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Read the Introduction Chapter: What’s Racism Got To Do With It? Black Women & Girls, Sexual Abuse, & Liberation
For Current Students
This document was adapted and expanded upon from that of my graduate advisor, Dr. Jennifer J. Freyd.
“Being overworked isn’t a virtue or work ethic to be admired.” –Sneha Krishnan
“You get good at what you practice, so be careful what you are practicing.”–Dr. Koritha Mitchell
- Introduction to JG
- Things I Strive to be as a Mentor & Advisor
- Things I Strive to do as a Mentor & Advisor
- What Are My Expectations for Students Who Are Working with Me?
- HOPE Lab Dynamics
- My Advice for Students
- Mandatory Reporting
Introduction to JG
I, Dr. Jennifer M. Gómez (JG), am an Assistant Professor at Boston University (BU) School of Social Work, Clinical Practice Department, and Faculty Affiliate at BU’s Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health.
As faculty, my job responsibilities include:
- Research (e.g., research design; grant writing; data collection and analysis; manuscript writing; giving talks in the U.S. and abroad; and engaging in public scholarship)
- Teaching graduate courses
- Advising and mentoring post-bacs, graduate students, and postdocs at multiple universities
- Service (field service, including serving on journal Editorial Boards, association task forces, etc.; school and university committees, including students’ master’s and dissertation committees)
- Running my research laboratory
- Developing professional relationships with community agencies and contributing to their respective missions
- Generally, specifically, and consistently working towards social justice and equity for all
- Being a happy lady in all facets of my personal and professional life
I truly love all of the different responsibilities I have, though one of my favorite things to do is mentor and advise students because:
- Students inspire me and give me hope for the field, academia, the world, and humanity
- I am committed to paying forward the wonderful mentorship I have received in my 10 years as a student in higher education, including from Professor Jaye van Kirk, Dr. Audrey Hokoda, Dr. Emilio Ulloa, Dr. Jennifer Freyd, and many others.
Being available to my own graduate students, as well as students across the School, is a top priority for me. As advising and mentoring students is not my only responsibility, however, I have put together this page to share expectations. Students are responsible for knowing and understanding the content of this page, and asking questions/seeking clarification, etc., when needed.
See the Teaching, Advising, & Mentoring subsection of the About section of my website for representative feedback from students.
See the Gómez HOPE Lab Professional Development Series and the Gómez Social Justice & Institutional Change Collection for additional resources (as well as further insight into my efforts, *smile*).
Things I Strive to be as a Mentor and Advisor
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine (NASEM) Consensus Study Report: The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM (2019).
- Safe (to bring up concerns and uncomfortable topics, including issues students are having with their course work, clinical work, research, myself, etc.)
Things I Strive to do as a Mentor and Advisor
- Provide critical feedback
- Be receptive to feedback
- Have a forward gaze (paying attention to where you want to be and what you will need to get there)
- Relay and provide opportunities for professional growth
- Provide guidance
Follow Up: Why do I like to give critical feedback?
- We are in service of the populations we serve, as researchers, teachers, and clinicians; therefore, our work should be the best it can be
- I believe you can do your best
- I believe your best will keep improving over time
- I believe in you as a thinker, scholar, and person
- I am invested in helping you develop and grow
From Dr. Shanique G. Brown & JG, published in the Conditionally Accepted Blog in Inside Higher Ed: “Do not mistake our kindness for leniency. Being kind and having high expectations are not mutually exclusive—we can and do have both. Though we may be caring and courteous, we also have high expectations of our students. Please don’t be surprised if our exams are difficult, our courses are demanding and our research projects are hard. The supportive environments we co-create with students also involve accountability mechanisms for your work and critical feedback to support your learning. It serves you to appreciate the high expectations we have of you, as they exist because we believe in your ability to learn and grow from student to professional.”
Note: I have crafted my working style for years–from my ballet career onwards. Therefore, I understand that my approach will not be optimal for every student. Because I know I cannot fundamentally alter my style for each student, I do my best to collaborate with students for their benefit, while encouraging students to develop a mentorship network that will best suit their professional and personal development.
What Are My Expectations for Students Who Are Working with Me?
For my graduate students in particular—but also for any graduate students who have a working relationship with me (e.g., mentorship committee; letter of recommendation writer, etc.): it is very important for you to respond to a question, query, or message I send in a timely manner.
For my graduate students, that means responding to me within 24 hours on business days (Monday – Friday, excluding holidays). If I ask you a question you do not know the answer to, respond that you do not know. If I send you resources or information, respond with a simple “Got it!” or “Thank you!”, etc. Please refrain from not responding at all. If you will be out of communication for any reason, it is your responsibility to let me know once you know, remind me just before you leave, and set up an automatic away message on your university email.
