MTP Cases: Defining Mentorship from the Beginning

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Decision to Become a Mentor

Junior Faculty Mentoring Meeting

Writing Skills of Junior Faculty

Faculty Job Negotiations

Decision to Become a Mentor

You are addressed for mentorship by junior faculty

J. R., a junior faculty that is lab-based, contacts you by email stating that he was referred to you by his lead mentor, a highly regarded senior basic scientist colleague. Your work is primarily clinical and translational. J. R. is interested in working more translational and is currently taking courses through Training in Clinical Research (TICR) to become more grounded in translational research. He would like to discuss with you the potential for your involvement in his career by becoming a part of his mentoring team as a co-mentor.

Comment 1: A meeting would be most appropriate to see if the expectations of the potential mentee, his research, and his understanding of my commitment as a co-mentor fit with my present time commitments to other mentees. Has he completed an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with his lead mentor? Who are other co-mentors? I would also need his CV & Bio-Sketch to review. To be a co-mentor is a major time commitment and clear expectations are essential.

Comment 2: Well, I had someone come to me in exactly this capacity. I urged her to apply for a K12 Institutional Career Development Award which she did and I was her mentor. She is doing well 2 years later both in research and in clinical. Basic research is a wonderful foundation for clinical research.

Comment 3: It would be helpful to have a meeting and identify the specific goals that the lead mentor had in providing the referral and how the lead mentor viewed any collaboration. Clarifying specifics at this point would be important so that the mentee receives appropriate and consistent feedback.

Comment 4: I would first meet with him and discuss the laboratory work he has been doing, what has been his research program, and ask how he sees his laboratory work relating to my research program that is clinical and translational or what research questions he may have that would apply to his laboratory work and his goal for clinical research. I would ask him to bring along his CV and I would be interested in his profile – what age he is, how long he has been teaching at other institutions, what are his goals, how many years does he have to make tenure, what does his research program look like? I think this information would be very important to determine, if he should, in fact, try to incorporate clinical research into his career at this time or wait until he is established in the University and can branch out to other clinical and translational questions. If he was really determined to begin clinical research, I would invite him to come to our research meetings and begin to think of questions he is interested in. I would meet with him after the research meetings if possible to identify the possible areas of study for him and possible use of our data base for a beginning clinical question he could pursue with secondary analysis. Someone mentioned he should apply for a K12 Institutional Career Development Award and I think that is an excellent suggestion.

Comment 5: Why me? Am I the best person to be a co-mentor? What does he need in terms of mentoring, guidance, etc.? Is he going to be moving away from lab research so that I will become, in effect, his lead mentor? This could be quite time consuming, if this is not clearly negotiated up front. Do his department and current mentor support this change? Does he have the training to make this transition?

Comment 6: The two questions I would explore in a meeting would be: Why is he making the switch from basic to clinical/translational research? Has he been successful and productive in basic research? I am interested in the answers to these questions because sometimes the switch from basic to clinical is made because of the lack of success at the bench and a perception that clinical research might be easier. As we all know, any research is challenging. The best case scenario would be that this candidate is switching to clinical because he has been successful and productive at the bench and now wants a more human focus to his work.

Comment 7: In addition to the previous comments, how does he define "translational"? There are many types of translational research. Is there an opportunity to obtain some short term training funds for training and release time to facilitate the transition to translational research, e.g., faculty re-tooling funds?

Comment 8: It is also sometimes helpful to give the potential mentee some sort of assignment, e. g., a draft of an Individual Development Plan (IDP), review various funding or training opportunities, to assess the level of commitment, follow-through, and initiative.

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You are contacted for use of data set by junior faculty

D. R. is a newly appointed junior faculty to your department. D. R. contacts you by email and states that she is interested in exploring and developing a program of research similar to yours. She states that you may have a data set that she would like to write abstracts or manuscripts from.

Comment 1: It would seem reasonable to either have a scheduled phone chat or an informal meeting with the junior faculty and she should provide their CV. Questions for D. R. would include: What prior research training has she had? How does she envision her career path?, Has she written abstracts or papers before? The answers to these questions will assist with defining my role.

