As of January 28, 2014, an IDP is required for all NEW Postdoctoral Scholar appointments.  The IDP must be co-developed and signed by mentors and Postdoctoral Scholars and submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral Programs for approval within 3 months of the appointment date.  Submissions should be submitted as email attachments to [email protected].  Please use the template provided on this page to develop an IDP. 

What is an IDP?

Establishing good communication between postdocs and supervisors is critical for a successful relationship. The Individual Development Plan (IDP) serves as a communication tool between postdoc and supervisor(s), and provides a planning process that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives. The IDP opens communication, identifies expectations, establishes objective criteria for success, recognizes the importance of training and service, and is flexible to allow new opportunities to be pursued when they appear. The IDP should include defined time and resources devoted to research and career development activities in addition to contributions to the supervisor's research.

If it serves the purpose of the career goals of the postdoc (expressed via the IDP), it is possible for postdoc scholars to take courses at OSU to acquire skills and expertise in areas beyond that of the research topic that the postdoc is working on. This includes the 18-credit Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching (GCCUT). Since postdoc scholars are not OSU employees, tuition reduction is not avaialble.

Two recent reports (the NIH Biomedical Research Workforce Report and the NIGMS Strategic Plan) have brought renewed attention to the value of career planning for scientists. IDPs have been suggested as particularly useful tools for assisting in the career development of science PhDs. In response to this need, a interactive, web-based tool that will help postdocs set and achieve long-term and short-term career goals was launched in September 2012: myIDP. Created with support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, myIDP helps postdocs and graduate students in the sciences develop a step-by-step plan for reaching their career goals.

OSU’s IDP requirements for postdoctoral scholars

At Oregon State University, mentors are expected to work with all new Postdoctoral Scholars to establish an IDP, and this document must be submitted to the Office of Postdoctoral Programs for approval before the end of the third month of the internship. The mentor must conduct an annual review with the postdoc that includes a progress evaluation of the IDP, and this must also be submitted to the OPP before the position can be renewed for a second or third year. 

How to create an IDP

A good IDP is not a “one size fits all” document; it needs to be tailored to the specific aptitudes and goals of the postdoc as well as the laboratory and project that is funding the postdoctoral opportunity.  Mentors and postdocs alike should plan on devoting significant time to a collaborative effort to produce the IDP.  The OPP recommends following these steps:

  1. The Mentor(s) and the Postdoctoral Scholar should become familiar with the Postdoctoral Core Competencies (see below). It may also be helpful to review information about IDPs provided in the “related links” box. 
  2. The Postdoc should complete a self-assessment of skills, experiences, goals and interests using the Competency Checklist.  The Postdoc should then write a first draft of the "career goals" and "research activities" sections in the IDP template and make an initial attempt to fill out the objectives, activities, and postdoc responsibility sections of the core competency matrix in the IDP template.  It is important to note that these objectives should be oriented to the professional development of the postdoc to meet career goals; this is NOT a position description of duties. 
  3. The Mentor(s) and Postdoc should meet in person to go over the competency checklist and the postdoc's initial contributions to the IDP.  At the same time the Mentor(s) should share their expectations for how the postdoc will be trained in laboratory and/or project that is funding the postdoctoral opportunity.  During this meeting or in a subsequent meeting, they should complete the IDP template.
  4. The IDP should be signed and dated by the Mentor(s) and the Postdoc and sent as either as a hard copy via campus mail or as an email attachment to [email protected]. The OPP will review and approve the IDP.

The Annual Report

Before the end of the first and second years of the postdoctoral appointment, the Mentor(s) and Postdoc should meet in person again for an annual review based on the IDP using the Annual Progress Report Template with particular attention to accomplishments, areas that still need attention and responsibilities by both parties to address the needs. A written version of the evaluation should be prepared by the mentor(s), signed and dated by the mentor(s) and postdoc, and sent to [email protected]. If appropriate, the IDP may also be revised at this time, and updates should be included in the report.

The annual report needs to be approved by OPP prior to reappointment.

Core Competencies

Oregon State University endorses the six core competencies for postdoctoral scholars and fellows established by the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA).  As noted by the NPA, in an era of increasing complexity for the research enterprise, postdoctoral scholars and fellows pursue professional opportunities not only in academia but also in industry, government, nonprofits and entrepreneurship.  These six core competencies offer a framework for defining specific professional development needs for individuals based on their personal goals, aptitudes and prior experience. 

Download the complete NPA Core Competencies Document.