A good research undertaking always has a comprehensive plan. A serious researcher does take time to draw up a proposal to show to the approving authorities the basic research purpose that is self-explanatory yet comprehensive. As a matter of interest, new and early-stage investigators need to form a detailed plan of action to be able to elaborate on the following:
- Basic research questions that need to be addressed and why.
- Consolidated understanding and review of the existing literature and infrastructure.
- Selection of appropriate research methods and technologies.
- Plan of realistic action needed for the successful completion of the research project.
- Establishment of the predefined developmental path to take research from one transition to another to reach the result successfully.
Now, there are two specialized conduits available to carry out any research or investigation; namely:
- Institution-based research.
- Mentor based research.
In this piece of writing, we are going to go into the details of both avenues to arrive at an informed and objective undertaking to know which one is better.
Let us begin with institution-based research.
Institution Based Research
We are practically living in the age of science and technology; today, you can select institutional support based on suitability and preference.
Young scientists are fortunate to choose from any number of research institutions, practical study organizations, think tanks, applied sciences centers, et al, that cultivate, train, and support young talent. Institution-based research enables fine rearing and harvesting of innovation and collaborations across the traditions of disciplines and applications.
Interdisciplinary science learning and research institutions are coming forward with attractive support packages with an explicit aim to encourage young scientific engagement of participatory nature by having peer leaders, scientific giants, professors, and financial councilors in one place with the downside of commercialization of research. (Mirowski and Horn, 2005)
Institution-based research qualifies for easier inquiries, investigations, and presentations in that one can access hi-tech and adequately funded support. For instance, the American Institutes (AIR) for Research has successfully anticipated shifts in the world of STEMM and initiated proactive campaigns for making the best sciences available to enhance life choices and lifestyles. AIR has gone out of its way to invest in young and innovative investigators and researchers for experimentation and/ or testing for they are the life and blood of science. Research in itself is an ancient tradition meant to facilitate knowledge in a way that resolves the medical, social, and technical problems that we face every day.
For example: as we speak, young biomedical researchers are investigating traditional research conducted to establish a link between the gut microbiome and osteoarthritis with a specific institutionalized aim to find therapeutic and pharmaceutical solutions for complex gastrointestinal diseases.
Let us examine a few advantages and disadvantages of institution-based research.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Institutions provide a framework with improved preparatory and supportive infrastructure.
- Institutions design and promote advanced research methods and technologies.
- Institutions play a dynamic role in the welfare of the community they operate in.
- Institutions allow fair access to the structured financial plan, support, and guidance.
- Institutions demand that practitioners only entertain evidence-based exercises.
- Institutions assist in policymaking with the evidence-based results.
- Institutions aim to go beyond the legal obligation to encourage diversity and inclusion in their work environment and operations.
- The institutionalization of research laboratories can be extremely financialized in the process of funding and fundraising.
- The corporate research agenda tends to dominate the institutions’ main body of work.
- Parent companies of the institution-driven research focus on catering to the market objectives.
- Some institutional funders make patents their priority over publications for public welfare.
- Short-term research is gaining prominence due to the increased commercialization of end products.
- In some cases, business needs tend to take over the purpose and range of research.
- Academic research institutes are less than consistent in their policy of tenure.
- Research institutes are inclined to monopolize you in that you are not always free to pursue your areas of interest and focus on your chosen projects.
- Institutionalized systems and bodies of inquiries sometimes deviate from meritocratic impartiality due to political influences.
- In the institutional framework, you are made to let go off the opportunity cost – that has to give up existing benefits for another option – in favor of the limited and sometimes fragmented support.
- It is fair to say that a lot of the research is not even published due to the institutional authority that presides over your research and funding.
Mentors are professionally accomplished individuals who guide us through the career. They can be anyone from a teacher, friend, family member, or even stranger, who leaves an impression on us or someone who challenges us for good. Having a mentor in life is essential for personal development. The wealth of knowledge and counsel they provide is vital in times of different transitions that life is generally comprised of. If you are one of the lucky mentees, relying upon the solid foundation originated from your mentor’s rich experiences and sound clarity to navigate life, you must respect and cherish that invaluable person at every given opportunity. (Mobley, Jaret, Marsh, and Lim, 1994)
Mentor Based Research
Mentoring, as we have established above, is a relationship between a mentor who is a professionally more knowledgeable and experienced person, and a mentee who is struggling to have an independent research career. To put it simply, mentoring is the process in which knowledge and skills that cannot be achieved by reading background literature are transferred from a mentor to the mentee.
