IMSD Mentor/Trainee/Program Expectations

Below we outline the respective commitments of trainee and mentor to guide and maximize your participation in the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) program. Section 1 outlines Program Expectations and Commitments, and Section 2 outlines the Trainee and Mentor Goals and Commitments that the trainee and mentor jointly agree upon.

1. Program Expectations and Commitments

The IMSD expects that trainees will display professionalism and a dedication to their field through research, coursework, experiential activities and service during the period of IMSD support and during subsequent years of thesis research. The IMSD expects that mentors will display a dedication to the training of graduate students, and that they will reinforce the values of the requirements listed below.

  • To commit to IMSD engagement throughout graduate training, with the knowledge and expectation that engagement will be heaviest in the first two years of graduate study. 
  • That the trainee will enroll in and maintain a B average in IMSD-required courses. The required courses for this compact are survival skills and ethics and a course on experimental design and data analysis.
  • That the trainee will conduct thesis research in the laboratory of an approved IMSD mentor, with co-mentorship as appropriate from IMSD participating faculty. 
  • That the trainee will participate in required IMSD quarterly meetings.
  • That the trainee and mentor will attend the annual IMSD program retreat.
  • That the trainee will participate in an on/off-campus experiential immersion during the two-year period of support.
  • That the trainee will complete an annual Individual Development Plan using a suitable IMSD-reviewed IDP instrument, and that the mentor will review this with the trainee at least annually.

  • Providing stipend and tuition, health insurance, and travel support for the trainee for the first two years of graduate study.
  • If progress in Year 1 meets the expectations outlined above and below, to renew support for another year.
  • Providing cohort-building, didactic, seminar-based and experiential training opportunities for the trainee.
  • IMSD advisor will meet at least quarterly with the trainee throughout Year 2 of the IMSD to guide the trainee’s career development, and to provide additional resources and support as applicable.
  • Continuous quality improvement of the training program by soliciting feedback and incorporating changes.

2. Trainee and Mentor Goals and Commitments

Together, the trainee and mentor should review and agree to the abbreviated Compact Between Biomedical Graduate Students and their Research Advisors (modified from the AAMC compact developed by the AAMC GREAT Group), and should discuss and agree on answers to the questions listed below. The trainee and mentor should feel free to add additional relevant guidelines and questions.

  1. I acknowledge that I am primarily responsible for the completion of my degree and development in my career.
  2. I will be knowledgeable of all Georgetown University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and IMSD policies and requirements.
  3. I will be a good lab citizen and do my part to maintain a clean, safe and inclusive lab environment and be respectful of the resources I use.
  4. I will work with my advisor to ensure my experiments are conducted in a rigorous manner, and to maintain detailed and organized laboratory records.
  5. I will honor deadlines and commitments.

  1. I will be supportive, equitable, accessible, encouraging, and respectful.
  2. I will provide an environment dedicated to rigorous and responsible science that is intellectually stimulating and free of harassment and discrimination.
  3. I will provide financial resources, as appropriate, for the trainee to conduct their research.
  4. I will work with the trainee to plan, analyze and interpret the results of the research work and set reasonable timelines for goals and for feedback from me.
  5. I will work with the trainee and the IMSD to ensure that completion of the internship experience is balanced with the trainee’s research responsibilities.

  1. What will be the schedule of one-on-one meetings and laboratory meetings?
  2. What are the policies and lab expectations regarding work hours and vacation scheduling?
  3. What are the expectations and lab policies regarding shared laboratory duties and responsibilities?
  4. What are the expectations and lab policies regarding the presentation of data at research conferences/meetings?
  5. What are the expectations and lab policies regarding authorship?
  6. What are the three major goals the trainee and mentor have for the next year?
  7. When will this compact be reviewed next? How will it be updated?

Feel free to add more questions as relevant.

If conflicts arise in the trainee-mentor relationship, the trainee and mentor should work in good faith to resolve these conflicts. If you are unable to resolve a conflict, please consult the IMSD Conflict Resolution Protocol below for guidance.

Conflict Resolution Protocol

Preventing Conflict

Trainees and mentors should align their expectations through the mentoring guidelines above. To prevent conflicts from arising as a result of misaligned program expectations, we’ve designed the program, trainee and mentor commitments above, which outline expectations of the mentorship arrangement once an IMSD trainee joins a research group at the end of their first year in the IMSD. Careful alignment of expectations between mentor and trainee will be very helpful in preventing many sources of conflict.

Mitigating Conflicts

Our first step in conflict resolution is to empower our trainees to navigate difficult conversations. If a trainee brings a conflict to the IMSD directors, the first advice (except on issues of harassment or scientific misconduct) will be for the trainee to outline their specific causes of concern and have a conversation with their mentor. Lack of communication and misaligned expectations are common sources of contention, and can often be resolved by improving communication and realigning expectations. We have designed a framework for aligning mentoring expectations which helps trainees reflect on their mentoring needs, and which serves as a rubric for realignment in consultation with mentors.

In the event that a conflict is more serious (e.g., mentor or trainee is unwilling to meet and discuss, discussions have ceased to be productive), one of the IMSD directors will speak one-on-one with the trainee, mentor, and the director of graduate studies for the relevant academic program to gather information about the nature of the conflict, and potentially to facilitate a group discussion.

If the IMSD directors have a real or perceived conflict (e.g., they are close collaborators with the mentor), then a member of the Executive Committee will take their place.

In the event that a trainee is failing to meet IMSD obligations (e.g., attend required events, perform satisfactorily in required courses), a remediation plan will be developed. This plan requires specific goals, milestones and timelines.

In the highly unlikely event that the timelines are not met and the trainee does not show an improvement in progress and participation, the IMSD may remove the trainee from the training program at the end of the appointment year. Unless a trainee is dismissed by their graduate program, we do not anticipate termination of support in the middle of an appointment cycle.

In the event that a mentor does not meet the mutually agreed upon mentor/trainee/IMSD expectations outlined above, the mentor can be removed from IMSD participating faculty status for subsequent trainees.

The Office of the Student Ombuds is a confidential resource that helps students to explore matters of concern and identify the appropriate campus unit for resolution. Students might seek the ombud’s assistance if they are experiencing conflict or difficulty during their time at Georgetown. Difficulties may occur broadly from personal conflicts in student organizations, work-related issues, or in academic affairs. Students are encouraged to engage with the ombuds early to help de-escalate any potential issues.

There may be areas of conflict that are out of scope of the ombuds because they are covered by other processes, including investigation of discrimination/harassment or retaliation, investigation of bias-related incidents or hate crimes, participation in internal or external formal complaints, or legal advice. Thus, the ombuds supplements and complements other student support services on campus, such as the Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action grievance process, the Bias Reporting System, the Honor Council, the Academic Resource Center, existing Student Conduct protocols, Ethics/Compliance Reporting, the Office of Student Financial Services, and the Academic Deans’ offices.

The Faculty Handbook and The Code of Student Conduct both prohibit harassment, bullying and discrimination. In the case that such a situation occurs, reporting mechanisms can be found via the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA).

The Georgetown faculty handbook also “prohibits retaliation, harassment, or other adverse action against an individual for making a complaint in good faith, assisting in an investigation, opposing harassment or otherwise exercising rights protected by law” which protects both the trainee and the reporting faculty member/staff member. The faculty handbook “prohibits taking any adverse academic or employment related action against an individual based on an unsubstantiated allegation or rumor of harassment. Retaliation should be reported promptly to IDEAA and may result in disciplinary action.”

Georgetown University prohibits sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, and stalking. For information about campus resources and reporting sexual misconduct, please visit the university’s How to Get Help guide.