Comment 2: Discuss Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) issues and confidentiality issues regarding sharing data sets. Discuss need for The Committee on Human Research (CHR) approval—may no longer be needed for de-identified databases with completing a new CHR form by one's self (January 2008). Discuss the possible need for a formal Data Use Agreement for protection of all parties and to insure acknowledgment and possibly permission of funders and colleagues who designed the study and collected the data.

Comment 3: Does D. R. have an assigned career mentor? At this juncture, my role would be as an advisor

Comment 4: Defining the "lead mentor" is of fundamental importance and perhaps we should consider some important distinctions. Here are some examples from my own experience. The category names I use are not ideal, but give the general idea:

"Internal mentee": Dr. X is somebody that I recruit, and becomes a part of my research group. S/he is studying the same disease process but focusing on a different set of related questions that can pave the way for independence. There is complete sharing of all resources, patient recruitment, etc. In this scenario, the mentor and mentee are co-investigators on each others projects.

"Collaborative mentee": Dr Y is someone working on a related patient population/disease but not the same. Generally, there is use of similar methodologies and some overlap in infrastructure, so the resource sharing will be more limited. The mentor and mentee may be co-investigators on each others projects.

"Consultative mentee": Dr Z is someone working on a related disease with no overlap in either patients or methodologies, and the mentoring is limited to "counseling" and "advising". The mentor and mentee are generally not co-investigators on each others projects.

I have been the "lead mentor" on NIH K grants of all three types. The logistics, strategy and expectations are different for these situations.

Comment 5: I would invite her to meet with me and discuss her research program. What are her goals? Did she want to collaborate? What is in my data base that seems to fit her questions? If I felt that we could work together, I would ask if she was interested in collaborating on a secondary analysis that might help her to understand the data base and see if there is data here that might answer a beginning question. After that was published, I might begin to talk about collaboration.

Comment 6: Does D. R. have the requisite skills to perform the secondary data analysis or could she use some training/coursework?

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You are asked to take the role of the lead mentor after a period of successful collaboration with junior faculty

A.T. was a fellow and is now a junior faculty member in your department that you have successfully collaborated with on three manuscripts based on data from your research. You do not have a "formal" mentor-mentee relationship but by working on these manuscripts you have gotten to know her well and have provided some informal career guidance. A.T. is requesting a meeting with you to discuss formalizing your role as her lead mentor. She wants also to discuss writing a Career Development Award.

Comment 1: An hour meeting would be needed using the mentor/mentee checklist as a guide. Usually, I can only have one to three mentees that I am lead mentor for so it will need to be discussed in-depth. If we were quite far along in the decision process and I had agreed to be her Lead Mentor, I would forward an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for her to complete and the mentoring checklist for us to use as a guide.

Comment 2: This is a very nice way to enter into a potential lead mentor role, having already worked together and having a sense if it will "work" – it's such a major commitment. It is always best to start with something small and see if things work out.

Comment 3: Just like research topics can evolve over time, so can the relationships between mentor and mentoree. In the process of mentoring depending on how the research project changes, someone whom you have an informal relationship with may evolve into a more defined lead mentorship relationship. Definitely it is good to meet with the junior faculty to get the expectations regarding their career, research, and future plans regarding grants, research topics, and papers. This is a good time to go over available resources—i.e., will the mentoree need additional funding or support from you to get their research started? And a good time to go over authorship—who will be senior author, etc. Finally it is also a good time to be certain that the mentoree will eventually be able to develop an independent research focus that is distinct from the mentor.

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Mentor or not?—Assistant Professor asked to be a mentor

As a new assistant professor taking formal training in clinical research through the Master's of Clinical Research program, I have been asked to be a mentor for research projects of medical students, residents, fellows, and colleagues in my department...should I?

Comment 1: In general, assistant professors should be mentees and not mentors. You need to establish your research program with your mentoring team.

Comment 2: Consult with your mentoring team if you are approached by a potential mentee—are you ready? Is it to be a lead mentor, co-mentor, research advisor, or career advisor? Follow the guidelines in this seminar—clearly you should not be a lead mentor...perhaps start as a co-mentor if your mentoring team agrees you are ready.

