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best practices for faculty

Best Practices for Faculty Using the IDP 

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a graduate student- and postdoc-driven planning and assessment tool customized to each graduate student’s or postdoctoral scholar’s developmental stage and goals. When graduate students or postdocs complete an IDP, they receive an assessment of their skills, progress, goals, and action items. This process in turn helps graduate students and postdocs to better guide their progress meetings with faculty. The myIDP website is one tool that can provide graduate students and postdocs with structure for the process.

New NIH Policy on IDPs

The new NIH policy encourages institutions to develop IDPs for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars supported by NIH awards. Starting Oct. 1, 2014, NIH will begin to encourage grantees to report the use of those IDPs on the progress report.

The myIDP website  has been modified to assist with institutional compliance.  A new feature of myIDP will allow users to print out or send a certificate to any email address documenting their progress in creating an IDP.  The certificate will have a checklist that reports which sections of myIDP have been completed and whether there has been a discussion with the mentor.  This will allow administrative officials to determine which sections need to be completed to comply with the new requirement.

If You Mentor a Postdoc:

The postdoc labor contract requires PIs to participate in an IDP process if requested by the postdoc. In addition, postdocs may request a written assessment of research goals and progress expectations for the coming year. For more information, see Article 9 of the UC-UAW Contract.

Faculty’s Role in the IDP Process

  • Your graduate students and postdocs may set up a meeting with you to share their IDP summary reportwith you.(View sample myIDP summary report here)
  • During the meeting, it may be helpful to think about your student or postdoc’s progress, competencies and areas for improvement in light of his/her academic and professional goals. You might also review the IDP related events on this site and for any that are relevant to your advisee’s needs.
  • Using the completed IDP as a guide/framework, students and postdocs are encouraged to lead the discussion of their self-assessment, goals and plans. In this way, they are empowered to take ownership of their training and professional development.
  • Your role is to add your perspective to their proposed plan, and the two of you will work collaboratively to identify specific actions and resources to help your student achieve his/her academic/professional goals.
  • If a student or postdoc seeks advice regarding alternative career paths or careers and goals outside of your area of expertise, you may:
    • Connect students and postdocs to a professional network that includes individuals in the areas of their interests, especially with alumni from their program
    • Recommend identifying a second mentor in their field of interest
    • Refer graduate students (not postdocs) to career counselors and resources at the UCLA Career Center
    • Encourage exploration of the varied career and professional development resources also available on campus through the Professional and Career Development Website
    • Acknowledge that each individual has her or his own goals, ideas, values, and circumstances. The right path for one person is not necessarily the right path for another.

A Note for the Biological Sciences:

Bioscience Ph.D. training provides outstanding preparation for careers in many different fields, including teaching, pharmaceutical research, biotechnology, law and regulatory issues, or government and non-profit policy groups. The scarcity of faculty positions relative to the supply of PhD’s means that many of our students may pursue non-academic careers.

Many faculty members are already utilizing the IDP process with their graduate students and postdoctoral scholars within their department. The myIDP website is one tool that can provide structure to the process.

Benefits of Using the IDP Process with your Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars:

  • Establishes a foundation for a solid working relationship with your graduate students and postdoctoral scholars
  • Sets clear expectations for the future
  • Assesses progress, skills and professional development needs, clarifying career goals and expectations, which will lead to greater productivity and success in the long term
  • Sets academic and professional development goals and action plans for achieving them


Articles and Resources

Science Careers: You Need a Game Plan:

Mentoring topics for each stage of trainingCouncil of Graduate Schools

IDP Events on Campus