To be a mentor, you must be a full-time student or trainee associated with a Quebec research institution (Francophone or Anglophone).
Mentors are responsible for accompanying and guiding mentees in their discovery of scientific research and the completion of their research project, ensuring a climate conducive to learning. To ensure that the mentoring program runs smoothly, we have put in place a Mentor Code of Conduct and will require that it be signed by the mentors before the program begins.
It is important to mention that all mentors will be required to: undergo a criminal background check; sign and agree to abide by the Mentor Code of Conduct and the research project agreement; participate in mandatory training and identification of project tasks.
Mentees will meet twice a week, for two hours each time. During the first three weeks, you will be asked to supervise these two weekly sessions, while you introduce the project, the tools and their respective tasks to your mentees. After the first few weeks, when your team has gained enough autonomy, you will supervise only one of these two sessions, two hours per week.
Your commitment is essential, which is why all our mentors will receive fair financial compensation thanks to the support of our partners. If necessary, some travel expenses may also be covered by InitiaSciences.
When you commit to becoming an InitiaSciences mentor, you will be trained in science outreach and communication methods that will allow you to introduce young people to your research topic and the scientific context in which it is conducted. Furthermore, our team will accompany you in the task of finding a research project for your team. This does not mean defining a new research project, but rather identifying one or more well-defined tasks in your current research (which would take you one or two weeks maximum) that you could train the young people to carry out. We will help you define a detailed action plan to assess the feasibility of the identified project. As the project progresses and in consultation with you, we will reassess the initial scope or objectives as needed, depending on the direction the project takes. As we all know, research is not a straight line!
The answer is yes! Since the goal is to provide youth with the tools they need to contribute to your project, the autonomy that comes with a period of time when you are less available may actually encourage them to try new things on their own. However, in order to ensure that this does not negatively impact the project, you will need to make sure that you plan for sufficient training of youth in the tasks to be completed in your absence, give them clear guidelines, and review their logs weekly to assess progress and guide them on next steps. If you are unable to physically attend the weekly mentoring meeting, you will need to offer the youth equivalent time to at least contact you in writing with their questions during the week. In any case, our team is there to accompany you through all these steps. We are also graduate students, familiar with your concerns and questions, and are committed to the success of the projects as well as ensuring that you can manage your role and obligations in the InitiaSciences mentorship in a healthy way.
In general, the format adopted will be to have one mentor per team. This facilitates the monitoring of the project and is also in line with the choice of project: generally, a researcher is alone in charge of a research project, even if several collaborators may be involved. However, a co-tutoring arrangement can be considered in the case where the project is led by two young researchers who are in charge of distinct and complementary aspects of the project. It should be noted that co-supervision will affect the financial compensation received by each mentor, to reflect the sharing of the workload and in the spirit of fairness to the other mentors. Regardless of the circumstances, this decision should be made in consultation with the InitiaSciences team and the research supervisors of the mentors involved. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on this subject!
In order to participate in the InitiaSciences program, we will require approval of the Mentor's participation from his/her supervisor. In order to do so, the mentor, his/her supervisor and InitiaSciences will sign a joint agreement detailing the roles, responsibilities and commitments of each.
We want to provide our mentees with quality mentoring not only in terms of the expertise of the mentors, but also in the way the interaction with the mentees takes place. This is one of the reasons why we will apply a training and criminal background check requirement to all our mentors.
For this reason, and to encourage direct collaboration between mentors and mentees, it is preferable that the supervisor not attend the weekly meetings during which mentees work on their research project with the mentor.
On the other hand, we recognize the value of the extensive expertise of supervisors and appreciate their desire to help train the next generation of researchers. We therefore encourage mentor-supervisor research consultations, as needed, to clarify the framework, direction and feasibility of the project, or to obtain expert advice during the interpretation phase of the results. These consultations are to be carried out within the framework of the mentor-supervisor relationship, in order to avoid any situation in which the supervisor's position of authority would lead to decisions directly impacting the research project without the prior agreement of the mentor and the InitiaSciences project monitoring team.
In addition, it is possible to invite mentees to attend research group meetings or conferences with other researchers, outside of the 4 hours per week devoted to the project. In this case, prior authorization must be obtained from an adult responsible for each mentee.
The InitiaSciences program focuses on research projects from various programs of study in the natural, social and human sciences. It is not excluded that its mission will grow in the future but for the next few years, graduate students in other programs, such as arts and humanities programs, would not be candidates for mentorship.
The InitiaSciences program is intended for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and high school or CEGEP students in Quebec. It is largely funded by Quebec organizations and institutions. The program is therefore restricted to graduate and post-doctoral students at Quebec institutions. It is possible to participate if you are from elsewhere, as long as you are currently studying or doing an internship in Quebec.
You can see the complete list of our partners here.
The InitiaSciences program provides for accommodations or distance options for specific cases. However, for the first year, we will prioritize mentors from the Greater Montreal area.
For mentors, we invite you to contact us by simply specifying this point in the Main Affiliation section. For mentees as well, information regarding your geographic location will be requested upon registration. We will follow up with you on the options available to you based on the applications received.
The safety of mentees throughout the project is one of our priorities. We will therefore ensure that the mentees' projects are carried out in the safest possible environment and that all necessary safety training is taken by the mentees. We will also ensure that access to the laboratory is granted to the mentee after validation by the mentor's research director and the laboratory director. In the event that access to the laboratory is not possible for the mentees, a project that can be carried out outside the laboratory may be considered.
Please feel free to contact the InitiaSciences team via the form in the Contact Us section of our website. We will be happy to answer your questions about the project and the role of the mentors.