Success in achieving a PhD depends upon a close and effective working relationship with one’s advisor and mentor. And yet, while virtually every doctoral student has a research advisor, survey data from the PhD Completion Project and other studies show that not every student has access in their doctoral program to someone they consider a mentor.
Though mentoring is often cited as among the most influential factors on degree completion, that influence is difficult to assess. Student differences in cultural background and field, or discipline, may result in differing perceptions of effective mentoring. For some students, the mentoring that is valued most may be guidance on dissertation research; for others, it may be advice about how to navigate a career path after completing the degree; and for others, it may mean providing support and counsel when students are experiencing tough times, including such common obstacles as writer’s block, complications in the relationship with one’s research advisor or committee, or discouraging experiences on an academic job market.