According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research training is an intentional and purposeful activity that is the product of a thoughtful analysis of the background, interests and needs of each undergraduate and graduate student, and postdoctoral researcher. This includes developing a mentoring plan that assesses the needs and goals of each student and postdoctoral researcher that describes short- and long-term career objectives, and identifies the professional development activities needed to reach them. The individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to help in this planning process and to facilitate communication between mentees and mentors. An IDP should be viewed as a dynamic document that is periodically reviewed and updated throughout an individual’s training.
It is important to assist undergraduate and graduate student, and postdoctoral researchers to achieve their career goals and to become contributing members of their academic and industry research fields. As of October 1, 2014, the NIH has encouraged grantees to develop institutional policies requiring an IDP to be implemented for every student and postdoctoral researcher supported by a NIH grant. NIH encourages grantees to report the use of IDPs on their progress report, regardless of the type of NIH grant that is used for support. NIH does not expect institutions to include the actual IDPs in their progress report. Rather, the report would outline current practices that document that IDPs are used to help manage the training for every student and postdoctoral researcher supported by a NIH grant. See NIH Notice NOT-OD-13-093 for more information.
The UTSA General IDP Template can be used as a starting point to create an IDP for all UTSA student and postdoctoral researchers.
At UTSA, MARC-U*STAR (Maximizing Access to Research Careers – Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research) trainees utilize an online template from AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) to develop their IDP. This online template (http://myidp.sciencecareers.org/) is available to everyone and includes skills assessment, career exploration, goal-setting modules.
IDP Resources and Tools
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – My IDP Tool