Though the advisor/advisee and mentor/mentee relationships are asymmetric due to our differences in roles and power, it is still a two-way relationship. Your advisor/mentor (that is me, JG!) is not only here to serve your needs and yours alone. It is expected that you will actively engage in fostering a healthy, communicative relationship. This means being responsive as detailed above, being respectful, coming to meetings on time and prepared (more on that below), asking questions when you have them, and keeping me updated on your progress in your classes, your clinical work, your research, etc.
Why is open communication so important to me?
For us to foster a healthy mentorship/advising relationship.
Important: If I don’t know, I can’t help!
If you are having problems, confusion, etc., I cannot provide guidance if I do not know about it. It is always your choice as to what and how much to disclose to me (e.g., I will not demand that you tell me secrets you don’t want me to know!). However, an open, responsible, responsive, communicative relationship will mean that you are able to assert your needs, and I will be able to do my best to help guide and support you.
Tip: If there’s something going on in your personal life that you do not feel comfortable sharing, you could say, “I am going through something right now personally. I don’t want or need to talk about the details of it. But I wanted to let you know that I may be a bit distracted and slower on doing work while I’m dealing with it.”
Getting a Response from JG
Email is often the quickest way to get a hold of me, as I tend to answer emails quickly. For my graduate students, I aim to respond to emails within 24 hours on business days. If I am going to be out of communication for any reason, I will let my students know and will have an away message up on my university email.
If you want a response or feedback on a document that is longer than about a page, please give me both a hard copy and an electronic version (more on this below).
In addition to lab meetings, I will meet with my graduate students regularly. Other School graduate students are welcome to contact me to set up a time to meet for drop-in or more regular meetings. I will do my best to accommodate these requests as my schedule permits. Meetings can take place in my office, my lab, taking a walk, or virtually. All students are responsible for keeping track of what is discussed in our meetings—including deadlines, topics to follow up on, etc.
Coming to Meetings On Time & Prepared
In preparation to meet with me (outside of office hours), students should:
- Email me the morning-of to confirm the meeting; without such confirmation, I will consider the meeting canceled (this is to avoid the time wasted waiting for no-shows)
- Have a plan of what will be discussed
- Be prepared (e.g., if a first meeting to discuss research, have reviewed my website: http://jmgomez.org ; have prepared questions, points of discussion, topics, etc.)
- Be on time; communicate if you will be running late
To have efficient meetings, it is incumbent on students to take ownership over their own knowledge and growth. Being prepared, having a plan, and having a clear sense of the goals of the meeting will make our time together: mutually beneficial; you will be more likely to get what you need from me and our meeting; and you will communicate respect of the time and expertise of your grad advisor/mentor (me!).
What to Do After Meetings
It is your responsibility to keep track of what is discussed in our meetings, what your follow up steps are, getting any answers or clarifications you need from me, doing the tasks detailed in the meeting, and preparing for the next meeting.
Scheduling Committee Meetings
When you need to schedule an advising, mentorship, thesis, or dissertation committee meeting for a semester, begin planning at the beginning of the semester. (Wrangling a bunch of busy faculty members can be time-consuming!). Please follow these steps to schedule:
- Write to JG with your available times
- JG writes back with overlapping available times
- THEN write the rest of the committee, cc-ing JG, with just the times that you and I are both available. I recommend using Doodle or another scheduling software for the last step
Papers, Documents, Forms, and Other Written Things
- GIVE ME BOTH a HARD COPY (not required during COVID-19 pandemic) and ELECTRONIC COPY of documents, presentations, etc.
- ALLOW ME 2 WEEKS to review whenever possible.
More detail: Providing me with both hard and electronic copies aids in me being able to provide feedback in a timely manner. As a general rule, do NOT wait until the last minute to send me something! It is quite possible that if you wait till the last minute, I will not be able to review the paper, write the letter of recommendation, approve the Abstract for submission, etc. I recommend giving me TWO WEEKS to review something. The reason is there will likely be times where multiple students need feedback from me simultaneously, in addition to my own deadlines. This is particularly true at crunch times (e.g., late Fall term, as Letter of Recommendation season).
Materials you send me to review should include contextual information so that I know what it is. For papers and manuscripts, this includes:
- A cover page with authorship, date, title/working title, word count, intended journal or outlet, any word limits, any deadlines
- Both hard and electronic copies
- Descriptive file name (e.g., instead of “master’s thesis”, “Last Name_Variables_Date_Initials of last person to edit”, so “Gómez_CBTT hallucinations_8.12.19_JG”)
- Page numbers throughout
Feedback on Papers, etc.
My goal is to get you feedback on manuscripts, presentations, etc., within 2 weeks of you giving it to me. (Note: potential university exceptions to theses and dissertations).
Letters of Recommendation
For letters of recommendation, I usually will need:
- 4 weeks notice (but: best to tell me as soon as you know)
- Materials, such as copy of the application essay, description of the award
- How to submit (e.g., online system with link; email address, etc.).
