  • Texas A&M is a member of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network. CIRTL is an NSF Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education. CIRTL uses graduate education as the leverage point to develop a national STEM faculty committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences as part of successful professional careers. The goal of CIRTL is to improve the STEM learning of all students at every college and university, and thereby to increase the diversity in STEM fields and the STEM literacy of the nation. TAMU-CIRTL offers a Professional Development Program for Postdoctoral Researchers.
  • The Texas A&M Health Science Center offers a Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Seminar Series through their Internal Medicine department. This seminar series is designed to equip postdoctoral fellows with the knowledge and skills to take ownership of their career paths and success as scientific professionals.  This program originates on the Temple campus and is videocast to other health science center campuses.

Other institutions, professional organizations, and federal departments provide resources germane to professional development, mentoring, ethics, and the responsible conduct of research. These include:

  • The University of Illinois hosts the National Center for Professional & Research Ethics. The Center, sponsored by NSF, gathers and disseminates ethics resources, including educational curricula and online courses, reference materials, scholarly and research literature, and resources available for use in RCR education required by NSF and other funders of research. In addition, the site’s interactive community offers a place where users can publish and share scholarship, discuss ethics-related issues for professionals and researchers, and develop and share new course offerings.
  • The National Academy of Engineering Online Ethics Center provides resources for the exploration of issues in the responsible conduct of research among students, postdoctoral fellows, and research fellows in a modular course in research ethics, as well as providing case studies and commentaries written by graduate students and postdocs.
  • The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has created a Compact between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors, which is "intended to initiate discussions ...about the postdoctoral appointee-mentor relationship and the commitments necessary for a high quality postdoctoral training experience." The AAMC suggests various ways it can be used in order to create mutual expectations for training between postdocs and their mentors.
  • The AAMC also has created a Compact between Biomedical Graduate Students and Their Research Advisors, which "are intended to support the development of a positive mentoring relationship between the pre-doctoral student and their research advisor." The AAMC suggests possible uses for the Compact which sets broad guidelines to initiate discussions about the student-mentor relationship.