Abstract for: A Tale of Two Mentees: Conceptualizing Academic Mentorship through System Thinking

Academic mentorship is a vital step in preparing the next generation of scholars and practitioners, yet little information exists on what successful mentorship looks like or the processes which lead to success. Academic mentorship enhances the quality of teaching and research, supports professional development, increases productivity, and ensures mutual success for both mentor and mentee. However the process by which one ascertains a mentor, builds and maintains mentoring relationships, and achieves success in doctoral programs is unclear. Systems thinking, specifically causal loop diagrams are used here to conceptualize the pursuit, maintenance, and utilization of academic mentorship within doctoral education. The purpose of this manuscript is to 1) describe the seminal literature on academic mentorship, 2) conceptualize exemplar cases of academic mentorship for doctoral education, 3) center the perspectives of doctoral students and their experiences of mentorship within the academy, 4) use a system-thinking lens to map and visualize the important variables related to mentorship processes, and 5) hypothesize potential levers for successful mentorship within doctoral programs. The triangulation of seminal academic mentorship literature, lived experiences, and consultation resulted in the development of two causal loop diagrams exemplifying common mentorship paradigms.