Mentoring Guidelines

Approved by the SBG Executive Committee on July 2, 2018

The Soils and Biogeochemistry Graduate Group (SBG) recognizes that the mentoring of graduate students by faculty is an integral part of the graduate experience for both students and faculty. SBG considers that faculty mentoring is broader than advising a student as to the program of study to fulfill coursework requirements and is distinct from formal instruction in a given discipline.

Mentoring encompasses more than advising on coursework, directing research, or serving as a role model. To facilitate optimal mentoring, SBG has outlined the following mentoring roles to guide the relationship between faculty and graduate students. Faculty and graduate students must realize that, while the major professor will be the primary mentor during a student's career at University of California - Davis, many of the mentoring "functions" defined below may be performed by program faculty other than the major professor. An important corollary to this recognition is that faculty members must realize that much of their interaction with all students has an important mentoring component to it. Graduate students also have responsibilities to insure successful mentoring and these are also indicated below.

Faculty have a responsibility to mentor graduate students. Mentoring is defined as:

I. Guiding students through degree requirements. This means:

  1. Providing a clear map of program requirements from the beginning, making clear the nature of the coursework requirements and qualifying examination, and defining a timeline for their completion.
  2. Providing clear guidelines for starting and finishing dissertation or thesis work, including encouraging the timely initiation of the dissertation or thesis research.

II. Guiding students through thesis or dissertation research. This means:

  1. Evaluating clearly the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s research.
  2. Encouraging an open exchange of ideas, including pursuit of the student’s ideas.
  3. Checking regularly on progress.
  4. Critiquing written work.
  5. Providing and discussing clear criteria for authorship of collaborative research.
  6. Assisting in finding sources to support dissertation research; such as, teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships, etc.
  7. Being aware of student's research needs and providing assistance in obtaining required resources. For example, serve as the student’s advocate for necessary desk and/or laboratory space.

III. Guiding students through ethical and professional development. This means:

  1. Providing guidance and serving as a role model for upholding the highest ethical standards.
  2. Treating students respectfully.
  3. Encouraging and critiquing oral presentations and written assignments.
  4. Encouraging participation in professional meetings of local, regional, and national groups as well as of learned societies.
  5. Facilitating interactions with other scholars, on campus and in the wider professional community.
  6. Assistance with applications for research funding, fellowship applications, and other applications as appropriate for the respective discipline.
  7. Being the student’s advocate in academic and professional communities.
  8. Providing career guidance, specifically assistance in preparation of CV and job applications and interviews, and writing letters of recommendation in a timely manner.
  9. Recognizing and giving value to the idea that there are a variety of career options available to the student in her/his/your field of interest and accepting that the student's choice of career options is worthy of your support. For example, guiding the student to teaching opportunities when appropriate for the student's goals.

As partners in the mentoring relationship, graduate students have responsibilities. As mentees, students should:

I. Be aware of their own mentoring needs and how they change through their graduate tenure. Graduate students should discuss these changing needs with their mentors.

II. Recognize that one faculty member may not be able to satisfy all of a student’s mentoring needs. Seek assistance from multiple individuals/organizations to fulfill the mentoring roles described above.

III. Recognize that their mentoring needs must respect their mentor’s other responsibilities and time commitments.

IV. Maintain and seek regular communication with their mentors, especially their major professor.