How AuthorAID offers you the chance to be a mentor
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In an article published on the Wiley Exchanges blog last week, INASP’s AuthorAID director Julie Walker explains the AuthorAID mentoring process and how learned societies can encourage their members to get involved

AuthorAID workshop Source: INASP

At this time of year, many of us turn our thoughts to how we can make positive changes in our lives and the lives of others. Some of us long to provide practical help and support, but feel we lack the necessary skills or time commitment. For experienced researchers, editors and librarians there is a great way that you can give practical, hands-on support to others and one that doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time or require you to travel. You can support a researcher in a developing country through INASP’s AuthorAID project. The support and advice of people who are more experienced in research communication can make a huge difference in helping these researchers to publish their first papers or develop the confidence to present their research findings at a conference.

AuthorAID aims to support developing-country researchers to publish and communicate their research. Mentoring is one of the key components of the project and volunteer mentors play an essential role. Mentors come from diverse backgrounds and include journal editors, science communicators, librarians, senior researchers, retired academics and postdoctoral students. They can decide on the level and nature of support they want to give, whether it’s short-term, task-based support or longer-term, mentoring support. They can also choose the tasks they want to accept and decline any they don’t have time for, or don’t feel comfortable with. Support could be as simple as answering a query or proofreading a manuscript, or as complex as guiding a researcher through the whole publication process. Some mentors also provide support through the AuthorAID discussion list where they can share knowledge and expertise in an ad hoc and informal way.

Through mentoring support, AuthorAID researchers develop the skills and confidence needed to publish in reputable journals, to win awards and scholarships and, vitally, to disseminate and increase the impact of their research findings both in their own countries and globally. Much of the research being undertaken by AuthorAID mentees is development focused and has real implications for economic growth and health in developing countries.

A great example of the potential benefits of the process is the story of AuthorAID mentee, Rhoune Ochako from Kenya. She is carrying out research on maternal and child health issues and first joined AuthorAID in 2010. She wrote “My experience with AuthorAID has been great! … My advice to young researchers is that there is help out there, go look for it; it will not come knocking on your door…” Since joining AuthorAID she has published six papers in high-quality journals, has been promoted to Senior Research Manager within her organization, and is now a mentor herself.

Although the satisfaction of giving back to the academic community is a key reason mentors join the programme, a recent survey that INASP carried out of AuthorAID mentors revealed that they feel they get much more out of mentoring than they were anticipating. Mentors also get a chance to refresh or expand their existing publishing skills, add to their own research knowledge, and make new academic contacts across the globe.

Dan Korbel, an AuthorAID mentor, explained, “…being an AuthorAID mentor goes beyond a conventional teacher-student relationship – it is a really stimulating and worthwhile learning process for both mentee and mentor.”

We are also delighted to announce a new partnership with Wiley to work with the company and its society partners to recruit new mentors. To support this partnership, we have developed a society toolkit (see links below for any society wishing to promote the programme to its members).

To find out more about AuthorAID, or to sign up for the mentoring programme or discussion list, please visit: www.authoraid.info. You can also find us on Twitter.

Wishing you all very happy holidays!

AuthorAID society toolkit
AuthorAID A4 mentoring ad
AuthorAID A5 society leaflet
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About Julie Walker

Julie Walker is the Programme Manager of Publishing Support at INASP and the Director of the AuthorAID project.

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