Research Mentor Training

/Research Mentor Training
Research Mentor Training2018-10-01T18:24:19-04:00

Research Mentor Training

NRMN offers evidence-based training for mentors of research trainees in STEMM disciplines at different career stages, including undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty. The training is designed to help mentors develop skills for engaging in productive, culturally responsive, research mentoring relationships -- relationships that optimize the success of both mentors and mentees.

Our training uses a process-based approach that allows participants to explore an intellectual framework for research mentoring within a community of their peers. This approach provides mentors with opportunities for reflection and a forum to solve mentoring dilemmas and share successful mentorship strategies. You can read more about the development of these training materials here.

Our research mentor training materials are designed around key competency areas within research mentoring relationships. Themes include:

  • Aligning Expectations
  • Addressing Equity and Inclusion
  • Articulating Your Mentoring Philosophy and Plan
  • Assessing Understanding
  • Cultivating Ethical Behavior
  • Enhancing Work-Life Integration
  • Fostering Independence
  • Maintaining Effective Communication
  • Promoting Mentee Research Self-Efficacy
  • Promoting Professional Development

The Entering Mentoring curricula series addresses the new NIGMS guidelines regarding the preparation of mentors involved in training grants.

We offer customizable research mentor trainings led by NRMN Master Facilitators. These may be offered as a full 8-hour training over one or two days, or as a shortened workshop focused on a few themes. Customized trainings are available for the mentors of undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or junior faculty working with trainees across the STEMM disciplines. To request a research mentor training workshop, please complete this online form:

If you are interested in learning how to facilitate and implement research mentor training at your institution or organization, we offer facilitator training workshops. Participants in these workshops become familiar with the curricula, practice facilitating training components, and develop a plan for implementing the training.

We offer consultations to help you design local implementation plans and navigate challenges unique to your institution or organization. To request a consultation, please complete this online form:

Research mentor training based on the Entering Mentoring curricula has been tested and shown to be effective in increasing mentoring knowledge, skills, and behavior.1-3 Ongoing development and testing of new curricula and modules continue to show the impact of this training.

Here are some key findings across our curricula:

  • A combination of qualitative and quantitative data indicate that compared to untrained mentors, mentors who participated in Entering Mentoring were able to assess their mentees' skills more accurately and communicate with them more effectively. Moreover, undergraduate researchers indicated they had a better experience with the trained, as compared to untrained, mentors.3

Evidence of the effectiveness of Mentor Training for Clinical and Translational Researchers was tested through a national randomized controlled trial conducted with 283 mentor-mentee pairs from 16 institutions:

  • Mentors assigned to the training showed significantly higher skills gains compared with the control; this held true across career stage, institution, and gender. This also held true for all 6 competencies addressed in the training.1

  • Three months post training, 97% of trained mentors reported some change in their mentoring behavior, as compared with 53% of the control group (P < .001). The majority (87%) reported that they had implemented at least one behavioral change, while an additional 10% reported an intent to change or increase awareness.1

  • Similarly, mentees of trained mentors noted a significantly greater number of positive changes in their mentors’ behavior over the study period as compared to those in paired with mentors in the control group (P = .053). Further, 44% noted two or more positive changes as compared with 24% in the control (P = .002).1

  • 88% of those assigned to the intervention reported the 8-hour training was a valuable use of time; 90% would recommend the sessions to a colleague.2

Here is what research mentor training participants have to say:

"[The training] has helped me to understand that being a good mentor is not only about thriving in the science at any cost, but rather nurturing the growth of my mentees and understanding what they expect from this relationship and help them achieve it."

— Associate Professor, Yale University

"Many of us mentor routinely but never think about the process in a formalized manner. These sessions provided useful focus to identify and address key and current mentoring issues, particularly through the discussion of the case studies. They also allowed participants to articulate their mentoring philosophy, to hear and share others', and hopefully to integrate some of the approaches and philosophies into their own mentoring paradigm and practices."

— Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago


  1. Pfund C, House SC, Asquith P, Fleming MF, Buhr KA, Burnham EL, Eichenberger Gilmore JM, Huskins WC, McGee R, Schurr K, Shapiro ED, Spencer KC, Sorkness CA. Training mentors of clinical and translational research scholars: a randomized controlled trial. Acad Med. 2014;89(5):774-782.

