Postdoc Mentoring 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 mentees generate an individualized development plan (IDP) first. Then both the mentor and mentee work on the mentoring plan together and review and update it 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.

Sample Contracts for Mentors and Mentees

Once the expectations of both the mentor and the mentee have been clarified with regard to the mentoring relationship, it is important to develop a contract that codifies the expectations. A contract is a tool that can be used to remind the mentor and mentee of their agreed upon expectations and responsibilities.

(Note that we do not necessarily endorse the content of each contract. We are merely providing them to illustrate the types of contracts used.)