Resources for Mentors


Mentors play a key role in postdoctoral fellow’s future success. A solid mentor-postdoc relationship is the basis for high-quality postdoctoral training experience. Below you will find a variety of resources about drafting a mentoring plan, suggestions for effective mentoring and more. 

The Individual Development Plan (IDP)

In light of the 2012 NIH Director Biomedical Workforce Task Force report, starting October 2014, the NIH has revised its policy, requiring to include a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with grants. See more at:

Why is it important?

In 2005, Sigma Xi conducted a postdoc survey for better understanding postdoc needs and experiences (Davis, G. 2005. Doctors without orders. American Scientist 93(3, supplement)). The results have shown that research/ career plans for postdocs provide a framework of accountability and responsibility. Furthermore, the data showed that postdoc that had a structured plan as compared to those without a plan were overall more satisfied, gave their advisor higher ratings, had fewer conflicts, submitted more grants and published more. 

The IDP is a concept used in career development to help employees to define and pursue their career goals. The IDP is extremely important as it:

  • Helps identify short- and long-term goals
  • Serves as a reminder to achieving these goals
  • Serves as a great conversation starter between the mentor and the postdoc about their career goals and how to achieve them

How to construct an IDP?

The IDP should be created by the postdoctoral fellow. The process consists of 4-steps:

1) Self-evaluation of skills, values and interests

2) Identifying a preferred career and alternative options

3) Set specific goals, also known as SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound, to prepare for the desired career path

4) Postdoc discuss their plan with their mentor and implement it. Annual reviews of the plan are highly encouraged

Resources about the IDP