Summary of potential mentoring problems
In the PIs response to our priority list they asked for more information on the potential problems that we mentioned with mentoring. Here is the summary that I (Jennifer) sent them.
You asked about the mentoring problem. The problem basically is that the mentor has to reread all of a trainee's papers to check their annotations right up until the trainee is experienced enough to be let loose. This is a problem for annotators who already have their hands full with annotation of their own, and many other tasks going on. The problem gets bigger when the mentor tries to save time by running a training course for 8 people, as with Evelyn's training course at Roslyn. Does she then need to reread the papers from 8 annotators until they are fully trained? This is not really feasible. The problem is not yet really big as we are just starting out, but we feel that it is essential that we should have an SOP to deal with this before the flood gates open.
We have some good ideas that we need to think through some more. So far:
1) We need a really slick, reusable training course that makes sure trainee annotators have seen one of each important annotation example before they are let loose.
2) We need a way to measure when annotators are ready to be let loose, and we need to encourage them to reach this point as quickly as possible so that mentors are released to deal with other trainees.
3) We need to turn trainees into trainers as quickly as possible, and the training programme above should take acount of this. We know that they will immediately start training others anyway, so we need to accept and accommodate that.
4) The mentoring process can be greatly speeded up by using good tools. For example GOA have an excellent tool that helps them with their training. The annotators were keen that we should consider tools as an option to help this. However, we understand that funding is an issue. Evelyn would like to point out that there is a call for tools proposals from the BBSRC just now that could perhaps help with this.
These are our thoughts so far but we are still working on this issue. I hope the explanation helps.