Tagged / mentor

Mentoring week: Research mentoring in FHSS

Professor Vanora Hundley is Deputy Dean for Research and Professional Practice in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (HSS). As Professor of Midwifery and an experienced midwifery researcher, Vanora has led a range of studies in the reproductive health field both in the UK and internationally. In this blog post, Vanora discusses the support available in FHSS to support mentoring.

In HSS we have introduce a number of strategies to offer greater opportunities and promote a positive research culture for all. These have included an open culture of sharing and support, mentoring and career sessions, academic mentors, targeted research bidding and writing support, and a review of funding, such as QR, to ensure equitable support particularly to early career researchers.

For example: The Department of Rehabilitation and Sport Sciences have looked at ways to encourage research mentorship that is inclusive and productive. Two years ago, we asked senior staff to include ECRs in their PhD supervision teams where possible. This provided a number of new supervisors who joined supervision teams to gain experience. Last year we asked colleagues to join with mentors or invite mentors into writing groups and this resulted in a few papers. This year with the aid of QR funding we have asked ECRs to put a bid together and work with a mentor when applying for QR research funding. All three applications were of good quality, well considered and awardable.

Finding the time in busy diaries is always a challenges. Departments have introduced drop-in lunch sessions (rapid 30 minute discussions) and research is discussed at each department meeting. Each member of academic staff has a research mentor who can sign post them to appropriate opportunities and provide support to achieve their research goals.

Mentoring week: Dr Alla Yankouskaya shares her experience of mentoring

Dr Alla Yankouskaya is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in the Faculty of Science and Technology. Her research focuses on social cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging and she investigates the cognitive and brain mechanisms of human perceptions and attention. In this blog post, she discusses her experience of mentorship at Bournemouth University.

Having a wealth of experience to draw from in terms of prior mentor-mentee relationships at the current stage of my career, I looked for a more senior mentor who has a wealth of experience and could reflect on where I am in my research career. When I met Hana, I felt straight away that she is the person who could guide me through the forest of different research pathways. It’s hard not to impose your own ideas and what you think would be right for yourself onto the situation, but Hana has the ability to listening to my thoughts and tailor my goals and objectives to my current situation. In my opinion, being an active listener is the first step of creating trust and openness between people. And this is what Hana did at the very first meeting.

The second important thing that Hana did is making herself accessible and available for me to talk. After a couple of meetings, I had the feeling that Hana grasped my potential strengths and limitations as a researcher without me explicitly telling that. This was a great starting point in our mentor-mentee relationship, as I felt comfortable talking to her about my research plans and professional development. Hana created ‘the safe environment’ in our meetings. Her advice, guidance, encouragement and examples from her research career put my mind in the right way – how to avoid mistakes, where to spend time and resources on things that matter instead of trying to do everything, helping to have balance and moving on.

Reflecting on the impact Hana had on my research career so far, I have got more precise ideas of the next step in my progression, how to use research resources, and how to make my strengths work for me. The benefits that I gained by having Hana as my mentor are difficult to overestimate. But as a small example, Hana’s comments about focusing on brain networks instead of localising brain areas of specific functions helped me change the main point of my study. The results were amazing – my paper was published in a high impact journal, and I plan my next study.

Mentoring week: Research mentoring in FST

Professor Tiantian Zhang is Deputy Dean of Research and Professional Practice in the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) at Bournemouth University. She is a leading figure internationally in research on cryopreservation of gametes and embryos of fish species and her research interests have been in the areas of cryopreservation of reproductive cells and the effect of cryopreservation on genome integrity and cellular metabolism with applications in biomedicine, conservation and aquaculture. In this blog post, Tiantian discusses the support available in FST to support mentoring.

In supporting the delivery of BU2025 and career development of academic staff, FST introduced a faculty wide mentoring programme to academic staff in 2019 building on from the good practice of mentoring in the faculty. The Faculty formally recognised two types of mentoring: one for staff on probation and one for all staff. The mentoring programme initially covered all aspects of Fusion and we have further enhanced the programme so staff can also have a research focused mentor where appropriate. The mentoring support was initially focused on ECRs and this has been further developed for MCRs and other staff. The uptake of research mentoring by ECRs have been high (eg 100% for Psychology department). Mentoring has also been offered to senior staff including professors and mentors from both BU and outside were used. Some department such as Psychology has a mentoring lead/facilitator and gender balance of mentors/mentees have also been monitored as part of the Athena SWAN activities (eg Depts of Psychology, Life and Environmental Science and  Archaeology and Anthropology).

In addition to the formal mentoring arrangements, there are also a range of informal mentoring activities taking place in FST, these include research mentoring via research institute and research centre activities,  collective mentoring via research groups, mentoring on individual research plan development and the use of visiting professors for targeted support eg income generation.

