When is a mentor not a mentor? Julie Gould finds out.

Good scientific mentors can provide both careers and psychosocial support, says Erin Dolan, who researches innovative approaches to science education at the University of Georgia in Athens. They provide answers to questions and often use their own professional network to help colleagues who want to move to a different sector, for example.

How does this compare with the support offered by academic supervisors? Gemma Modinos, a neuropsychologist at King’s College London, explains.

Finally, career consultants Sarah Blackford and Tina Persson explain how mentoring differs from coaching. They outline the techniques used by professional coaches to help researchers decide on a course of action to reach their career goals.