One of the most important measures introduced in KSOP has been the mentoring by postdoctoral or younger staff scientists. Once every semester each doctoral researcher meets with his mentor in a formalized confidential meeting which is documented with minutes. The purpose of these meetings is to define useful training measures and project milestones for the upcoming semester. In addition, any personal problems within the Ph.D. project are discussed. The KSOP learned that the relation of trust established in these meetings helps to find a practical solution already at an early stage of a problematic development.
It is particularly useful that the KSOP mentors are not members of the same research groups and thus are considered unbiased in their opinion. Even more, the sheer availability of mentors helps – any KSOP doctoral researcher knows that immediate assistance is available if needed. In addition, the mentors support networking by organizing the joint KSOP Ph.D. seminars. They also coach the respective presentations given by the doctoral researchers to their peers during these seminars. It is essential that the doctoral researchers develop a relation of trust with their mentors. Therefore, they should preferentially be supported along their entire Ph.D. thesis by the same mentor. Thus, our mentors are chosen from the group of Junior Research Group Leaders and staff scientists.