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Individual Development Plan (IDP) for Postdoctoral Fellows

This Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a valuable communication and planning tool which encourages collaboration between postdoctoral fellows and their research advisors. All postdoctoral fellows must complete and submit an IDP within three to six months of her or his initial appointment, as soon as the postdoctoral project(s) are identified. Having a clear project vision and consensus between postdoc and advisor at the beginning of the postdoctoral appointment prevents later misunderstanding. Subsequently, each postdoctoral fellow and visiting research fellow must complete and submit a renewed IDP at the time of annual reappointment.

Goals of the IDP

An annual IDP is one component of a broader professional development strategy and mentoring strategy. Specifically, it helps postdoctoral fellows:

  • Identify progress in training and document accomplishments to date.
  • Set goals for the upcoming year, including discussing how to spend time to maximize progress toward career, professional development, and project goals.
  • Identify short-term needs for improving performance.
  • Define ways to develop specific skills and experience needed to prepare for long-term career goals and complete research training.

Your IDP will be sent to you via an email that includes a link to the electronic IDP. The email includes instructions for completing and submitting your IDP.   

Completing the Individual Development Plan (IDP) at the beginning of the postdoctoral fellow’s appointment has proven to be most successful . The first page of the IDP confirms aims and their significance. A clear vision between postdoc and mentor at the beginning of the postdoctoral appointment prevents later misunderstanding.

A postdoc’s annual reappointment letter will not be issued without a completed Individual Development Plan with mentor’s comments. Four months prior to a reappointment start date, the postdoc will receive an email with a link to complete  their IDP.


myIDP is a complementary tool which provides:

  • Exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values
  • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interests
  • A tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track
  • Articles and resources to guide you through the process

myIDP should not be confused or mistaken with the IDP that postdocs must complete for reappointment.