Comment 3: It would be reasonable with a limited scope of work — say a secondary data analysis project. Attached are some slides (PPT 1.6MB | PDF 372KB) that were presented to KL2 Scholars with the good, bad, and evil!

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Mentoring outside of your area of expertise

How best to approach mentoring a post-doc who is focused in your general subject area but intends to use the methods of a completely different discipline? Which option would you choose? Co-Mentoring, Learning Together, or Finding a Different Mentor?

Comment 1: It would be wise to suggest to your mentee find an another individual who could provide expertise for those methods/areas you are unfamiliar with. You may be able to help locate such an individual, as your mentee may not know who that may be.

Comment 2: There are several resources for the mentee to explore. First, suggest the mentee ask others for recommendations or suggestions. Often senior faculty members have met (through committees or seminars), or are aware of, other faculty members on campus doing related work. The mentee should ask the person to provide an introduction or email introduction for you. Personal connections—even remote ones—are usually better than "cold calling". The mentee should be prepared with a short 1 paragraph or 1 page summary of his/her current research and the role for the prospective mentor to play.

Second, the mentee can attend relevant seminars at UCSF to network and set a goal to introduce him/herelf to the speaker and relevant attendees. Follow-up with an email or telephone call and include the 1 paragraph or 1 page summary.

Third, browse the UCSF CTSI Profiles pages (http://profiles.ucsf.edu/) where you can search using appropriate terms. Browse the resulting profiles for appropriate expertise and experience. As with the first strategy above, see if you can have a mutual contact introduce the mentee to the prospective mentor and be prepared with the 1 paragraph or 1 page summary.

Fourth, the mentee can perform other searches similar to the UCSF CTSI Profiles pages. For example, in a search engine, search using the terms "www.ucsf.edu: tobacco cessation community outreach" which will limit the search to UCSF webpages. Alternatively, search PubMed with the terms "tobacco" "cessation" "community" and add the term "UCSF[Affiliation]" or "University of California San Francisco[Affiliation]". Then follow similar steps as above.

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Post docs, fellows—what about them?

I have post docs in my lab and would like guidance on mentoring them. Also, others are Fellowship Directors and they would like guidance on mentoring all of their fellows.

Comment 1: The emphasis for the MTP is junior faculty mentees. However, many of the tools will be useful for post docs.

Some resources: The Office of Career & Professional Development really is doing a bang up job for Post Docs:

http://career.ucsf.edu/
http://career.ucsf.edu/grad-students-postdocs

Many of the resources will be useful for fellows as well.

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Supervisor or Mentor?

Can a junior faculty member's Division Chief or Chair be their mentor? Or a generic supervisor be their mentor?

Comment 1: Mentor vs Supervisor. One thing that sets mentors apart from supervisors is a desire to help the mentoree develop into a successful professional with no more at stake in it than the personal satisfaction of helping someone grow.

Organizations that need high performance and that are focused on increased results MUST have BOTH a high impact mentoring program in ADDITION to great supervision. For example, a Fellowship Director is more of a supervisor and the fellows probably also need mentors as well or why Division Chiefs or Chairs may not be appropriate as mentors for junior faculty. That is why supervisors should always attend any mentor training held for fellows or junior faculty, even if they are not going to serve as official mentors themselves.

Mentors should hold confidential their conversations with their mentees. If mentees find out their mentor is discussing them with their supervisor, often the mentoring is over from that point on.

This is also why, rather than being evaluative, mentors must facilitate the mentee's own self assessment. When that happens, the mentee will do the learning because they have to do the analysis and the decision making. Mentors can make this happen by asking mentees the questions that the mentors would ask themselves. When mentors become evaluators too, we no longer need mentors, as they have assumed the role of the supervisor.

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Junior Faculty Mentoring Meeting

Career advice for junior faculty member in your clinical department

B. D. is a new junior faculty member in your clinical department. He has completed a postdoctoral research fellowship for two years, which allowed him to define his area of research that is different than yours. B. D. is finishing his K08 grant but does not yet have an R01. Recently, he has been given increasing clinical duties and is being asked to do even more clinical work. B. D. comes to you and asks for advice regarding his career.

