Senior Research Fellow Heads Session on Research Mentoring

sdrc img1In a world that is increasingly volatile and unpredictable, research universities allow us to think resiliently.

This was one of the many take-aways provided by SDRC research fellow and past director Dr. Ma. Elena Chiong-Javier in her talk on “The Role and Challenges of Research Mentoring in a Research University” held on October 19 at Yuchengco Hall. Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts as part of its Brown Bag Sessions, the talk by Dr. Chiong-Javier defined what a research university is, and how research mentoring is a primary task in higher learning institutions. Specifically, she discussed the role of research mentoring within the context of DLSU, what major challenges were faced, and what recommendations could be made to address these challenges.

Now retired after over three decades of service to the University, Dr. Chiong-Javier connected with the audience—made up largely of undergraduate students—by pointing out that graduates draw upon their school experience to create a human society. In the university, the research center plays a crucial part in the education that students receive by developing new ideas and fostering creativity. They add to the global reputation of their home countries, attract fresh talent, and provide an underlying state of awareness. Most importantly, research universities respond to the need to provide knowledge products, particularly in higher education.

To support research universities in performing these tasks, mentors share their expertise and valuable advice with the mentees they are matched with. As described by Dr. Chiong-Javier, the research mentor serves as teacher, role model, motivator, and supportive advocate; passes on scrupulous research ethics and values to the mentee; and facilitates the development of networks for the mentee’s professional research career. The ideal research mentor, she noted, writes and publishes regularly, disseminates research findings, and contributes to national development through policy reports.

Given the challenges faced in research mentorship at DLSU, Dr. Chiong-Javier offered the following suggestions: Standardizing the framework for mentoring to guide all pertinent units; formulating clear ethical guidelines for good mentorship; ensuring that faculty, researchers and students are uniformly oriented about the standards developed for research mentoring; encouraging and facilitating more co-authored publications of faculty mentors and graduate/postgraduate mentees; considering the work of mentors in promotion or tenure decisions as a formal incentive; and strengthening the research mentorship capacity of young or inexperienced faculty through collaborations with senior faculty members.

In the open forum that followed, issues discussed involved the need to ensure that graduate mentoring is at par with undergraduate mentoring (Prof. Cristina Rodriguez of the Behavioral Sciences Department noted that graduate students from other schools may not undergo the rigorous training through pedagogy, work habits, work ethics, and critical thinking that DLSU students are given); to bridge the age and generation gap between mentors and mentees (by staying in touch with the young, and by being confident in one’s knowledge of research so that it is quickly transmitted); the challenge of dealing with thesis panelists whose thinking differs from that of the mentor (which can be dealt with through strong research training for the mentee, and by resolving any pressing issues among the department faculty prior to the mentee’s presentation); and the matter of lack of consideration for mentorship in the case of faculty promotion (which has been a long standing issue, that will hopefully be addressed in future deliberations).