University of Wisconsin–Madison

Individual Development Plan

For Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Research/Scholars

An Individual Development Plan helps with self-assessment, planning, and communication:

  • An IDP can help you communicate your professional development and career planning needs and intentions to others including your mentor, which can lead to helpful advice and resources.
  • You can use the IDP to make sure you and your mentor’s expectations are clearly outlined and in agreement so that there are no big surprises, particularly at the end of your training.
  • The current job market is challenging and research has shown that individuals who perform structured career planning achieve greater career success and satisfaction.

The onus to engage in the IDP process is on you – although your mentor, PI, or others may encourage and support you in doing so. The IDP itself remains private to you, and you choose which parts to share with which mentors. Through the IDP process, you may decide to identify various mentors to whom you can go for expertise and advice.

For a quick intro to IDPs, take about 10 minutes to listen to this narrated slideshow about writing your IDP, or read the transcript:

  • How do I start?

    We recommend using one of the following two IDP tools.  Each includes a self-assessment of skills, interests, and values; goal-setting guidelines; and reference to skill building and career exploration resources.

    Alternatively, your program may ask you to use a different IDP tool tailored to the learning objectives or core competencies of your field.

    • ImaginePhD is a career exploration and Individual Development Plan tool for the humanities and social sciences. It is a free online resource that facilitates career exploration by inviting users to evaluate and reflect on their own skills, values, and interest and to investigate related career opportunities.
    • The UW–Madison IDP is flexible and appropriate for all disciplines. This IDP form integrates the DiscoverPD professional development framework – click here to get started.
    • myIDP is an interactive IDP tool developed by AAAS for Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines.

    While these IDP tools are designed to be a one-stop resource to completing your IDP, you may also benefit from the following resources.

    • Read tips for discussing your IDP with your mentor, below. And if your mentor needs help getting started, share this one-pager: IDP Summary for Mentors.
    • Attend a workshop on creating an IDP tailored to graduate students and postdocs. (If you can’t attend, you can still browse workshop materials: slides / handout: SMART goals.)
    • If you are a postdoc, request a confidential individual career advising session with the Office of Postdoctoral Studies including one-on-one advice on implementing and sustaining your IDP.
    • Read about IDPs from AAAS. These articles will refer you to myIDP, but even if you choose to use a different IDP template, the general information about planning, goal-setting, assessments, and making career-related decisions will be informative.
  • Who can I consider my mentor for the purpose of discussing the IDP?

    Discussing your IDP with your mentor(s) is an important step, as a way to obtain important support, expertise, and advice. Keep in mind that you are not limited to discussing your IDP with just your faculty advisor, PI, or supervisor. The IDP may be an opportunity for you to identify various new mentors. Remember that the IDP remains private to you, and you choose which parts of the IDP to share with whom.

    The term mentoring has been used to describe many different types of relationships in the research training context. This includes academic advising, research or laboratory supervision, evaluation, informal support and career coaching. In its most general sense, mentoring is a “dynamic reciprocal relationship” between an advanced career incumbent and a less-experienced professional (protégé) aimed at promoting the development and fulfillment of both.1,2,3 It is designed to support the career and psychosocial development of the mentee.4

    1 Healy C.C. & Welchert A.J. (1997). Mentoring Relations: A Definition to Advance Research and Practice. Educational Researcher 19(9), 17-21.
    2 Palepu A., Friedman R.H., Barnett R.C., Carr P.L., Ash A.S., Szalacha L., & Moskowitz M.A. (1998). Junior faculty members’ mentoring relationships and their professional development in U.S. medical schools. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 73(3), 318-23. Epub 1998/04/04.
    3 Sambunjak D., Straus S.E., & Marusić A. (2006). Mentoring in academic medicine: A systematic review. Journal of the American Medical Association, 296(9), 1103-15.
    4 Ehrich L.C., Hansford B., & Tennent L. (2004). Formal Mentoring Programs in Education and Other Professions: A Review of the Literature. Educational Administration Quarterly. 40(4), 518-540.

  • How do I use the IDP Reporting System?

    Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, click here to access the IDP Reporting SystemInstructions are available here.

    Use of the IDP Reporting System is required for grad students and postdocs on NIH funding. The system will help your PI and grants administrator verify compliance with the IDP policy.

    The reporting system does not require you to submit the content of your IDP; rather, it helps you and your mentor log actions you take concerning the IDP. Your PI and grants administrator will have access to viewing the dates of these actions, to see that you are actively working on your IDP.

    If you are not on NIH funding but your PI or mentor would like you to use the system to help them track your IDP progress, you may do so as well.

  • What are some tips for mentees?

    PREPARATION

    • Give your mentor advance notice that you want to discuss your IDP.  If you just spring it on your mentor, he or she will not be prepared, and feedback and advice will be less constructive.
    • Bear in mind that the IDP is a new activity for many people, and they are learning how to navigate it as well.  You should be prepared to explain the process and direct mentors to the resources that are available to help them prepare.  If your mentor is unfamiliar with IDPs, send him or her to the UW–Madison IDP website or print the IDP Summary for Mentors.
    • Approach your mentor at a time when you feel he or she would be most responsive, for example, when the lab is less busy or you have made some progress in your research. Ask other members of your group/department for advice on approaching your mentor.
    • Ask your mentor if you can have a meeting, or a portion of a meeting, to discuss your IDP.  That way you can both focus on it without getting distracted by other projects.
    • Send your mentor your draft IDP in advance of your discussion so that he or she can review it and prepare for the meeting.
    • Remember that it is your plan and you do not have to share all of your goals. You might want to consider introducing some of your goals to your mentor gradually over time.
    • Do not assume you know what your mentor knows. Take advantage of your mentor’s experience and contacts. If you are planning to leave academia, for example, your mentor may be able to connect you to someone he or she knows who works in the area you plan to pursue.

    QUESTIONS YOU MAY WANT TO ASK YOUR MENTOR TO START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT IDPS

    • Why were you interested in being my mentor? What did you hope we would both gain from the relationship?
    • How would you describe your relationship with your own graduate/post-doctoral mentor? What did you like/dislike about that mentoring relationship? Did you discuss career planning with your mentor as a graduate student or post-doc?
    • What skills do I still need to learn?  How can I best learn those skills? Discussing this IDP might help us create and prioritize a list.
    • What aspect of my training do you expect me to learn from you and what aspects do you expect me to learn from others or on my own? Reviewing this IDP may help us figure that out together.
    • Are there ways I can help you to better mentor me?  Would reviewing my short and long-term goal help?
    • Do you have a specific list of expectations you want me to meet and a timeline? Could we discuss how those fit into my overall career development plans?

    TROUBLESHOOTING

    MENTOR SEEMS RELUCTANT TO DISCUSS YOUR IDP
    • Do not assume that your mentor’s reluctance relates to you.  He or she may not know about the process and you may need to educate your mentor about the value of the IDP.
    • Remind your mentor that the university recommends that all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize IDPs.  Those graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding are required by the university to have an IDP.  Point out that your discussion will help meet that requirement and a section of the annual NIH progress report.
    • Make it clear that the IDP is important to you.
    YOU ARE NERVOUS THAT YOUR MENTOR WILL NOT BE SUPPORTIVE OF A CAREER CHOICE OUTSIDE OF ACADEMIA
    • Remember that you are not the first person to make that decision.
    • Spend some time ahead of your meeting to think about why you have made that choice and be able to articulate those reasons to your mentor.
    • Find out if other students or postdoctoral researchers your mentor knows have entered the career you plan to pursue and present them as success stories.

For Mentors

An IDP is an important tool to help grad students and postdocs assess their skills, interests, and values; determine a plan for meeting academic and professional goals; and communicate with their mentor(s) about evolving goals and related skills.

  • Is this required?

    The university policy states, “UW–Madison recommends all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize Individual Development Plans to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). Beginning October 1, 2014, all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding are required to have an IDP.” Click here to read the full policy.

  • What is my responsibility?

    The primary responsibility to write and implement the IDP lies with the grad student or postdoc. However, having conversations with a mentor or mentoring team is an essential step in implementing the IDP.