Comment 1: There are a few questions: Does he have a lead mentor or mentoring team? If not, he needs one. Did he complete a "checklist" of important points for discussion between department chairs and new appointees? And if so, what was agreed to by the department chair and the faculty appointee? If not, he needs to start there. Did he accept an unworkable situation for their success as a researcher?

His lead mentor needs to review his clinical commitments and may need to talk to the Chair with him. Perhaps his departmental career mentor can assist him too? They certainly need assistance with saying "no". As a member of their department, I would review what the standard in the department is. Certainly, a question for the Chair and the department is if this junior faculty member is to succeed. What is our departmental commitment to research and what differentiates clinicians and researchers as far as clinical commitments? For his lead mentor and mentoring team: Is he on the mark and worth the investment? How can they relay that to his Chair? It may also be appropriate for me as a senior faculty member to cover a bit more clinical, if it will assist this junior faculty member. Is there a need for a new hire in the clinical series?

Comment 2: The key question is, if he enjoys research and really wants it to be part of his career. If he does, then he needs to work out a realistic plan so that he has protected time. Also he should not get a cut in his salary because he does more research and modestly less clinical time. Make sure he is doing research because he really loves it and not just to get ahead.

Comment 3: In my opinion the most important fact given here is that his research is not my area of interest. I don't see that I could be his lead mentor, but depending on how many faculty members were in our department I might consent to be a co-mentor, especially as a more senior faculty that I am and I have observed different work and success patterns in the department and in the school. I see a co-mentor as someone who would help with his progression through UCSF, "jumping the hoops" "doing the right things politically", being an active member of the community here—maybe a discussion about balance between teaching, clinical and research. I think I would say I was available for questions he might have. And that maybe we should meet periodically so I might help him "negotiate the system." Maybe meeting with him every six months to evaluate what he has done his immediate and future goals. As a co mentor, I would discuss time lines, review of CVs by promotion committees, and a research program that might succeed. As for the clinical work, I would ask if he sees his work above and beyond the junior faculty in his department or is it the same and if he has had less time in another institution. If it is greater than other junior faculty I would suggest he outlines what he expects of his research program. When he thinks he should apply for a RO1, has he people to collaborate with? And he should arrange a meeting with the Chair to share his time line and his specific plan with the request that he has devoted time to submit his RO1#, presenting rationale for the time.

Comment 4: Review his offer letter. Help him define and, if needed, negotiate clear, mutually agreed on, expectations for his time commitments and for support from the Chair. Discuss his plans for obtaining extramural funding. What are his goals? Is there a realistic chance of success? What can be done to increase the probability of success? What is his lead mentor doing?

Comment 5: The key advice is that success in research requires protected time. Sometimes the clinical duties are given to people who send signals that they want these duties. So I would want to know how much this person enjoys research and how promising the research was in the K08 years. If he enjoys research and has a productive and promising line of investigation underway, then I would advise him to lobby hard for more protected time.

Comment 6: Is he in the right series? Does he want to keep pursuing research or switch to more clinical duties? If he does want to pursue his research, can he stretch the K08 for a no-cost extension? Perhaps he should have been advised to plan for that. If he likes research and clinical work and does them both well, he will likely have to make a choice.

Comment 7: With regard to negotiating with the Chair around clinical time, this is the point in the mentoring relationship when I often give my mentees this book "Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher and William Ury from the Harvard Negotiation Project. It is a short and tremendously helpful guide on negotiation.

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Career advice for junior faculty member in a clinical department different from yours

B. D. is a junior faculty member in department other than yours and you are his lead mentor. B. D. has completed a postdoctoral research fellowship for two years, which allowed him to define his area of research that is different than yours. B. D. is finishing his K08 grant but does not yet have an R01. Recently, he has been given increasing clinical duties and is being asked to do even more clinical work. B. D. comes to you and asks for advice regarding his career.

Comment 1: As his lead mentor, I would bring together his mentoring team that would include his career mentor from his department. As a group, we need to review his clinical commitments and may need to talk to his Chair with him. What suggestions does the career mentor have? Are there others in the department who have chosen a clinical series and can assist with the clinical duties? What is the standard in the department? How can we assist the department chair to assist with a strategic and deliberate approach to career development for this junior faculty's career development?