  2. Pfund C, House S, Spencer K, Asquith P, Carney P, Masters KS, McGee R, Shanedling J, Vecchiarelli S, Fleming M. A research mentor training curriculum for clinical and translational researchers. Clin Transl Sci. 2013;6:26-33.

  3. Pfund C, Pribbenow C, Branchaw J, Miller Lauffer S, Handelsman J. Professional skills. The merits of training mentors. Science. 2006;311:473-474.

Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) focuses on improving the research mentoring relationships for mentees and mentors at all career stages through the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based and culturally-responsive interventions. They also provide training and consultation services for those interested in improving research mentorship experiences on their campuses.

NRMN MyMentor is a four-month Guided Virtual Mentorship Program where mentors and mentees are matched based on compatibility and communicate weekly. NRMN provides suggested topics to guide discussion.

NRMN Mentor Certification is available to mentors who complete the NRMN MyMentor Guided Virtual Mentorship program.

Optimizing the Practice of Mentoring is a free, self-paced (typically 2 hours), online professional development course designed to prepare faculty from a range of disciplines to be effective research mentors for junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students. Content is organized into five modules: 1) mentoring models, 2) mentor roles and responsibilities, 3) structured approaches to navigating a mentoring relationship, 4) exploration of mentorship practices, and 5) addressing mentorship challenges. The course engages learners through text, audio, mini-presentations, self-reflection, case studies, and other interactive activities. Learners also complete a Mentoring Action Plan and gain access to a mentoring toolkit. A certificate of completion is provided to users who complete a course evaluation survey.

Phases of the Mentoring Relationship is a selection of mentor resources curated by the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Resources are categorized by the four phases of a mentoring relationship: selection, alignment, cultivation, and closure.

Selected references from NRMN team members:

The NRMN Culturally Aware Mentorship (CAM) initiative is an innovative effort to enhance mentors’ and trainees’ ability to effectively address cultural diversity matters in their research mentoring relationships. The CAM initiative and approach are supported by evidence which indicates that broader participation of culturally diverse groups enhances the quality of research and practice in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences.

This advanced training is designed for research mentors who have participated in previous mentor training. CAM training sessions have been facilitated with research mentors across career stages (faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students) and in a variety of training settings including academic science departments and medical schools as well as training programs sponsored by federal and private foundations.

There are 3 components of the CAM research mentor training curriculum:

  1. Introduction to CAM - iCAM Online Module: a 1-hour, self-directed session that reviews key social science terms and research about the influence of race, ethnicity, and other historical and contemporary dimensions of cultural diversity to research training in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical sciences. Content is interspersed with reflective exercises.

  2. CAM Workshop: a day-long intensive training during which mentors look inward and examine their own racial and ethnic identity and use insights from these reflections to identify their personal assumptions and worldviews that may operate in their research mentoring relationships. Through a combination of activities including group discussion, case studies, and role play, mentors learn and practice culturally aware mentoring skills in order to increase their capacity to respond better to cultural diversity matters in their research mentoring relationships.

  3. Culturally Aware Mentoring Skills Survey: a 21-item skills self-assessment relating to culturally aware mentoring. This may also be used for assessments outside the context of a CAM workshop.

To obtain more information about the 21-item self-assessment CAM Skill Survey, please complete this online form:

We are currently seeking groups that would like to integrate this survey into evaluation efforts.

We offer consultations to help you design local implementation plans and navigate challenges unique to your institution or organization. To request a consultation, please complete this online form:

Mentors who participated in our workshops reported significant gains in 21 skill areas relating to culturally aware mentoring, including:

  • Intentionally creating opportunities for mentees to bring up issues of race/ethnicity
  • Encouraging mentees to think about how the research relates to their own lived experience
  • Going outside of their comfort zone to help mentees feel included in the lab
  • Having strategies to address racial/ethnic diversity in mentoring relationships

Results of a post-workshop survey with NRMN Master Facilitators who participated in CAM indicated:

  • 91% would be likely or very likely to recommend this workshop to other mentors
  • 91% were either likely or very likely to make changes in their mentoring as a result of attending this workshop

Comments from participating mentors:

"This topic is important and worth the time it takes in meeting (e.g., building in time in meeting for discussion). It is my ethical responsibility if I am going to be a mentor. Loved talking to my peers about this!”