- *For many submissions (e.g., graduate school applications), create a Table with name of university, program, deadline, and instructions for submission
- A document describing highlights of your fanciness and our relationship (e.g., been an RA for 1 year; this GPA; you saw me give this talk for X conference, etc.). See Dr. Arianna Long’s Twitter thread for a strategy on doing this.
- Your CV
If you discover that you are not going to be able to get me something to review 2 weeks of a deadline–or 4 week for letters of rec, let me know as soon as possible. Note: even for big events (a conference, a thesis, a dissertation, a manuscript for a special issue), you are responsible for keeping yourself and me accountable for deadlines. Meaning, do not assume that if I have not received a document that needs review that I am calculating the accelerated turn-around time—not for lack of caring, but for juggling my own + my students’ deadlines.
HOPE Lab Dynamics
This is a Living Guide on Structure, Expectations, and Norms for Members of the HOPE Lab
Current version created by Principal Investigator (PI) Jennifer M. Gómez, Ph.D. (JG), 15 June 2020, and last updated 1 December 2022
PI (JG) Responsibilities
So much of the HOPE Lab is “we” and “our” (aka, “we do research in our lab”)–with me (JG) supporting, bolstering, guiding, and collaborating with students.
Simultaneously, I (JG) am the PI: I am not peers with the student lab members, and I am ultimately most responsible for the research integrity of the work that comes out of the HOPE Lab.
As such, for all work that HOPE students do as lab members, I am doing work as well: co-creating/designing it, monitoring it, teaching the students, giving feedback, picking up the slack when students fall behind, etc.
Importantly, research is a lot of work. Students are not always privy to all I, as PI, am responsible for: prior intellectual property and work (e.g., I may have begun research design far before students’ involvement), participant-protection, research integrity, students’ learning and professional development, and more. Therefore, it is important for students to be deliberate in showing me respect as the PI—and to proactively guard against discriminatory frames that would conceptualize and treat me, a Black woman professor, as a peer or subordinate.
JG PI: Tier System
- Tier 1: All members help on Research Design (for sub-studies), IRB, Data Collection, and Open Science Framework when applicable
- Tier 2: Sub-groups work on studies
(e.g., JG, Student A, & Student B for Study 1; JG, Student C, Student D for Study 2, etc.); official collaborators and authors come from Tier 2–see Authorship sub-section below
- Work time spent in lab, in research tasks, with JG, and with Senior/more research-experienced HOPEs in order to learn. Ballet Example: Level 4 ballet students would take ballet class with Level 5+ students to learn by example from the more advanced dancers
- HOPEs learn as much information as possible from every step of the research process (theorizing–>data collection preparation–>data analysis–>manuscripts/presentations). JG Example: in graduate school, I learned from Freyd’s betrayal trauma theory (e.g., Gómez, Kaehler, & Freyd, 2014), which provided my theoretical and methodological foundation for CBTT.
- As research team members, HOPEs develop the skills to lead their own research project (most likely in collaboration with JG).
Importantly: Rarely are students able to begin with #3. As HOPEs, students–supported by JG and the lab–are working to bridge the gap between where they are as students and where they want to be as researchers. #’s 1-2 are not hazing or grunt work, but rather necessary skill-building in both process (e.g., how do I continue on when I’m overwhelmed, intimidated, and frustrated??) and outcome (e.g., beautiful data collection complete).
Tip: To make the most out of #’s 1-3 in the Apprentice Model to further HOPEs’ own professional development and fulfillment:
- familiarize yourself with current data collection(s), measures, research projects, etc.
- identify constructs from #1 that you may want to use (e.g., interested in dissociation? review current HOPE Lab research for what data sets we have with dissociation measures)
- conduct literature searches that result in an annotated bibliography about the constructs of interest (e.g., articles on child sexual abuse-related dissociation in adulthood)
- develop working research questions and hypotheses from #1 and share with JG in 1on1 meetings
HOPE Lab Mindsets
“Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Forward“–Will Smith
NO: Fixed Mindset: Thought: “I’m good at X or not”–>”I have to prove I already know how to do X”–>”I won’t ask for help”–>”I will be defensive when receiving feedback”–>Challenge is a threat
YES: Growth Mindset: “I am not good at X….yet”–>”I can be good at X, so I will work hard”–>”I utilize feedback because it will help me become good at X”–>Challenge is an opportunity
Why does Mindset matter?
- It affects how you psychologically and emotionally experience yourself and the work
- It affects how you show up in the space, including how much or how little you’re able to contribute and gain AND how you treat other people
Take Away Message: “The fallacy of ‘Mastery’ is fool’s gold: irrelevant and uninteresting. Knowing how to continue to learn pays dividends for yourself, the work, and the impact of both on the world.” JG, 30 May 2021
- Start of Year HOPE Planning Mtg, including yearly goals, semester goals, monthly goals, weekly goals
- Start of Year 1on1 Research Program Mtg, including refining research trajectory, interests, etc.
- HOPE student-led/student-only regular working group mtgs (~weekly)
- HOPE parallel working group mtg (~monthly)
As HOPE student lab members, one of your greatest resources is each other. I encourage you to reach out to each other, regularly meet, become friends, co-create a shared support system, lean on each other, and be there for each other. You all are in this together.
- Includes information provided in the Current Students section of my website
- Attend and actively participate in all HOPE Lab mtgs
- Schedule and attend Tier 2 Sub-Group Meetings, as necessary
- Present research at HOPE lab mtg(s)
- Research Goal: Conference Presentations
- Research Goal: Manuscript Publications
- Provide Short Bio & Pic for website
- Note: If you have safety or privacy concerns re your photo, affiliation, etc. being shared on website, please discuss with JG. Discussion can include, “I am not comfortable having my photo up on the website.” It is not required that you disclose reasons for your discomfort. Saying that you are not comfortable with it is enough.
- Includes information provided in the JG Current Students section of website.
- Strong ego (<–meaning, opposite of a fragile ego that is crushed by constructive feedback)
- Intellectually Curious
- Relationally Healthy
- Wants to contribute to a healthy, supportive, collegial, and collaborative lab environment
- Operate with Scientific Integrity
- Note: Up-to-date CITI training is the “floor”; we want scientific integrity to the “ceiling”
- Demonstrate a strong work ethic (note: nothing can replace the value of hard work)
- Responsive (see Being Responsible/Responsive section, under Current Students section of my website)
- Communicate concerns with PI, as necessary/relevant
- Communicate concerns with other HOPE lab members, as necessary/relevant
- Communicate with respect to JG as human and PI
- Communicate with respect to all lab members as humans and peers/colleagues
- Be willing and excited to learn
- Be responsive to feedback (e.g., avoid being defensive or punishing when receiving critical feedback)
- Follow through with tasks that are assigned to you
- Be prepared (e.g., use the resources at your disposal, such as previous lab handouts, Current Students section, etc. to tackle new tasks)
- ABL: Always Be Learning
- Ask for help when you need it–from PI, from other HOPEs
- Ask for clarification of purposes of tasks when you need it–from PI, from other HOPEs
- Own up to mistakes
- Correct mistakes
- Talk early and as often as necessary on roles and authorship
- Note: Authorship may change over the course of working on a project, but the goal is that nothing is a surprise, everyone is on the same page, and roles, responsibilities, and authorship is clear and fair
- Frame research through inequality lens (e.g., sexist violence, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc.)
- Be mindful of and grapple with issues of power
- Note: This includes JG to students, senior students to junior students, senior lab members to junior lab members, graduate students to post-bacs, and societal power (e.g., due to systemic inequality, which can complicate academic power structures)
- Do not abuse power (<–this requires proactive effort)
- Co-create healthy, supportive, collegial, collaborative lab environment
Lab meeting attendance is expected of my graduate students. These lab meetings are good times to get me to sign forms or ask me quick questions. When you are scheduled to make a presentation at the lab meeting, it is important for you to work with me in developing the presentation. This includes discussing the topic to present, sending me powerpoint slides and/or handouts to review, etc. For us to have time to review and revise content, such material should be to me at least 2 weeks before you are scheduled to present.
On all presentations and handouts should be your name, as well as the name of all collaborators, acknowledgements to those who have provided help or feedback, the date, and usually a disclaimer that explains that the information is preliminary and should not be cited or shared beyond the lab meeting.
One last tip: It is important to openly acknowledge collaborative work (as most research is collaborative). When discussing such research, always use the plural rather than singular (“our study” vs. “my study”, etc.). If in doubt, ask me and/or err on the side of sharing credit.
How to Communicate Concerns and/or Address Conflict in the HOPE Lab
Concerns and conflicts are inevitable, and even healthy, on teams. Importantly, concerns and conflicts do not have to be toxic or unnecessarily hurtful, combative, or aggressive.
Taken from JG’s colleague, developmental psychologist, data scientist, and data ethicist, Dr. Jacob Levernier, here are tips on what to do/not to do when addressing concerns and conflicts in the HOPE lab–including concerns and conflicts you have with JG.
“I’m concerned that _____. Please cure your defective performance and fix this by doing _____. [Or corrective action will be taken].”
A Cure Notice is taken from construction. Boss tells construction workers that X building has a defect, so fix it now or I, as Boss, will take action against you.
Why isn’t this ideal for communicating concerns and/or addressing conflict?
- It lacks humility—aka, presumes the concerned party knows all information and full scope of the issue, while simultaneously being the only one who knows the solution
- It takes a power-over, as opposed to collaborative, approach to problem-solving
- It increases the likelihood of defensiveness
- It decreases the likelihood of the issue being amicably and collegially resolved
- It can interfere with the healthy lab environment, even after the issue has been resolved
Do This Instead
“I’m concerned that _____. Could we talk through that concern and try to find a way to address it?”
Why is this a better approach to communicating concerns and/or addressing conflict?
- It communicates an understanding of the complexity of a given issue—including that there could be multiple facets that are unknown to the concerned party, as well as multiple ways to address it moving forward
- It takes a power-with (collaborative) approach
- It explicitly places everyone on the same side: Now, we all have the same goal of addressing the concern/conflict together
- It decreases the likelihood of defensiveness and combativeness
- It increases the likelihood of the issue being resolved without toxicity, unnecessary hurt feelings, etc.
- It’s a Team-Builder: We are each responsible for contributing to the culture and climate of the team, so relevant parties work together to resolve issues as they arise
Relatedly: Things to Keep In Mind When Giving Feedback
- Provide: Oftentimes, disgruntled voices are the ones most often shared. Be deliberate about providing positive (this was great!) and neutral (this was okay) feedback, along with negative/constructive feedback.
- Take Seriously: Your feedback will inform how I conduct my lab, classes, interactions with students, etc. in the future. Thus, your feedback can positively benefit my work and consequently, future students’ experiences.
- Behave Fairly and Equitably: From research, we know that due to bias, women across races and faculty of color across genders get worse evaluations (even in experimental designs where the only difference is the gender and race of the instructor!). Please be cognizant of these tendencies while providing feedback.
- Be Well-Rounded: In any feedback, providing both positive and critical feedback is important. The positive feedback provides me information on good things to continue and do more of. The critical feedback lets me know of things I can change.
- Be Respectful: I am a person who takes seriously the feedback I receive. A respectful tone is not only great practice for you–even when detailing things you do not like–but also shows respect for me as your professor and fellow human.
Defining the Roles of Authors and Contributors (aka, authorship) is guided by the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (2018):
- Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
- Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
- Final approval of the version to be published; AND
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
More About Authorship in the HOPE Lab
In line with the above recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (2018), being involved in the original data collection and/or being a lab member during others’ research design and development process does not guarantee authorship on any subsequent studies; all four of the above criteria must be met to warrant authorship. Thus, opportunity for authorship on subsequent studies is not automatically granted to all those who contributed to data collection or research design (e.g., adding X measure on the large data collection, when in this particular manuscript, only A, B, C measures are used). Readiness for authorship will be determined based on many factors, including students’ skill level (from research acumen to quality of work to work ethic, communication, and follow-through). Students should discuss their authorship goals generally and specifically on given projects early and as often as necessary with JG.
With Tier 1 research not guaranteeing authorship, student authors generally stem from Tier 2 research in the HOPE Lab (see HOPE Lab Dynamics sub-section of Current Students).
Furthermore, authorship on paper or poster presentations does not guarantee authorship on subsequent manuscripts. Paper and poster presentations offer opportunities for students to learn, contribute, and demonstrate readiness for additional work, while furthering students’ professional development and profile in the field. Manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals (articles) and books (book chapters) require additional work in line with the current sections’ authorship stipulations.
Finally, as PI of the HOPE Lab, I (JG) myself am not guaranteed authorship on manuscripts coming from the HOPE Lab. Securing the funding and/or the data set for the manuscript does not guarantee me authorship (though it would warrant an Acknowledgement on publications–see below). I (JG) must also contribute substantive work in line with the current sections’ authorship stipulations to warrant authorship.
Example: Dr. Lars Johnson and I completed the Cultural Betrayal Multidimensional Inventory for Black American Young Adults (CBMI-BAYA) validation study (preprint) . Anyone can then use the CBMI-BAYA, citing us. Dr. Johnson and I do not get automatic authorship on other researchers’ manuscripts because they use our inventory. Authors who use the CBMI-BAYA have to cite us to both give us due credit and to not plagiarize us. However, authorship is not automatically granted to us because our inventory is used in others’ studies.
Unlike authorship, criteria for Acknowledgements are less stringent. We acknowledge everyone who contributed to the study/ies in the manuscript in a way that doesn’t warrant authorship but does merit gratitude and public recognition (e.g., involved in data collection; provided data set).
HOPE Conferences, Talks, Lab Members’ Presentations
HOPE lab members are expected to attend and be engaged for HOPE lab members’ talks and presentations, including at conferences, virtual locations, departmental requirements, across campus, and in the community, when possible.
- Conferences: HOPE lab members should attend HOPE invited/plenary talks, paper presentations, symposia, and poster presentations at conferences they are participating in
- Virtual Presentations: HOPE lab members should attend HOPE virtual plenary/invited talks, paper presentations, symposia, and poster presentations that are held virtually
- Departmental Requirements: HOPE lab members should attend HOPE students’ thesis and dissertation defenses, departmental colloquia, etc.
- Across campus: HOPE lab members should attend HOPE talks given on campus
- Community: HOPE lab members should make efforts to attend HOPE talks given in the community when possible.
- If you are unable to attend (e.g., sickness, out of town, conflict with class, clinical, or work schedule, parenting responsibilities, etc.), let JG and the presenter(s) know ahead of time
- HOPE talks outside of regular business hours are optional
- If you have a concern about attending a HOPE presentation (e.g., you are having a conflict with the presenter), let JG know.
My Advice for Students
“Perhaps the primary graduate school lesson: understanding how to be professionally good at being bad at things = gaining much patience and organization about being wrong…and learning.”–Dr. Jacob Levernier
- Learn how you learn. Instead of assuming you’re bad at X (e.g., writing, statistics, etc.), assume that you can do it: you just have to take the time to discover how you will be able to learn it. There are many different ways to accomplish your goals– e.g., organization strategies, writing groups, internalized incentives, accountability groups, writing, re-writing, and color-coding notes, explaining the material to others, annotated bibliographies, writing-is-revising, etc. Do not give up on yourself when something new seems impossible. Keep learning and re-learning how you learn.
- Advice For How Grad and Undergrad Students Should Interact with BIPOC Professors (Brown & Gómez, 2022): greet us with respect; treat us equally; have realistic–and fair–expectations of us; respect our boundaries; be thoughtful when addressing conflict with us; be intentional when meeting with us; create a mentorship network; do not mistake our kindness for leniency; guard against perpetuating bias in teaching evaluations; use today as preparation for tomorrow
- Learn from what is modeled. As a ballet dancer, so much of what I learned was from watching others: “What technique are they using in that pirouette? How are they learning all this choreography? What is their preparation before a performance? How are they warming up?” Pay close attention to those more senior, more experienced, and/or more successful at something than you: What is their process for writing? How do they organize their time? How do they remain so motivated? etc. You can learn from them, trying their strategies on for size and adapting them to make them work for you.
- Learn from others’ mistakes. You don’t have to make every mistake yourself. You can learn from how a professor mis-manages their time, a peer is perpetually putting themself down, a teacher speaks in ways that shut down students’ participation, etc. You can gain wisdom from what others do wrong by using their mistakes as an opportunity to check in on how you yourself are managing your time, treating yourself, speaking to students, etc.
- Don’t get stuck on “what I did wrong”, but transition to “how do I take in the feedback, make changes, and do better.”
- Don’t let your ego get in the way of your progress and/or the good of the work. Ego comes in two flavors: arrogance and insecurity. Arrogance can make it so you are unable to receive critical feedback, re-think your work, make necessary revisions, etc. cos you appraise yourself and your work as higher and better than that of all others. On the other hand, toxic insecurity can lead you to not solicit feedback, not share your work, not meaningfully receive and incorporate feedback, etc. in ways that inhibit your own progression, while limiting just how good your work can be. Strive to appraise yourself and your work accurately–as neither unparalleled genius nor deprave idiocy, but rather somewhere in between– understanding that you and your work will continue to grow for as long as you work honestly towards such growth, without tripping over your own arrogance or insecurity. See JG’s “Cultural Betrayal & ‘Conundrums’: The Making of a Book” January 2022 event at the Boston University School of Social Work Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series for an example on soliciting feedback for the good of the work.
- Make it easy, and even rewarding, to give you feedback. Students who are defensive, attacking, and/or generally punishing when receiving critical feedback make it harder for PIs, teachers, supervisors, advisors, mentors, etc. to provide such feedback. Remember, feedback, including critical feedback, is crucial for your development. Make it easy to give to you!
- Advisor/Advisee, Mentor/Mentee, & Supervisor/Supervisee relationships are two-way streets. Remember that you contribute substantially to the success, effectiveness, and learning you receive from advisors, mentors, and supervisors. Come prepared to meetings, follow up when needed, adhere to deadlines (and communicate when you will not be able to), be responsible/responsive (see above sub-section in Current Students), “manage up“, etc.
- Use 1on1 meetings with graduate advisors, instructors, clinical supervisors, etc. meaningfully. Direct the agenda (e.g., your goals for the meeting, what information you need, what you need from the other person, such as soliciting feedback, asking questions, getting clarifications on assignments, etc.) and have a shared understanding of the reason for meeting (e.g., meetings should be useful for you, should cover content that could not be covered just as well via email–should be more than giving updates and/or only sharing good news, etc.)
- Be organized and efficient. The better you are at managing your time, the more cool stuff you get to do!
- Have internal deadlines in advance of external deadlines. When you plan to have tasks, drafts, presentation practice, etc. done in advance, it provides you with wiggle room when life happens (e.g., family tragedy, sickness, etc.)–thus allowing you to still be ahead of the game (or at least on the game) and not behind.
- Writing is revising. Create an outline, flesh out the outline w/details, write, & revise ad nauseam = lots of pre-writing via outlining–>write poorly–>revise over & again = no pretty writing expected from the start = Enjoyment. No pressure. Just a process of sharing cool stuff via the written word.
- If you don’t know something, think, utilize resources (e.g., JG Current Students section), and then ask, if needed.
- If you are scared that you’re bad at something, seek it out: e.g., If you’re scared of public speaking, don’t spend 5 years avoiding public speaking. Take the opportunity to practice, grow, and learn.
- Reject the ‘banking’ concept of education. Take ownership over your own learning, professional development, and advancement.
- Come prepared.
- Take notes. Take notes and write questions down during meetings, talks, classes, etc. This helps you stay engaged and on track, be prepared to speak, and “have a conversation with yourself” even in situations where you aren’t able to share your thoughts (e.g., large plenary talk).
- Behave as if you believe in yourself, even when you don’t: e.g., keep trying as if it’s possible that you could be successful.
- Avoid behaviors that can communicate a lack of respect for others’ time: e.g., ‘I didn’t review your website or read any of your published work, but can you tell me about your research?’
- Do not mistake kindness for weakness….or leniency. A supportive environment is not synonymous with a lackadaisical one (generally, and certainly true of the HOPE Lab and JG classes!).
- Create a schedule that matches your goals and priorities. Divide your priorities up like a pie (e.g., 50% slice for research development, 30% clinical work, 20% teaching), then create your work schedule that matches your time by those priorities (e.g., 50% of time spent on research, 30% of time spent in clinical work activities/preparation/learning, 20% of time in teaching activities/preparation/learning).
- Create an internally motivated incentive structure for yourself. Research, along with so much of what is done as an academic and clinician, does not have the same external incentive structure that students are accustomed to (e.g., exams, grades). Nevertheless, such research and professional-building work are what propels you into careers that similarly do not have classes and other immediate external incentive structures. Be deliberate about fostering your own internally motivated system (e.g., internal deadlines, rewards, etc.)
- Reward yourself for the process, not only the outcome. Wins, such as receiving fellowships, getting publications, and being hired, are outcomes that are not fully in our control. While stacking the deck for success (e.g., producing the best manuscript you can), actively celebrate your work as Wins (‘I worked so hard and submitted the best Fellowship application I could!’). This provides you with Wins along the way that are distinct from outcomes that you cannot control, while keeping motivation and joy in the work high.
- The graduate advisor/advisee, mentor/mentee is an important and special professional relationship. Devote the time and effort to it that it deserves.
- A quality graduate advisor/mentor/instructor is not your personal yes-person. A graduate advisor/mentor/instructor who tells you only positive feedback is not doing you any favors. Graduate advisors/mentors/instructors (like me!) who are invested in your success will take the time to provide critical feedback, tell you ‘no’ when you are not ready for an opportunity, etc. That is neither meant as mean-ness nor personal attacks, but rather is done to aid you in improving.
- Remember, your graduate advisor/mentor/instructor is not your peer. Do not confuse a supportive relationship with a casual one. Exercise appropriate boundaries in how you speak and behave with your graduate advisor/mentor. This can be especially important to be mindful of when you have societal privilege that your advisor does not (e.g., White male student, Black female graduate advisor/mentor/instructor).
- No one mentor, advisor, supervisor, or instructor can be everything you need: Get a mentorship network.
- Admit to yourself when you have made a mistake or series of mistakes.
- When not relationally unsafe, admit to others when you make a mistake or series of mistakes: e.g., Tell me!
- When not relationally unsafe, say you’re sorry when you’ve made a mistake or series of mistakes. Perfection is neither required nor possible. Making mistakes is an unavoidable part of working (and living). While an impulse may be to avoid addressing your mistake with your graduate advisor (and others) out of embarrassment, shame, etc., a simple ‘I’m sorry’ can work wonders in relaying your intent, repairing any relational rupture, and moving forward constructively.
- Be gracious when others apologize to you: Owning up to one’s mistakes is vulnerable. When a fellow student, peer, professor, graduate advisor, PI, or anyone apologizes to you, do your best to avoid giving a punishing response (aka, ‘you should be sorry cos you were so wrong!’). Instead, try something like: “Thank you. _______ [honest response, e.g., I was hurt/confused/upset by what happened]. I appreciate the apology.” What follows from the apology and your response will depend on the transgression, your current relationship with the person apologizing, and your desire, or lack thereof, for a future relationship with the person apologizing. Importantly, not everyone who apologizes is a person worthy of continuing a relationship with. Nevertheless, when safely possible, a gracious response when receiving an apology can help co-create an environment of accountability and healing.
- Prioritize your full self: You are more than a disembodied brain or servant to make the world better for everyone else.
- Work in a way that develops good, sustainable habits: If you don’t want to do all-nighters in your career, don’t do them now. Practice and learn how to work in a way that is sustainable for you + leads to success.
- Live in accordance with your values: If you want to be a socially-responsible, DEI, social justice-oriented professional, engage in such efforts now–through research, teaching, publications, clinical work, and service
- Avoid the perfectionism trap: A great way to get nothing done is to be so afraid of doing it wrong that you either don’t start it or don’t finish it. Spoiler alert: you will make mistakes. Don’t let that fact sabotage you, your progress, and your goals.
- Engage in Camaraderie vs. Competition: It is a net positive to have brilliant colleagues. They, with their sheer presence, push you to do better. There is also a bidirectional exchange of knowledge–what one knows, everyone can know. This is different than competition, which can lead to toxic, unproductive comparisons (“They’re so much better than me…”; or “I’m so much better than them!”). Foster camaraderie and avoid competition, understanding that each of us has strengths, each of us gets to take turns giving and learning, and there is room enough for each of us to shine.
- Say Thank You!: Faculty, supervisors, and staff do a LOT to help students. Often, we don’t know if our efforts are actually helpful. So: if faculty, supervisors, or staff (or a peer! or anyone!) has done something that has been useful to you (e.g., brought in a great speaker; given great guidance in a meeting, etc.), a simple Thank You is not only appreciated, but also helps the person tailor their efforts to you, thus resulting in doing more of the things that are helpful for you.
- Give credit where credit is due: In academia, women across races and people of Color across genders, on average, do an inordinate amount of mentorship, advising, and support for students; often, such work is unrecognized systemically. To combat this, formally recognize these faculty by asking them to be on formal committees, etc. Such formality matters for those faculty members’ tenure and promotion, etc.
- Use insight into the graduate advisor life: Graduate advisors/PIs/senior research collaborators are far busier than students know. That isn’t a bad life (I LOVE my job!), but it is a busy one. FYI: when a grad advisor says, “do X task Y way” and subsequently sends your work back to you when it does not conform to the criteria = is likely not meant to be overly critical or unnecessarily punishing. Instead, they are likely upholding their work system (while retaining high standards for you that will benefit your own work), so they can continue to be as efficient as possible–for themselves, you, and others.
- Avoid unnecessarily burning bridges: Sometimes, burning a bridge is inevitable or even the best of all options when harm or toxicity is present. However, many times burning a bridge is not the best choice. When professional relationships end or change, behave with grace and respect, avoiding lashing out or, conversely, preemptively withdrawing.
- Invest in fostering long-lasting professional relationships: Professional relationships and personal friendships in academia can be enduring, beneficial, supportive, and beautiful…even across time, changes in university affiliations, etc. Behave in ways that foster, protect, and contribute to these relationships being long-lasting (e.g., decades).
The issue of mandated reporting of campus sexual violence has received considerable attention for the greater part of a decade. There are varying views on the appropriateness of blanket mandated reporting (see Dr. Freyd’s website with compiled resources, my speech to the U.S. Department of Education 2021, my collaborative piece with graduate student M. Colleen McDaniel, my collaborative piece with project coordinator, Rebecca L. Howard Valdivia and graduate student, Allison Cipriano, and my own scholarly opinion piece that I wrote as a graduate student in 2016.).
Universities also have various interpretations of what Title IX federal legislation actually requires regarding reporting–which is currently potentially in transition (2021).
University’s interpretation (TB updated).
Evidence-based resources on how to respond to disclosure of abuse and maltreatment on Freyd’s Disclosure Listening Skills Home Page
- My professional website
- My Twitter, @JenniferMGmez1
- Gómez Social Justice & Institutional Change Collection (2022), with handouts on anti-Black racism, faculty strategies for structurally supporting students, literature on bias in tenure and promotion, questions to ask on tenure-track faculty positions at R1 university campus visits, tips for writing op-eds, and more
- Gómez HOPE Lab Professional Development Series (2022), with handouts on faculty negotiations, self-care and ethics in trauma/inequality research, publishing research that centralizes inequality, how to give engaging talks, study tips, and more
- Time Management for Researchers, Maya Gosztyla‘s article in Nature
- Understanding Structural & Institutional Racism FREE online course (Boston University School of Social Work–Belkin Martinez, Hamilton, & Toraif)
- Advice For How Grad and Undergrad Students Should Interact with BIPOC Professors (Brown & Gómez, 2022)
- External funding for graduate students and postdocs & early career professionals, including the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program
- Additional grad student resources on Dr. Jennifer Freyd’s website
- Dr. Nelson O. O. Zounlome’s The Thriving Academic Blog for BIPOC graduate students, post-docs, and other academics
- Dr. Zawadi Rucks-Ahidiana‘s Practical PhD: A Transparent Source for All Things PhD for undergraduate and graduate students
- Dr. Koritha Mitchell‘s Resources Related to Her Keynote for the 2021 Conference of Ford Foundation Fellows
- Additional advice on faculty-grad student interactions on Stanford University’s page
- Fig. 1 from Pensky et al., 2021: Disrupt and Demystify the Unwritten Rules of Graduate School (open access version). Hidden curriculum w/lecture slides, etc. by Zimmer et al., 2021
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