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Junior faculty is asked to direct a fellowship program

As an Assistant Professor, you are asked by your chair to help prepare a fellowship training grant application and to take the role of director if the grant is funded. You feel flattered by the invitation and enjoy helping with training but are concerned that you will have to sacrifice your own research productivity to lead this new program. What are your options?

Comment 1: This requires a significant amount of thought before proceeding. Junior faculty are often approached with such offers, and saying yes certainly impacts their ability to be productive with research. However, if the assistant professor's primary goal is to be a leader in training, directing a fellowship may make sense. If s/he is primarily attempting to be an independent researcher then of course it may not. The faculty should meet with his/her division chief / department chair to discuss their own goals and the plan that has already been made about their responsibilities and funding. They also might discuss supervisor's goals for them, and the overall departmental or division goals for the fellowship. The junior faculty may decide that the answer is certainly no, but a compromise may be found if s/he is interested in leading the fellowship in the future. Could s/he be a collaborator on the training grant or even have some limited leadership role in the fellowship such as assistant director, with the plan to transition into the director position once promoted? If s/he decides this fits in perfectly with his/her goals then perhaps the answer is yes, but as a junior faculty this may cause more harm than good.

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Writing Skills of Junior Faculty

Evaluate writing skills before agreeing to mentor

You are approached to be a "mentor" for a junior faculty (or could be a medical student, resident, fellow) who wants to write a paper with you. Before you agree consider evaluating their writing skills. Ask them to write a 1-2 page analysis plan, set a reasonable time line for completion and see what it looks like.

Comment 1: I agree. You will discover quite a bit—do they ever return with the write up?

Comment 2: Yes, giving a few small tests before signing on for a paper is a good idea. Often I will ask them to get the "Designing Clinical Research" textbook by Hulley et al. Read the first chapter and write up a 1-2 page protocol. I don't expect perfection....but at least a good try!

Comment 3: Sometimes there is a bad sign when someone approaches with a general comment "I want to write a paper, any paper with you because I need it to get into a good residency, fellowship etc". I often ask the individual to read some of my recent papers, go to our research web site and come back with 5 ideas. Again—do they ever return? Did they take the time to prepare a bit?

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Dealing with poorly written manuscripts—giving editorial advice and scientific comments

Three months ago W. L. approached you to discuss your role as her/his lead mentor. You have similar areas of research. You have met several times and have assisted W. L. with the development of an Individual Development Plan (IDP). One of the areas that you identified together is the need for increasing publications for promotion. As part of this goal, you have assisted with a plan for manuscripts, and over the past three months, W. L. has been working on analyzing data and a first draft for a manuscript submission. The first draft of the manuscript is poorly written, after considerable time and effort you have made extensive editorial and substantive scientific comments. The second draft is not much better and many of your editorial changes have not been incorporated into this second draft.

Comment 1: It would really be helpful in this case to meet and discuss why the changes recommended were not incorporated and to discuss any issues that could be creating barriers to movement, such as other commitments, issues related to the manuscript and research itself, etc. There is the career development office that offers resources and there are editorial services that might be assistive. It seems that first the underlying issues have to be identified.

Comment 2: One of the factors that really impinge on how I proceed is whether we have a good relationship in every other aspect of our research and teaching endeavors. Do I respect his/her thinking, ideas, knowledge in other areas such as statistical analysis, his/her ability to complete other tasks such as: developing research questions, creative methods, or assisting in the teaching of PhD students or Post Docs? I would also begin to negotiate authorship and point out how much time I had spent in changing the document and really honestly say : "You seem to have real trouble in conveying your thoughts and finishing this paper." —Collaborative problem solving. Do you think taking a course in writing might help? Or is it that you don't understand the findings? Do you understand why I made the content changes? What would you think about taking CTSI courses or attending a course of the clinical rounds more often to increase your knowledge? I would also begin to ask some personal questions about home, stress, and environment. Is it that you don't have enough time to work on the papers? As you know it is important that you contribute the most to the papers you'd like to take the lead authorship on. Can we identify what the problem really is? Then I think I would be able to help you solve the issues. I would set up weekly meetings to identify solutions for this faculty member—I would not end our working relationship in anyway. I would try to find the areas she was good in and complement those.