“I hadn't thought about how these practices were important in inviting productivity in a lab.”

“I will continue to advocate for my students and thanks to you I have research to support what I have [experienced].”

  • Read the CAM Newsletter

  • Read our guest-authored blog post on The Sullivan Alliance website entitled “Want to help diversity the biomedical workforce? Start with mentoring”

  • Watch 2 videos on iBiology to learn about mentor training to improve diversity in science

  • Join the conversation on Twitter with #wokementoring

Selected references from NRMN team members:

Facilitating Mentor Training is a two-day workshop designed to increase the capacity for research mentor trainings offered at colleges and universities, research institutes, and governmental organizations. This training is available for faculty, instructors, staff, or administrators who are committed to implementing research mentor training workshops at their institution or organization for mentors whose trainees are in biomedical fields.

During this two-day “train-the-trainer” workshop, participants are introduced to the Entering Mentoring curricula series that addresses the following key topics: aligning expectations, addressing equity and inclusion, articulating your mentoring philosophy and plan, assessing understanding, cultivating ethical behavior, enhancing work-life integration, fostering independence, maintaining effective communication, promoting mentee research self-efficacy, and promoting professional development.

Participants learn evidence-based approaches to implementing research mentor training and gain the knowledge, confidence, and facilitation skills they need to design and implement a custom training at their institution or organization.

Facilitating Mentor Training workshops are led by NRMN Master Facilitators. Workshop participants should be highly motivated to learn how to effectively plan and facilitate a research mentor training event AND have a serious intention to implement research mentor training at their institution or organization.

To learn more about upcoming facilitator trainings with open applications, email us at

NRMN Master Facilitators are also available to come to your institution or organization to conduct Facilitating Mentor Training workshops. To request a facilitator training workshop at your institution or organization, please complete this online form:

We offer consultations to help you design local implementation plans and navigate challenges unique to your institution or organization. To request a consultation, please complete this online form:

From 2010 to 2018, 22 Facilitating Mentor Training workshops were held for 606 participants. Approximately half of these participants have returned to their home institutions to implement the Entering Mentoring curriculum.

Here is what facilitator training participants have to say:

“The facilitators were outstanding, and the opportunity to see so many different aspects of the curriculum - and different facilitation techniques - was very helpful.”

— Assistant Dean

“The workshop was well implemented and will be valuable in helping me design and deliver for my campus.”

— Professor

“Excellent facilitators. Excellent network of people to work with. The most valuable thing for me was time with my colleague to actually plan our approach and next steps.”

— Administrator

Evaluation services are available to assess mentor training workshops. Evaluation is standardized to allow for data comparison across implementations nationwide, but may be customized to include site or training specific questions. For more information or to request evaluation, contact

MyNRMN Group “Facilitators of Entering Mentoring (Mentor Training)” is an online community for faculty, staff, and administrators who are interested in or already using mentor training curricula in the Entering Mentoring series. Individuals are invited to join this group to learn more about the curricula, seek implementation advice, and share best practices.

NRMN Facilitator Certification allows you to demonstrate your individual commitment to the local dissemination of research mentor and/or research mentee training to support an inclusive scientific workforce. Growth of the biomedical research workforce would not be possible without the ongoing efforts of facilitators who implement research mentor and research mentee trainings. NRMN is devoted to recognizing the achievements and dedication of these facilitators at various stages.

NIH Scientific Workforce Diversity (SWD) Toolkit is a free, downloadable interactive resource institutions can use to help advance their own faculty diversity and inclusion. The toolkit guides users through evidence-based interrelated activities that SWD is currently using to foster an inclusive culture that unleashes the power of diversity to achieve research and institutional excellence. These include expanding diversity of the candidate pool, proactive outreach to diverse talent, mitigating bias in search processes, and developing/sustaining mentoring relationships and sponsorship.

Online resources for facilitators of research mentor training, including training materials, recruiting materials, and facilitation materials, can be downloaded free of charge at the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER).

Selected references from NRMN team members: