Pilot mentoring programme for Managing Editors: Results
In 2007, a working group of Managing Editors (MEs) successfully applied for a Cochrane Opportunities Fund grant to develop standardised induction documents and a face-to-face mentoring programme for new MEs. It had previously been identified that the lack of such a system, together with the dispersed locations of many new MEs, created a sense of uncertainty, frustration and isolation, and contributed to diverse and inconsistent editorial practices amongst Review Groups.
ME Mentors during the pilot programme: Kate Cahill, June Cody, Vicki Pennick and Narelle Willis
What the working group did: Documentation
With the input of other MEs, we developed a generic ME position description (now in the Cochrane Policy Manual), and prepared or updated resources such as Signposts (available on cochrane.org and in Archie) and the welcome letters the Secretariat sends to new MEs and Assistant MEs.
Pilot mentoring programme
MEs selected four experienced MEs to become regional mentors: Kate Cahill and June Cody (UK and continental Europe); Vicki Pennick (North, Central and South America); and Narelle Willis (Australasia), along the lines of the IMS Support model (see photos above). Mentors met with the new ME (alongside a meeting arranged with their IMS Support person) within their first month in the role, and were available (via email and phone) after the visit to provide ongoing support and advice. We developed documentation to support the programme including training guidelines a checklist, a needs assessment form, and questionnaires to measure its effects. We examined the experiences of five mentor/mentee pairs during 2008 and 2009. Funding was provided for the mentors' travel and accommodation [an average of £232 (range: £91 to £402) per visit].
MEs found the mentoring sessions helpful and felt they could contact their mentor afterwards. None of the mentors found the role burdensome. An example of the positive feedback was this comment from one new ME: “For me, the level of support I have received has been just right. I feel I can contact my mentor on an ongoing basis.”
The resounding view of mentors and mentees was that the programme should continue, using the same regional model as the IMS Support programme, on a reimbursement per visit basis. It is an inexpensive and flexible resource, which is regionalised and can be conducted in a day. Consistent training of mentors and hence of mentees will facilitate the smooth functioning of editorial offices and improve the quality of editorial processes and reviews.
Results of this pilot were reported at the MEs' meeting, presented in a poster and submitted in a full report to the Steering Group during the Singapore Colloquium. The report is also available in the MEs’ Forum folder in Archie. While the report remains with the Steering Group at present, we are happy to share our findings with the Co-ordinating Editors and Trials search Co-ordinators who have voiced an interest in mounting their own mentoring program.
Megan Prictor, Consumers and Communication Group
Jane Cracknell, Anaesthesia Group
Vicki Pennick, Back Group
Jessica Thomas, Pain, Palliative and Supportive Care Group
Managing Editors' Working Group