Letters to a Young Librarian recently had a great post on the idea and importance of peer mentors. Jessica Olin makes a great point about the value of having a support network and peers who you can turn to for support and honest feedback. Mentors can provide advice. But sometimes having those close relationships that you can openly discuss challenges with are more valuable than unsolicited advice.
Similar to peer mentoring I like the idea of peer nurturing. Anyone who has written for academic publications has probably revived a soul crushing, want to crawl into a hole peer review. These devastating reviews have a tendency to cause a whole lot of doubt — particularly in new scholars.
I get that we need standards and that bad research shouldn’t be published. Peer review has a place and purpose. But I think the idea of peer nurturing is also valuable. Helpful honest feedback that allows new scholars to gain skills and grow professionally is part of peer nurturing. Creating environments that allow people to correct mistakes, learn, and be part of an engaged conversation around their work is important.
A quality peer mentor relationship can provide this type of feedback in a safe space. Having that group of supportive colleagues can be crucial for new scholars.