    If a grad student or postdoc has indicated you as a mentor in the Individual Development Plan (IDP) reporting system, you will receive an automated email providing you with further information. The email will also include a link into the reporting system by which you verify that you and the mentee are working together on the plan. For graduate students and postdocs on NIH funding, completion of the IDP is required, and the tracking tool helps PIs and grants administrators verify that an IDP is in place.

    Your mentees may choose to discuss their IDPs with you at various points: after conducting the self-assessment as they begin to develop goals, after defining their goals, and/or at various stages as they implement the plan. While the onus is on the mentees to develop IDPs, it is also important for you to encourage them to interact with you regarding the IDP. They may choose to share certain parts of the IDP with you and keep other parts (such as the skills assessment, or personal goals) private.

  • Why is an IDP a helpful tool for grad students and postdocs?

    An IDP:

    • Helps mentees identify their unique strengths and areas needing development
    • Allows them to be responsible for their own learning by setting clear and attainable goals
    • Is motivating when mentees celebrate milestones and successes
    • Serves as a communications tool between mentee and mentor
    • Is personalized to reflect mentees’ goals as they change

    IDPs are consistent with studies that demonstrate the positive impact that goal-setting has on performance.1 Research shows that people are more likely to achieve goals when they have specific, written plans in place for doing so,2 and they are more satisfied in their careers and consider themselves more successful than peers who do not have career plans.3

    References

    1 Seijts G. H. & Latham G. P. (2012). Knowing when to set learning versus performance goals. Organizational Dynamics, 41, 1-6.
    2 Gollwitzer P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493-503.
    3 Abele A. E. & Wiese B. S. (2008). The nomological network of self-management strategies and career success. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 81, 733-749.

  • Are there resources to help me as a mentor?

    Yes. These webpages are intended to provide a solid start to preparing mentors for conversations about IDPs. In addition to the tips for IDP mentors found on this page, we suggest choosing from the following face-to-face activities for mentors. (If you are also a PI on an NIH-funded grant, please see the section for PIs as well.)

    Information Sessions: In anticipation of increased interest in IDPs in fall 2014, information sessions were held for PIs, grants administrators, and mentors. These sessions provided a summary overview IDPs, as well as the policy, reporting system, and resources. All of the same content can be found on this webpage.

    The content of these info sessions is available online as 4 video segments (NetID login required). Questions raised during info sessions have been added to the FAQ section of the IDP webpage.

    Research Mentor Training: UW–Madison is home to a nationally renowned, evidence-based mentor training program, which includes guidance on using IDPs. You may benefit from reviewing the curriculum directly, hosting mentor training within your department, or participating in mentor training held on campus. To learn more, visit the following websites.

    Designed to provide resources to improve research mentoring relationships, these websites provide curricula, assessment tools and resources relevant for mentors and mentees, as well as those who would like to implement mentor training:

    The Delta Program in Research, Teaching and Learning, in partnership with the Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement WISCIENCE (formerly Institute for Biology Education) and the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research offer research mentor training opportunities to members of the UW–Madison community. See these sites for current and future offerings:

  • How do I use the IDP Reporting System?

    Mentors, click here to access the IDP Reporting System, and click here for reporting system instructions.

    Use of the IDP Reporting System is required for grad students and postdocs on NIH funding. The system will help PIs and grants administrators verify compliance with the IDP policy.

    The reporting system does not require mentees to submit the content of their IDPs; rather, it helps you and your mentee log actions taken concerning the IDP. The PI and grants administrator will have access to viewing the dates of these actions, to see that the mentee is actively working on the IDP.

    When a mentee indicates that he or she has met with you regarding the IDP, you are asked to confirm this in the reporting system. You’ll receive a monthly email summary reminding you of any IDP conversations you’ve yet to confirm.

    Graduate students and postdocs not on NIH funding may choose to use the IDP Reporting System as well.

  • Who do I contact with questions?

    Regarding resources, workshops, or website: Alissa Ewer, Professional Development and Communications, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu.

    Additionally, the following faculty members are available to talk with you about their experiences using IDPs:

    • Dr. Alan Rapraeger, Professor, Department of Human Oncology; Director, Office of Postdoctoral Studies, School of Medicine and Public Health – rapraeger@humonc.wisc.edu
    • Dr. Zsuzsanna Fabry, Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program Chair – zfabry@wisc.edu.
    • Dr. David Wassarman, Professor, Cell and Regenerative Biology; Chair, Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology – dawassarman@wisc.edu.
  • What are some tips for mentors?

