Action: Strongly encourage the use of individual
development plans (IDPs) on all NIGMS-sponsored training and
At its best, research training is an intentional and purposeful
activity that is the product of a thoughtful analysis of the
background, interests and needs of each student and postdoctoral
trainee. This includes developing a mentoring plan that assesses
the needs and goals of each student and postdoc, describes short-
and long-term career objectives, and identifies professional
development activities needed to reach them. The individual
development plan (IDP) is a tool to help in this planning process
and also to facilitate communication between mentees and mentors.
An IDP should be viewed as a dynamic document that is periodically
reviewed and updated throughout an individual’s training.
IDPs are of proven value at any stage, from the undergraduate to
the postdoctoral level.
The concepts of mentoring plans and IDPs are not new, but
recognition of their role and effectiveness in research training is
fairly recent. The Federation of American Societies for
Experimental Biology (FASEB) and the National Postdoctoral
Association have been early proponents of the use of IDPs for
postdoctoral career planning. Excellent examples of IDPs can be
found on the Web sites of these organizations:
National Postdoctoral Association
American Association for the Advancement of Science/Science