Comment 3: This is a very bad prognostic sign. Based on experience with thousands of manuscripts, we have found that if the first revision does not substantially address the major problems, subsequent revisions are very unlikely to do so.

  1. Assessing the damage:
    • What is W. L.'s peer reviewing experience?
    • What is W. L.'s previous writing experience? (Has s/he ever written anything well?)
    • Did s/he start with an outline?
    • Can s/he write anything? (You might test by requesting an essay on a relatively focused topic.)
    • What is W.L.'s explanation for the portions of your editing and advice that were ignored in the second draft?
    • How was the first draft discussed? (Sit down and go through the key sections in person, try to clarify what the author was trying to say vs. what they did say. Be explicit and don't use scientific language excessively. Explain how to get the message across to peer reviewers and other scientists. Be encouraging but also very specific, with lots of examples. Doing this right, probably will take several hours at least.)
    • It's too late this time, but what about early screening for writing skills before taking on a mentee? Give a small project, mangled paper or section, etc. to see, if they can fix it.
  2. Trying to rescue the paper (and the mentee):
    • There is really no science to guide us in turning a poor quality scientific writer into a good one.
    • Peer review courses, workshops, etc. are enthusiastically received, and may even produce a better post-test score, but have no proven longer-term benefit.
    • There are journal clubs and critical appraisal training—only a modest number of studies, but much the same results. Yet most are not well structured, perhaps not interactive enough.
    • Professional authors/scientific editors (departmental, freelance, corporate)—best solution if available, but time consuming and expensive.
    • Identify a less senior colleague already on the project who has demonstrated writing skill, seek help and collaboration. (This may be politically difficult.)
    • Add another author who has expertise in the area, necessary skills and can lead the mentee. (This raises the potential of authorship issues and conflicts).
    • Courses on technical/scientific writing are another option, but probably need to be long to be effective—most effective before this issue arises, not after. They take time and are expensive.
    • Face to face instruction by you or another senior colleague—very time consuming, may lead to conflict.
    • Do not put yourself in an authorship role. You can be accused of "honorary" authorship, and you may be lending your good name to a failed effort.
  3. What is the most effective way to communicate your concern and insure that progress is made in a timely and effective manner?
    • Be very explicit and put it all in writing. Tracking changes is very helpful for this purpose. This could eventually lead to an authorship dispute or a grievance against you).
    • Set explicit deadlines. Consider having a small ad hoc senior group to review subsequent efforts and progress to make criticism less personal and "arbitrary".
  4. Other resources (Unfortunately, these are most useful for those who need them least, and no one has ever shown that writing skills can be learned from a book or CD).
    • How to Report Statistics in Medicine. Lang TA, Secic M. Philadelphia: ACP, 2006, second edition, 367 pages. (Highly recommended for even experienced authors)
    • How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. Robert A. Day, Barbara Gastel. Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press, 2006, 6th Edition.
    • Clinician's Guide to Medical Writing. Robert B. Taylor
    • Guidebook to Better Medical Writing. Robert L. Iles, Debra Volkland
    • Successful Scientific Writing: A Step-By-step Guide for Biomedical Scientists.
    • Janice R. Matthews, John M. Bowen, Robert W. Matthews
    • Writing successfully in science. O'Connor M. London: Harper Collins Academic, 1991. (The US edition published by Routledge.) The 1999 edition, published by E & FN Spon (London), is available online as an e-book at http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=108743499.
  5. There's a difference between not writing well and not addressing thorough feedback provided on the first draft.
    • The former can be helped by courses (e.g., Tom Mitchell's Grant Writing Workshop).
    • The latter seems more from not putting forth the required time and effort—asking about conflicting responsibilities at work and home seems appropriate. If the mentee seems to be putting in the time and effort but not achieving good results even after courses, books, and editors there might be other problems.

