Research and knowledge exchange

Mentoring for Researchers

Getting support from a mentor can be extremely helpful as you progress in your research career. You may choose to join a mentoring scheme or seek a mentor independently.

What is mentoring?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a mentor is "An experienced and trusted adviser"

Mentoring relationships can take many forms (one-to-one; group; senior-to-junior; junior-to-senior; peer-to-peer...), can arise naturally or be specifically organised, can be formal or informal and last short or long periods of time. 

The key to all mentoring relationships is that the mentor and mentee come together with the goal of advancing the professional (and personal) development of the mentee, often benefitting the development of the mentor too.

You do not need to be enrolled in a formal scheme to benefit from mentoring and many researchers choose to seek their own mentor either within or outside the University - however the University recognises the value of mentoring, and has created a framework and scheme to encourage one-to-one mentoring within and across Schools and Departments:

One-to-one mentoring

The benefits of a one-to-one mentoring relationship are:

  • Supportive relationship in which to explore and progress professional development goals
  • Learn from a more experienced colleague(s)
  • Tailored support and guidance appropriate to your situation / career stage
  • Confidential and objective discussions
Becoming involved in mentoring at Sussex - as a mentee or mentor

If you are a member of Sussex staff and would like to become either a mentee or mentor in the University scheme - look at the Organisational Development mentoring information pages, consider linking with a local mentoring co-ordinator or signing up for a workshop, and complete the relevant forms > to become involved

Making the most of your mentoring relationship
  • Before you enter a mentoring relationship be clear of your reasons for wanting to be mentored.
  • Have a clear idea of the type of support you require from your mentor (e.g. sounding board, providing feedback, challenging your assumptions, providing alternative perspectives…).
  • Research potential mentors within and outside your network. Ideally meet informally with a few potential mentors to see who you have a good rapport with.
  • If your mentoring requirements are diverse, you may need to consider having more than one mentor in order to meet your needs.
  • In your first mentoring meeting have an open discussion about your hopes and expectations of mentoring. Agree practicalities such as meeting times, duration of relationship, contact between meetings etc.
  • Be open and honest with your mentor, they can only help you based on the information you choose to disclose.
  • Keep to your commitments, follow through with agreed actions and be proactive in your development, both during and between mentoring meetings.
  • Find out more at the University's mentoring website: Mentoring at Sussex


Contact Us


T: 01273 877979

Research Staff Office, Research and Enterprise Services, Level 1, Falmer House, University of Sussex, BN1 9QF

  Twitter @SussexResearchr