A result of four year implementation of a mentoring programme for early-career researchers, Katerina Cidlinska and Martina Fucimanova prepared a book of interviews with their mentors and mentees and offer a unique insight into the barriers and challenges facing early career researchers in Czech public research and universities.
The book was written with three goals. One is to testify to the benefits of the mentoring programmes for junior researchers and to attract the interest of both researchers and managers of research institutions. The second is to outline the design of the mentoring programme run by the Centre for Gender & Science, and to inspire other institutions to launch such initiatives. The third is to address international mentoring programme coordinators, and perhaps start international collaboration which would give our and their mentees the opportunity to establish interesting and beneficial international contacts.
Although it is becoming increasingly challenging to launch a research career in the Czech Republic, Czech academic institutions rarely employ proactive HR policies. The responsibility for professional development of junior researchers is almost exclusively on the researchers themselves and their advisors. The generally accepted assumption is that proper researchers find all the necessary information themselves.
The interviews in this book show how our mentees deal with the changing conditions in research and how they manage their research careers. They share the issues and challenges they faced when they joined our programme, they evaluate their success in dealing with the challenges, and speak about the unexpected benefits they received.
We hope the book can be a source of inspiration for coordinators of mentoring programmes as well as for HR and career centre managers and academics in managing positions as well as national and international policy makers. The interviews discuss examples of good and bad practice in training junior researchers at different institutions and different fields. Anonymisation of interview data encouraged our mentees to speak very openly, which gives all these actors a unique opportunity to learn about opinions and concerns to which they may otherwise have a limited access.
The book is available for download here.