As a new offer to members, the Children's Research Network have launched a structured research mentoring programme targeted at practitioner researchers and other professionals engaged in research with children and young people outside of academic structures and thus without the same access to support and supervision. The new programme is particularly relevant for early years educators, youth workers, social workers, teachers and research interested professionals working with children, young people and/or families. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or are looking for someone to mentor you in your research endeavours, please read on, fill in the below expression of interest form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In March 2017, CRN conducted a survey on practitioner research support needs. An important finding in this survey was that practitioners who are interested in engaging with or conducting research often do so under very challenging conditions:
- Engagement with research is often something they have to do outside their normal job and therefore in their own time where there is little support and few resources available
- The majority of practitioners who responded to the survey only felt somewhat supported in their engagement with research, or not at all
- Practitioners experience a lack of confidence in basic research and dissemination skill
- Practitioners see a great benefit in regional opportunities for networking and support
- Practitioners lack people they can share ideas, queries and problems with
- Practitioners communicate a desire to have better link with academic researchers
In the survey, several respondents identified the need for a structured research mentoring programme where practitioners and non-academic researchers can be matched with an experienced researcher or expert who can commit a bit of time to act as a support and advisor to the research mentee. In order to respond to these needs, the Children’s Research Network has created a structured research mentoring programme. This programme has many advantages for both mentees and mentors.
Option 1: Expert research mentor
A mentee is matched with an experienced researcher working in a similar theme or relevant topic who acts as mentor to the mentee.
- The mentoring should involve support with and advice on specific research queries (including research planning, data collection, analysis, report writing, dissemination etc) via face-to-face meetings and/or online via email.
- The CRN’s Special Interest Groups may act as first port of call as a group of expert mentors. Each SIG may identify an appropriate mentor for a mentee or may itself act in a mentoring capacity where appropriate.
- Where SIGs do not exist on an identified topic or theme, individual members of the Network, such as for example Network Ambassadors or other known active members, may act as mentors.
Option 2: Peer research mentoring
A mentee is matched with one or more peers in a similar stage of his/her ‘research career’
- Peer mentors can offer each other support on different aspects of their research and somewhere to bounce ideas off
- Provide networking opportunities
- Collaborate on certain aspects of projects
- Peer mentoring groups can be established such as thematic or geographical communities of learning, consisting of people from different backgrounds conducting research
For both options, it is crucial to the mentoring relationship that it continues over a defined period of time that suits the mentees’ needs.
Benefit to mentors include:
- Improved access to latest research and data in his/her field through the mentee’s research project and contacts
- A mentor can build up a local network of mentees working in a similar field and thus progress the compilation of research in his/her area – long term, peer mentors could act as a chair for a local (geographical) or thematic research community and thus be part of an existing initiative to get something new off the ground
- Develop mentoring skills
- CRN will host an annual peer research mentoring event where mentees and mentors get the opportunity to Network and to share research projects, queries and jointly problem-solve (building on CRN’s existing project days)
- The mentee may have a lot of relevant data to which the mentor may gain access for own research
- A public profile on the CRN website as a Network Ambassador and Mentor to increase professional reputation
- Mentees may be interested in taking on new research tasks in collaboration with their mentor in order to progress their own research careers or become more confident researchers