The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) assists researchers in pursuing careers in the highly competitive spectrum of biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences by providing mentorship and professional development programs. This highlights the advantages as well as challenges of diverse research within the mentor and mentee’s relationship. Mentorship is directly related to the enhancement of the mentee’s productivity and career progress, and in some cases, it serves as an important indicator of a researcher’s success in training. The varying roles and responsibilities attributed to the research mentorship depend on many different factors, for instance, the particular field, the kind of expectations, nature of the relationship, and qualification capacity. Yet, there are some certain elements that serve as accountability barometers for the credibility of an individual mentor, such as commitment and sincerity.
Mentorship is critical for the researchers to progress in academia. The onus of scientific research training and career development of mentees is on the mentor. The National Institute of Health (NIH) offers the whole award program dedicated mentorship opportunities. The career development or K award, bags relatively more assigned mentors than any other grant program because it is a transitioning award that provides financial support as well as mentoring training to physician-scientists and potential biomedical investigators until they are qualified to pursue an independent research career. Every year there is a great tooth and nail fight among junior investigators aiming for career independence transition to secure the grant funding support and training opportunity. (Ripley, Markowitz, Casebolt, Williams and Macrina, 2012)
Advantages and Disadvantages of Mentor Based Research
- Committed mentors groom a mentee’s capabilities by encouraging his or her ideas.
- Mentors take equal responsibility with a mentee for any setback or failure.
- The Mentor’s respect and acknowledgment of the hard work encourage the mentee to contribute further input.
- With the mentor consistently challenging the abilities of the mentee, their knowledge horizon is enhanced and expanded.
- Sincere mentors are fair in their criticism and honest in the feedback of the mentee’s work, the camaraderie serves constructively in error rectification.
- If the mentor-mentee relationship is strained, which happens when each was assigned by the third person to others, it becomes counterproductive and demotivates the mentee who is already in the early stage of career.
- The mentoring relationship is meant to address the career-related needs of the mentee alone, but domineering and intimidating mentors impose their vision on the mentee’s dream and ruin the cordial relationship.
- In cases of mentor idolization, mentees often abstain from utilizing their critical thinking ability.
- If the balance of the mentor-mentee relationship is titled more toward mentor due to the known expertise in the field, mentees shy away from their responsibility of being proactive during the entire process.
- If the partnership is failing to achieve the required coordination necessary to accomplish the pre-set objective, frustration prevails on both sides with leads to delayed progress.
If you want to decide upon the path between institution-based research and mentor-based research, you must carefully examine the viability of each option and judge its suitability. Indeed, with a mentor by your side, you are in a privileged position of having regular lengthy discussions with an expert of your chosen area of interest in support of your person and your research. You enjoy access to one of the finest opportunities in terms of constructive criticism, motivation, and instruction in methodology and potential and receive a tremendous expansion of highly specialized knowledge and a variety of perspectives.
On the other hand, you get to form professional as well as personal relationships in that you find the assistance of all manner, including funding and professional guidance and support from the mentor. In the field of STEMM, institutions offer rigorously efficient research units that merge and provide tools to construct complex research procedures and stable financial assistance, which in turn facilitates groundbreaking research production.
Quintessentially, the activity of research plays a crucial role in the welfare and the development of societies. It requires a great deal of public, governmental, and private attention as well as financial and moral support so that more and more young scientists can conduct groundbreaking research to benefit mankind.
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- Casebolt, A.N., Macrina, F., Markowitz, M., Ripley, E., & Williams, L. (2012, August 7). Training NIH K award Recipients: The Role of the Mentor. Clin Transl Sci, 5(5), 386-393. https://doi.org/1111/j.1752-8062.2012.00436.x
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