Call to Action

Join us in our mission to improve mentoring climates for Early Career Researchers.


Download our guidelines for dissemination to prospective trainees, advocacy, and goal-setting.


Sign our guidelines to show your commitment to improving training spaces for ECRs

Report and Verify

Help us crowdsource information on department alignment with guidelines or check if a department you are joining has signed and reported.

Guidelines at a Glance
These guidelines were developed to be implemented at the departmental level. However, we understand that different institutions will have different levels of implementation and oversight when it comes to postdoctoral and graduate trainees. In the context of these guidelines ‘department’ can also refer to a specific training program or office that oversees multiple trainees across multiple research groups.Please be aware that excellence tiers within a single guideline build upon each other. In other words, Silver includes all Bronze guidelines, and Gold includes Silver and Bronze.

The Department…

Not Implemented Bronze Silver Gold
Supplemental Mentoring Support Encourages more mentors in addition to the PI or does nothing. Requires at least one co-mentor in addition to the PI to oversee the trainee’s progression through the program. Requires the creation of a mentoring committee that is separate from the thesis advisory committee to oversee the trainee’s progression through the program. Requires that the mentoring committee contains three or more individuals to address specific mentoring needs and meets on a regular basis to track the trainee’s progression through the program.
Peer Support Cohorts Provides no formal organization of peer cohorts. Groups incoming trainees into peer cohorts and organizes social events for interaction and networking. Pairs incoming trainees with at least one other, more senior peer mentor in the department. Groups all incoming trainees into small Peer Mentor groups. The department has a trained facilitator on staff to conduct regular peer mentor meetings.
Required Mentor Training Encourages PIs to take mentor training or does nothing. Requires all PIs to take mentor training at least once before supervising PhD or postdoctoral trainees. Requires all PIs take recurring mentor training. Data on mentor training is publicly available to trainees. Requires all PIs, lab personnel, and trainees in supervisory roles to take recurring mentor training.
Anonymous Exit Interviews Encourages some form of anonymous exit survey or does nothing. Collects data from required anonymous exit surveys and uses it for departmental improvement. Makes summary data from anonymous exit surveys publicly available and disseminates it to incoming trainees. Collects alumni data in follow-up surveys (e.g. 2 years later). Exceptional service and mentoring are rewarded. Patterns of harmful behavior are addressed.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Efforts Encourages D&I training or does nothing. Requires recurring D&I and unconscious bias training for individuals of all career stages and provides accommodations for disabled trainees. Has clear and transparent guidelines for hiring and recruitment committees, publicly reports the demographics of the department, and offers pipeline programs for former trainees. Has a D&I office or point person specifically tasked with and given the power to drive culture change in the department, provide support to URM trainees, conduct and publish results from climate surveys, and sit on hiring committees.
Transparent Accountability Aims to foster inclusive and safe training and workplace environments or says nothing. Requires sexual harassment and bystander intervention for everyone in the department, and has a clear no tolerance policy for bullying and harassment. Provides safe, clear, and anonymous avenues for reporting harmful behavior and has a publicly available plan for dealing with such behavior. Makes use of a third party company that is trauma-informed for investigating and resolving harmful behavior, and transparently abides by decisions reached.
Clear Guidelines and Timelines Encourages PIs to provide clear guidelines and timelines for completion or does nothing. Has clear and appropriate checkpoints for completion of training, monitored by PI, trainee, and a third-party and requires mentor/mentee compacts. Provides all incoming trainees and their supervisors with a list of departmental expectations for the supervisor and the trainee, which both must sign. Mentoring plans/requirements for trainees on non-training grants are modeled after training grant (e.g., NIH T32, F31/32) requirements. Has limits on the number of years that can be spent in the training program, and provides appropriate pathways for career advancement to postdoc and staff scientist or independent positions.
Mental Health and Wellness Resources Aims to provide trainees with wellness resources or does nothing Has a public and easily-navigable website with a list of all available resources, promoting them to incoming trainees, and holds optional mental health first aid training for those interested. Provides all trainees with benefits and has clear standard salary and paid leave policies. Hosts regular mental health awareness events. The department requires at least one person per research group to be trained in mental health first aid and regularly surveys student mental health, publicly reporting results.
Career Development Resources Encourages PIs to provide career guidance for trainees or does nothing. Hosts career-specific panels and workshops. Trainees are required to attend at least one, and are allowed to choose those of interest. An individual development plan is required for all incoming trainees, with minimal yearly check-ins with the PI and an additional mentor. Has a discipline-specific career development office or person. Career and professional development activities and workshops are integrated into the training curriculum. The department regularly reports on graduation and employment data and promotes this among prospective trainees. Supports trainees exploring career choices through internships and fellowships and keeps an updated list of program alumni for use by current trainees as potential career mentors and networking.

Partners and Collaborators

Thank you to everyone who participated in bringing about the meeting and helping develop the guidelines.

Meeting Locations

Big10 Conference Center
UW - Madison
Ohio State University
Boston University
University of Michigan
UC - Berkeley
UC - Irvine

Speakers and Facilitators

Susanna Harris, PhD Balance
Dr. Kat Milligan-Myhre, University of Alaska Anchorage
Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Michigan State
Dr. Danika Khong, Scismic
Elizabeth Wu, Scismic

Steering Committee

Nancy Schwartz, UChicago
Michelle Swanson, University of Michigan
Elizabeth Wu, Scismic
Danika Khong, Scismic
Joanne Kamens, Addgene
Veronica Womak, Northwestern
Sarah Hokanson, Boston University
Nathan Vanderford, University of Kentucky
Antonio Nuñez, Michigan State University

Help Support Our Mission!

Get in Touch

Contact us to find out how you can get involved!

Email Us

Contact Us