Postdoc Mentoring Plans and the IDP

Postdoc Mentoring Plans

The purpose of a mentoring plan is to help mentees formalize their research plan and gain the necessary skills required for a successful career. Ideally, mentoring plans should keep in mind the six core competencies for postdoctoral researchers developed by the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA):

  1. Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
  2. Research skill development
  3. Communication skills
  4. Professionalism
  5. Leadership and management skills
  6. Responsible conduct of research


We recommend that both the mentor and mentee review and update the mentoring plan together annually. This will give them the opportunity to assess how well they have followed the plan and discuss ways to improve and accommodate new or altered goals. A mentoring plan for a postdoctoral scholar should be customized to the research program and needs of the individual.

You can access the OPA’s Mentoring Plan Template here.

The Importance of the IDP – Why Should You Make One?

Mentees are strongly encouraged to generate an individualized development plan (IDP) before completing the mentoring plan with their mentor. For tips on how to get started, check out this article.

Other tools for generating IDPs can be found at:

The IDP will identify the areas of development for the mentee and annual goals to achieve progress. Participation in programs or structured mentoring activities in areas of professional development will contribute to the postdoctoral scholar’s progress towards his or her goals.

Examples of mentoring activities include:

  • Career counseling
  • Training in preparation of grant proposals, publications, and presentations
  • Guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills
  • Guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas
  • Training in responsible professional practices

For a comprehensive list of the programs offered by the OPA and other campus units, please visit our Career Development page

Examples of mentoring plans: