What to Do as a CERA Mentor
When talking with your author (or team):
- Go over reviewer comments and address them with author (or team)
- Find out what the author really wants to know. What is the point of their study? The hypotheses and survey questions often don’t match with what they really want to know
- Have author (or team) read the one-page article on hypotheses
- Let your author (or team) know about the contributions you can provide and your expectations for authorship.
- Keep in touch with them throughout the process, from acceptance to data collection, to data analysis and write up.
Your Job as Mentor
- To provide research guidance
If your team is research-naïve, please provide active guidance. Where are they likely to need the most help? This is where we have seen that authors need the most help:
- Formulating a hypothesis or research question. Those who have not done this before often “don’t get it” - that hypotheses need to be testable, typically addressing the association between two variables.
- Writing clear survey questions that address the hypothesis
- To keep author (or team) on a timeline
CERA wants teams to have a manuscript ready to submit within 90 days after receiving their data. (After 90 days, the data become public.) Teams can write their Intro and Methods while the survey is in the field, and set aside the 90 days to complete the manuscript. You can help by watching the timeline and nudge them.
- To analyze data
If they do not have a data analyst, and if you are not an analyst – please contact the CERA Mentor Director or your CERA Survey Director. CERA can find someone to help.
- To write for publication
You can be a full-on writer for the team, write pieces, or read and edit versions depending on what the author (or team) wants or needs. You have permission to be a pest about getting the paper completed on time! You should be included as author on their manuscripts and presentations. Share this one-pager on writing a journal article (PDF).
If your team is very experienced in research, they may not need a mentor per se, but you can still provide feedback regarding their hypotheses and survey questions. Your role might be proofreader and timeline-reminder. Please stay in touch with them about their progress.
Tips for Those Reviewing CERA Applications
Many CERA submitters are new to research. CERA has a specific mission to “provide training and mentorship in educational research methods.” To that end, it is our responsibility as CERA reviewers to provide constructive and detailed feedback to submitters. Encourage them to resubmit; be specific about ways to improve their submission.
What to Look For and Provide Feedback On
- Is the Introduction well cited? Is the need for this study well argued?
- Has CERA done this study before?
- Are the aims/hypotheses clearly stated? Are they measurable? Are they merely descriptive, or do they address correlations/associations between variables?
- Do the authors make good use of CERA’s recurring (demographic) questions?
- Do the survey questions answer the study aims/hypotheses?
- Do the authors use valid and reliable survey instruments?
- Are the survey questions easy to read and answer? Are the response options appropriate?