Comment 4: I like Publishing and Presenting Clinical Research by Warren S Browner, Second Edition, May 1, 2006. I also find it useful to break up the paper into the usual pieces: intro, methods, results, discussion and have them start on one section. Maybe a co-author can write some of the other sections so they aren't writing them all.

Comment 5: A Scientific Writing Course for Clinical and Translational Researchers is offered once a year to faculty, fellows, and research residents who wish to learn specific ways to marshal the details of a biomedical research paper or grant proposal into a clear, concise and comprehensible story that will be understandable to an interdisciplinary readership (papers), or meet the agency’s review criteria (proposals).

Comment 6: There are many courses on writing including those by the Office for Career and Professional Development. Check out: http://www.career.ucsf.edu/grad-students-postdocs/writing/writing-grants.

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Advising on the submission and revision of a manuscript

W. L., your mentee, submitted his/her first manuscript, and it was rejected. How do you advise W.L.?

Comment 1: I hope W. L. doesn't feel discouraged by the journal's decision. As you know, the average research paper gets rejected by at least two journals before it is accepted. On the very rare occasions that I've had a paper accepted on the first try, I've ended up worrying afterwards that I wasn't ambitious enough in my choice of a first journal.

WL shouldn't spend too much time trying to address the reviewers' comments, since the next crop of reviewers may have totally different thoughts, and often editors decide to turn down papers for reasons totally unrelated to what the reviewers have to say. It's probably worth correcting a small slip in the references and easy to do.

Comment 2: We have a 24 or 48 hour rule—re-format the paper for the next journal and don't let it lie around!

Comment 3: A very prominent professor in my field with over 300 publications tells new researchers about his first paper submitted; the reviewer wrote: "The author should consider an alternate career path." So even the most successful of us have had setbacks—thick skin and perseverance are often needed for success.

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Faculty Job Negotiations

Advice on finding a faculty position

T. L. is currently a 30-year old single fellow in her last year of research training. She is now looking for a faculty position. As her lead mentor you have discussed her career interests and she has stated that she is moveable but prefers to stay in the Bay Area. She is interested in continuing her research program and currently does not have extramural funding. She has only considered applying for a position here at UCSF that is not in your department.

Questions:

  1. As her lead mentor, what do you recommend?
  2. What resources are available to you and your mentee to facilitate job searches?
  3. How do you help your mentee define a "perfect" fit between institution and new junior faculty?
  4. How do you help your mentee define what they need to succeed in their new academic role?
  5. What are the strategies and resources for the mentor to offer the mentee to successfully negotiate establishing a research program in the mentee's new position?

Comment 1: Does s/he enjoy research? This is the key. If yes, then s/he must look at all opportunities both locally and nationally. How many years of research training has she had? Does she have a good focus for her interests?

Helpful Resources:

Comment 2: She must look beyond UCSF. Although I may want her to stay, it is important that she finds what works best for her. Having multiple job offers is very helpful in the negotiating process. I agree with the recommendations on protected time etc. in the AAMC guidelines. These are important when evaluating what is needed to succeed in a junior faculty position. She needs to talk with co-mentors in her department of interest. The UCSF "checklist" of important points for discussion between department chairs and new appointees can assist them for all their job searches. She will learn a lot by having a broad spectrum of job searches across the country and may be surprised about an opportunity elsewhere.

Comment 3: In addition to those comments, she has no external funding. Do I think she can obtain funding in the current funding situation? I'd encourage her to apply to same tier institutions—not just nearby places in which she'd like to live, so she can negotiate with UCSF from a position of academic and scientific strength. I'd tell her that sometimes you have to go away to be more marketable to return. Moreover, interviewing at peer institutions is a way to help cultivate a national reputation that will be needed for promotion from Assistant to Associate. Also, total compensation at UCSF and elsewhere includes much more than just the salary, but start-up funds, release time, retirement plans, housing, mortgage, parking, childcare, gym, DSL/Cable modem, etc. (See also the New Researcher's Survival Guide). Perhaps the most important item is release time in order to write manuscripts to get grants and get promoted.