    GETTING STARTED:

    • Point your mentees to online resources. The Graduate School will email all graduate students and postdocs about Individual Development Plans and refer them to these resources. That said, a personal message from you, the mentor, will demonstrate that you encourage use of IDPs for academic planning and professional development and are willing to talk with them about their IDPs when they are ready.
    • Familiarize yourself with the above online resources. In summary, the IDP process involves: assessment of skills, interests, and values; writing goals and setting specific implementation steps; discussion of the IDP with the mentor or mentoring team; implementation of the plan; and review of the IDP on a regular basis.
    • When they’re just getting started, encourage your mentees to attend the Creating Your Individual Development Plan workshops hosted by the Graduate School each semester, or take 10 minutes to listen to the narrated slideshow about writing your IDP.
    • Give your mentees time to develop IDPs on their own, and encourage them to meet with you when they’re ready.
    • Respect that there may be some parts of the IDP that your mentees may choose to keep to themselves. Developing an IDP is a process that asks individuals to deeply assess skills, interests, and values. Some of what they discover and choose to explore may be personal. By articulating to your mentee that you accept that they may choose to disclose some parts of their IDP to you but not all, you give them the space to be more candid and introspective throughout the process.

    ONCE YOUR MENTEE IS READY TO DISCUSS THE IDP:

    • Be open to providing feedback. Ask your mentee the method and frequency that he or she would prefer to get feedback, e.g. if you two should schedule regular meetings to talk about progress, or if email check-ins would be preferred. At a minimum, you should meet individually with your mentee about his/her IDP once per year.
    • It is likely that your mentee will want to discuss goals and implementation steps related to academic, research, and professional initiatives. Be positive and encouraging. You can improve a mentee’s self-confidence by making sure he or she has appropriate preparation or training to achieve goals, access to role models, and explicit encouragement to build confidence in his or her ability to achieve the goal (Locke and Latham, 2002).
    • Challenge mentees to set important goals and commit strongly to them. Encouraging your mentee to strive for challenging goals will boost his or her confidence, which leads to stronger goal commitment (Locke and Latham, 2002).
    • Encourage mentees to set specific goals, with specific timelines and specific implementation steps. Talk with them about having strategy for implementing the IDP. Having a plan for when and how they are going to achieve their goals will increase likelihood of success (Gollwitzer, 1999).
    • If your mentee has set a goal that he or she doesn’t know how to implement, your guidance can be invaluable. If the goal is beyond what you can help with, encourage your mentee to tap other experts, assembling a mentoring team with various perspectives, expertise, and connections.
    • Consider the difference between learning goals and performance goals. Learning goals aim to develop skills or increase knowledge, and performance goals describe a performance metric to be met. The IDP may be a mix of both types of goals, but if you suspect that a mentee has set a performance goal prematurely when a learning goal may be more appropriate, encourage him or her to adjust the plan to build basic skills and knowledge first and define performance goals second (Seijts and Latham, 2012).
    • Support them in prioritizing their identified goals. This includes encouraging mentees to sort through the level of importance and urgency of the goals they have generated.
    • Talk with your mentees about strategies for combating factors that distract them from carrying out their goals (Gollwitzer, 1999). For example, once your mentee has set a goal and implementation plan, ask her what distractions she imagines could hinder her progress, and then challenge her to describe she specific actions she will take to counteract those distractions.
    • Be sure that your mentees are allowed to set some – or all – of their own goals. Many programs will choose to structure IDPs around academic learning outcomes or professional competencies, and this is a good approach to making sure that graduate students and postdocs are getting what they came for. However, the IDP process should also give them space to explore and set their own goals.

    AFTER YOU HAVE MET WITH YOUR MENTEE:

    • Follow through with what your mentee indicated was his/her preferred method and frequency for feedback, e.g. monthly meetings to check in on progress. At a minimum, you should talk with your mentee about his/her IDP once per year.
    • Log the meeting in the online IDP Reporting System. In order to help you and your mentees keep track of conversations you’ve had about the IDP, the Graduate School has developed an online tool for logging these interactions. This tool will also assist PIs and grants administrators to verify that IDPs are in places.

