Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 471-482

First online:

Mentoring: Some ethical considerations

  • Vivian WeilAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Ethics in the Professions, Illinois Institute of Technology Email author 

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To counter confusion about the term ‘mentor’, and address concerns about the scarcity of mentoring, I argue for an “honorific” definition, according to which a mentor is virtuous like a saint or hero. Given the unbounded commitment of mentors, mentoring relationships must be voluntary. In contrast, the role of advisor can be specified, mandated, and monitored. I argue that departments and research groups have a moral responsibility to devise a system of roles and structures to meet graduate students’ and postdoctoral fellows’ needs for information and advice.


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