, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 471-482

Mentoring: Some ethical considerations

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Abstract

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.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at a conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation on Mentoring and Research Values: Students as Vital Human Resources, Chicago, March 1995.