    QUESTIONS?

    Contacts: Heather McFadden, Research Compliance, heather.mcfadden@wisc.edu; Alissa Ewer, Professional Development, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu.

    Additionally, the following faculty members are available to talk with you about their experiences using IDPs:

    • Dr. Alan Rapraeger, Professor, Department of Human Oncology; Director, Office of Postdoctoral Studies, School of Medicine and Public Health – rapraeger@humonc.wisc.edu
    • Dr. Zsuzsanna Fabry, Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program Chair –  zfabry@wisc.edu.
    • Dr. David Wassarman, Professor, Cell and Regenerative Biology; Chair, Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology – dawassarman@wisc.edu.

    REFERENCES:
    Locke, E. A. & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a Practically Useful Theory Of Goal Setting And Task Motivation: A 35-Year Odyssey.  American Psychologist, 57, 705-717.
    Gollwitzer P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493-503.
    Seijts G. H., Latham G. P. (2012). Knowing when to set learning versus performance goals. Organizational Dynamics, 41, 1-6.

For Principal Investigators and Program Directors of NIH Grants

In an effort to better prepare graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for careers in the biomedical workforce, in July 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a notice encouraging NIH grantees to develop an institutional policy requiring an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for every graduate student and postdoctoral scholar on NIH funding. (The NIH issued a revision in August 2014)

In response to this notice, our campus has adopted a policy stating, “UW–Madison recommends all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize Individual Development Plans to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). Beginning October 1, 2014, all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding are required to have an IDP.” Click here to read the full policy.

  • What resources exist to help with this new requirement?

    This webpage describe resources, tools, and workshops aimed at making the IDP process smoother for grad students, postdocs, and mentors.  Additionally, the Graduate School hosts an IDP Reporting System in which mentors and mentees log IDP actions. This system allows PIs, program directors, and grants administrators to confirm that IDPs are in use. The system does not record the content of the IDP itself, which is intended to be confidential; rather users log actions, such as a discussion about the IDP or a goal milestone. At a minimum, PIs and grants administrators should expect grad students and postdocs to log at least one action per year.

    Information Sessions: In anticipation of increased interest in IDPs in fall 2014, information sessions were held for PIs, grants administrators, and mentors. These sessions provided a summary overview IDPs, as well as the policy, reporting system, and resources. All of the same content can be found on this webpage.

    The content of these info sessions is available online as 4 video segments (NetID login required). Questions raised during info sessions have been added to the FAQ section of the IDP webpage.

    Suggested Text Regarding IDPs for NIH Progress Reports

    We offer the following suggested text (italicized, below) to address IDP usage in the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), section B-4. Individual PIs should feel free to modify the text as needed, and to elaborate on the ways that you are encouraging mentees to utilize IDPs.

    The University of Wisconsin–Madison requires that all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding utilize Individual Development Plans to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentors. Additionally, the university recommends that all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize IDPs, regardless of funding source.

    The university offers a collection of resources and tools to support mentees, mentors, and PIs in implementing IDPs. These include a UW–Madison IDP template, workshops for mentees (both face-to-face and online videos), peer learning groups for mentees, as well as guidelines for mentors. More information can be found here: https://grad.wisc.edu/professional-development/individual-development-plan/.

    IDP activity for NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers is tracked in the university’s IDP reporting system, a tool that maintains mentee privacy yet allows mentors and PIs to monitor IDP-related activity.

  • How do I use the IDP Reporting System?

    Click here to access the IDP Reporting System.

    Click here for instructions.

    Use of the IDP Reporting System is required for grad students and postdocs on NIH funding. The system will help you verify compliance with the IDP policy. The reporting system does not require mentees to submit the content of their IDPs; rather, it allows them to log actions taken concerning the IDP.

  • Who do I contact with questions?

    Regarding resources, workshops, or website: Alissa Ewer, Professional Development and Communications, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu.