Mentoring week: Dr Parisa Gilani discusses her experience of mentoring

Dr Parisa Gilani is a Senior Lecturer in the Bournemouth University Business School. Her research focuses on leadership development and she has a particular interest in gender and leadership. In this blog post, she discusses her experience of mentorship at Bournemouth University.

Having a research mentor has proven to be the most valuable learning and development experience that I have been fortunate to have in my career so far. In January 2018, I found myself in a position whereby I was nearing the end of my three-year tenure as a Programme Coordinator for a very large degree within the Business School. I felt that I made some form of difference and impact within the educational sphere and had learnt a lot along the way, but three since having completed my PhD at Exeter University, I still had no research track record to speak of. As I had allowed my research to slip, I lost all confidence in my writing ability and did not know where to start in developing papers for publication. As this felt quite a lonely and overwhelming process, I requested a research mentor.

In order to identify a potential mentor, I looked beyond my own immediate research area and approached Julie Robson, an Associate Professor who I knew demonstrated an inclusive and supportive approach to working with Early Career Researchers – as well as being knowledgeable in qualitative approaches, writing papers and developing bids. Thankfully she agreed to embark on a mentoring relationship with me – something for which I am very grateful.

Julie met with me on a regular basis and helped to set challenging, but realistic goals. Having someone else to be accountable to (rather than just myself) pushed me to meet targets and go beyond my comfort zone. She built up my confidence by reading paper drafts and providing constructive and encouraging feedback, which persuaded me to bite the bullet and submit papers that I had been holding on to. Research can feel like a very personal process and allowing someone to read my work (beyond my PhD supervisors and examiners) felt like a big step. However, Julie was approachable, supportive and someone that I very quickly developed a trusting mentoring relationship with.

Julie also enabled me to access a host of other research related opportunities such as assessing PhD Transfer vivas, reviewing papers on a Special Issue she was editing and involving me in a large research project she was developing with the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjustors. Her reach has extended beyond research and she encouraged me and provided guidance in applying for promotion to Grade 8 in 2019. I had applied unsuccessfully two years previously, and she helped me to identify areas whereby I was ‘underselling’ and not articulating impact clearly enough.

Three years on and my confidence has increased – as has my research momentum. I have submitted papers and published and have been promoted to Senior Academic. I’m also working on two large research projects – which have the potential to be future impact case studies. Whilst I recognise, that I have a long way to go in developing my research profile, I cannot speak highly enough of my mentoring experience. This past year has been tough on everyone as we try to juggle multiple responsibilities and demands. However, Julie has proven to be a voice of reason – when I am being hard on myself and focusing on my own perceived lack of progress and has reminded me of my achievements and that we’re only human. She has been there to celebrate my successes as well as being a source of reassurance when things have not quite gone to plan.

I really recommend finding a research mentor who shares the same values as you, is knowledgeable and supportive, who demonstrates a collaborative and inclusive approach and who essentially you feel comfortable with and can get on with! These qualities, in my opinion are arguably more important than sharing exactly the same research interests. However, you may be surprised – and find that your interests overlap more than you think. I would like to thank Julie for all the time and energy she has invested in supporting and enabling my development – something I will always be very grateful for.

Mentoring week: Dr Jeffery Bray discusses mentoring

Based in the Bournemouth University Business School (BUBS), Dr Jeff Bray is a Consumer Behaviour researcher and educator focused on the societal challenges of sustainable consumption both from an environmental perspective and a personal (health) perspective. In this blog post, Jeff discusses his experience of mentoring and how it has helped and supported him throughout his career.

For me, mentoring started during my doctoral studies, building close working relationships with my supervisors. On completion, (though it has never been said & they might be surprised to read it here!) one of my supervisors seamlessly transitioned from supervisor to mentor. They initially invited me to join one of their funded research projects which proved to be an invaluable learning experience providing crucial exposure to the funded research landscape. Over the years we developed a number of bids and papers together, and the informal mentorship that has been implicit in this has helped me to gain confidence, knowledge and crucially the networks necessary to develop my own research leadership.

Being an academic can be really tough, juggling teaching commitments, supervision, administration alongside advancing research projects. A few wise or encouraging words from a mentor who has been through the same experiences can be so helpful. An effective mentor/mentee relationship relies on being open about concerns and thoughts and being willing to both give and receive honest feedback! Certainty the forthright feedback from my mentor has helped me develop my research skills considerable and I now find supporting colleagues with their research development really rewarding, perhaps I have becoe one of the informal mentors 🙂

Mentoring week: Prof Heather Hartwell – Let’s give back

Professor Heather Hartwell is a UK-registered nutritionist and Professor in the Bournemouth University Business School. She has led many research projects, including the EC FP7 project VeggieEAT, the EC Horizon 2020 project FoodSMART and the British Council / Newton Fund project Veg+. In this blog post, Heather shares her experience of being a mentor at Bournemouth University and her thoughts on the mentoring role and relationship.

