Background: Recent research on the preparation of graduate students in education for research has focused on general matters of epistemology, curriculum, and teaching. What should researchers know, how should research courses be designed, and what instructional approaches are most effective?
Purpose: This article addresses the problem of the preparation of educational researchers via an account of the results of a 10-year foundation-funded project. It focused on the “middle years” of doctoral study and addressed the value of faculty research mentors and other means of strengthening the research capacity of graduate students. The article offers an account of the development and history of the project, and the results.
Research Design: The article is an analytic essay based on the literature on the subject, institutional documents, interviews, and observations. The article also has features of a qualitative case study, featuring the two primary forms of support (beyond financial) that the Michigan State project offered its Spencer Fellows, opportunities for collegial development as scholars, and insight into the professional elements of research careers.
Conclusions: The article proposes that the focus of the Michigan State project—on mentoring students in the middle of their graduate careers (with other things)—produced fruitful attention to the strengthening of research methods and thus more satisfying and better work.