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Advice on finding a faculty position in your department

T. L. is currently a 30-year old single fellow in her last year of research training. She is now looking for a faculty position in your department. As her lead mentor you have discussed her career interests. She is interested in continuing her research program and currently does not have extramural funding.

Questions:

  1. What specific advice resources would you give your mentee?
  2. What resources are available to you and your mentee to facilitate job searches?
  3. How do you help your mentee define a "perfect" fit between institution and new junior faculty?
  4. How do you help your mentee define what they need to succeed in their new academic role?
  5. What are the strategies and resources for the mentor to offer the mentee to successfully negotiate establishing a research program in the mentee's new position?

Comment 1: Does s/he enjoy research? This is key. If yes, then s/he must look at all opportunities both locally and nationally. How many years of research training has she had? Does she have a good focus for her interests? I would guide her closely knowing the intricacies of the department. I would also recommend talking with other co-mentors in the department, recent recruits, and fellows in different departments and what packages they are negotiating to become successful.

Comment 2: I agree with the importance of looking nationally to find out what is available. There are many benefits in doing so, including a chance to network, define goals and resource needs, see different department models, increase negotiation power.

Comment 3: At age 30, it is unlikely that this person has more than two or three years of research experience. That may not be enough to secure a K-Award, which is the obvious best funding in this scenario. I would want to know about the likelihood of success in securing a K-Award based on her work to date. Ideally, she would stay at UCSF to get the K-Award, which would then improve her negotiating position, both here and elsewhere. However, if I think that her work at UCSF is unlikely to lead to a K-Award, then looking at other opportunities would be a good idea.

Comment 4: What is the "right" salary"? It is best to have as much information as possible: Find salary information online (Or you can access at the UCSF Library. Just go to the Information Desk, the one that is forward and on your right as you enter the library, and ask for the UC-wide salary data. It's an entire shelf with every employee's base salary, other compensation and total, listed alphabetically by employee last name.)

Comment 5: She has no external funding. Do I think she can obtain funding in the current funding situation? I'd encourage her to apply to same tier institutions—not just nearby places in which she'd like to live, so she can negotiate with UCSF from a position of academic and scientific strength. I'd tell her that sometimes you have to go away to be more marketable to return. Moreover, interviewing at peer institutions is a way to help cultivate a national reputation that will be needed for promotion from Assistant to Associate. Also, total compensation at UCSF and elsewhere includes much more than just the salary, but start-up funds, release time, retirement plans, housing, mortgage, parking, childcare, gym, DSL/Cable modem, etc. (See also the New Researcher's Survival Guide). Perhaps the most important item is release time in order to write manuscripts to get grants and get promoted.

If the candidate has enough papers coming out, an accelerated review for a merit can be discussed—whether start-up salary will be flat during the initial years even if the X component increases through a merit.

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Advice on developing an independent, funded research program

A senior faculty member with multiple R01 funded clinical/translational studies has a need and funding for a half-time study physician. The department chair combines this 50% study physician with additional 20% clinical duties and funding, and 30% department funding for protected time for 2 years to "develop into an independently funded clinical researcher." The position is in the Clinical X series, and the search committee is comprised of Clinical X and HS Clinical faculty. What and how can the selected candidate negotiate in order to develop an independent, funded program of research?

Comment 1: The investment for this individual should be training through the CTST—that is what will bring about independence in the future.

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Mentee and partner both seek position at UCSF

Your mentee is a highly productive junior faculty member in the adjunct series, she has just received a K award and her research is going well. You would like to keep her in your department permanently. Her husband is similar though in a different department, also has a K award and is progressing nicely, but it is less clear that a long term in residence academic position will be available for him here. Your mentee and her husband are dedicated to staying in academics and willing to move to another university if necessary. She would like to discuss with you what would be the best timing for her to seek out other positions and to begin negotiations within your department regarding her position.

Comment 1: This is and should be a dual recruitment......best to look around because that will offer both of them the best opportunity. Certainly timing should be before the end of the K...because it takes time to establish independence once the K is done.

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What is a reasonable salary for a new faculty?

Comment 1: This is a complex question. Certainly having as much information as possible is helpful. Faculty salaries can be found online on the state pay website.

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