My primary goal in undertaking the mentoring programme facilitated by Organisational Development in 2009 was to use my experience and help staff who would like to enhance their own personal development and assist colleagues in realising their full aspirations. It was to give back to a community which had been totally supportive to me during my time in HE.

While there are theoretical models such as GROW (please see below) and much academic debate, mentoring to me is more fluid, less structured and more dependent on the mentor/mentee relationship.



Identify goal to be achieved
Reality Acknowledge the current situation and raise self-awareness


Identify alternative courses of action
Will Identify what will need to be done to make decisions on how to proceed.

The way forward

Table 1 – The GROW model (Whitmore 2002)

Respect for each other and commitment to action are crucial in a successful mentoring relationship where both are in tune and harmony. Notwithstanding, the nature of the mentor/mentee rapport changes with time; initially the focus may be on helping the member of staff settle into their new role, providing information and support on practical issues. The dynamics will then change to be more symbiotic and two way street.

Academic staff mentoring new academic colleagues may:

  • Review education and assessment strategies
  • Give support on exam question setting and assignment marking
  • Share education expertise and resources
  • Observe learning and teaching sessions and offer supportive formative feedback
  • Invite mentee to observe them
  • Offer guidance on university quality procedures and systems
  • Motivate and encourage innovative approaches to teaching
  • Support the mentee in submitting bids for grants and funding, providing guidance, feedback and opportunities for peer review
  • Support the mentee in writing for publication, identifying appropriate journals and providing guidance, feedback and opportunities for peer review
  • Identify with the mentee to engage in research, enterprise, professional practice
  • Identify opportunities with the mentee to disseminate research, enterprise, educational and professional practice
  • Introduce them to appropriate networks of support and collaboration


 What type of person makes an Effective Mentor?

 Clutterbuck (2004) suggests that a good mentor is someone who has:

  • An interest in developing others
  • An interest in continuing to develop themselves
  • Reasonably good explaining skills
  • Good listening ability
  • A broader perspective than the mentee’s
  • Generally good behavioural skills
  • Integrity
  • A sense of humour (absolutely essential in the eyes of mentees!)

I thoroughly enjoy the role and get great pleasure in the success of those who I support.

I hope that I am inspirational, enthusiastic and empathetic, although we must ask my mentees! The role takes my work to a new level within BU and provides a resource that hopefully will benefit not just individuals but the organisation as a whole.



CLUTTERBUCK, D., 2004. Everyone Needs a Mentor. London: Institute of Personnel Management

Talbot Campus Ref: 658.407124

WHITMORE, J., 2002. Coaching for Performance: GROWing people, performance and purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey

Talbot Campus Ref: 658.312404

Mentoring week: Research mentoring in BUBS

Professor Michael Silk is Deputy Dean for Research and Professional Practice in the Bournemouth University Business School (BUBS). His current research focusses on urban renewal, social inequalities and disability. He has received funding from the British Council, the ESRC, the AHRC, the British Academy and Sport England, amongst others.  In this blog post, Michael discusses the support available in BUBS to support mentoring.

In 2020, and coinciding with the launch of BUBS, the School began restructuring research into defined Dept. based concentrations (Professorial Led Research Groups); these supplement interdisciplinary Research Centres that serve as the public face of excellent research. Predicated on alignment of activities with emergent Departmental and institutional strategic narratives, as well as other internal and external drivers–BU2025 core and strategic investment areas, UN Sustainable Development Goals, accrediting bodies, and UK Research Councils—these research groups are designed to balance the development of quality with a focus on development, focussing on short-term achievements (e.g. increasing the number of staff that are publishing and the quality of publications from those already published), medium term goals (higher quality larger bids and stronger external networks), and longer-term strategizing (enhance the interdisciplinary research culture, invest significantly in ECRs and evolve established research networks).

Based on research which suggests informal mentoring is often more effective than formal mentoring (e.g. Cotton & Raggins, 1999; Inzer, 2005) these groups provide a space for career development, role modelling, social interaction, as well as developing more focussed areas of research strength / capacity and thereby feeding into the wider BUBS narrative. Whilst the development of these groups has in part been impacted by the pandemic and will benefit from physical interaction, there have been a number of activities developed within these groups over the last few months (e.g. writing & bidding workshops). Furthermore, the School has put in place a new research infrastructure in each Department (a Postgraduate Research Lead, a Research Environment Lead, and a Strategic Research Lead) who work closely with the Head of Department (HoD) and Deputy Dean (Research and Professional Practice) who provide a more formal structure for inclusion, performance and environment in our research activities (including mentoring). To further maximise support (and indeed, compliment informal mentoring with formal mentoring given that a mix of styles is likely the best approach), we will be developing a formal mentoring programme across Fusion utilising an online platform / software.