    Additionally, the following faculty members are available to talk with you about their experiences using IDPs:

    • Dr. Alan Rapraeger, Professor, Department of Human Oncology; Director, Office of Postdoctoral Studies, School of Medicine and Public Health – rapraeger@humonc.wisc.edu
    • Dr. Zsuzsanna Fabry, Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Program Chair – zfabry@wisc.edu.
    • Dr. David Wassarman, Professor, Cell and Regenerative Biology; Chair, Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology – dawassarman@wisc.edu.

For Grants Administrators of NIH Grants

As grants administrators, you will be instrumental in ensuring our institution’s compliance with this measure. To support your efforts, the campus has several resources available including IDP templates (described above in the section for Graduate Students and Postdocs) and an institution-wide IDP Reporting System.

Should you have any questions or concerns after reviewing this information, please contact:

Alissa Ewer, Professional Development and Communications, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu

Information Sessions: In anticipation of increased interest in IDPs in fall 2014, information sessions were held for PIs, grants administrators, and mentors. These sessions provided a summary overview IDPs, as well as the policy, reporting system, and resources. All of the same content can be found on this webpage.

The content of these info sessions is available online as 4 video segments (NetID login required). Questions raised during info sessions have been added to the FAQ section of the IDP webpage.

  • How do I use the IDP Reporting System?

    Grants administrators, click here to access to the IDP Reporting SystemAdditionally, the 3rd video segment from the IDP information sessions provides information about the reporting system (NetID login required).

    Use of the IDP Reporting System is required for grad students and postdocs on NIH funding. The system will help PIs and grants administrators verify compliance with the IDP policy.

    The reporting system does not require mentees to submit the content of their IDPs; rather, it helps mentees and mentors log actions taken concerning the IDP. PIs and grants administrators will have access to viewing the dates of these actions, to see that the mentee is actively working on the IDP.

    Graduate students and postdocs not on NIH funding may choose to use the IDP Reporting System as well.

  • What do grad students/postdocs and PIs see when they log in to the IDP Reporting System?

    You can view instructions for graduate students and postdocs here and for PIs here.

    Additionally, the 3rd video segment from the IDP information sessions provides information about the reporting system (NetID login required).

  • What will we need to report on?

    Effective October 1, 2014 NIH will request that institutions report on how they are using IDPs when submitting a Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for all projects involving graduate student and/or postdoctoral researchers. Principal Investigators and/or Project Directors will be responsible for reporting progress on IDPs in Section B4 of the RPPR.

    Suggested Text Regarding IDPs for NIH Progress Reports

    We offer the following suggested text (italicized, below) to address IDP usage in the NIH Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR), section B-4. Individual PIs should feel free to modify the text as needed, and to elaborate on the ways that you are encouraging mentees to utilize IDPs.

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison requires that all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding utilize Individual Development Plans to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentors. Additionally, the university recommends that all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize IDPs, regardless of funding source.

    The university offers a collection of resources and tools to support mentees, mentors, and PIs in implementing IDPs. These include a UW-Madison IDP template, workshops for mentees (both face-to-face and online videos), peer learning groups for mentees, as well as guidelines for mentors. More information can be found here: https://grad.wisc.edu/professional-development/individual-development-plan/.

    IDP activity for NIH-funded graduate students and postdoctoral researchers is tracked in the university’s IDP reporting system, a tool that maintains mentee privacy yet allows mentors and PIs to monitor IDP-related activity.

  • What is the university policy on IDPs?

    The policy states, “UW–Madison recommends all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers utilize Individual Development Plans to set academic and career goals and facilitate conversations with their mentor(s). Beginning October 1, 2014, all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers supported by NIH funding are required to have an IDP.” Click here to read the full policy.

  • Who do I contact with questions?

    Regarding resources, workshops, or website: Alissa Ewer, Professional Development and Communications, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu.

For Graduate Program Coordinators

Your role as graduate program coordinator is a pivotal one within your program or department. You may serve as a source of information both for grad students and postdocs, as well as for faculty mentors and PIs.

  • Are there resources to help me train grads/postdocs about use of IDPs?

    Yes. Please encourage your graduate students to attend the Creating an Individual Development Plan workshop hosted each semester.  Watch GradConnections Weekly to find the workshop date/time/location, or search the Graduate School events calendar.  Additionally, upon request, staff in the Office of Professional Development may be available to visit your program and host the IDP workshop.  Contact Alissa Ewer (alissa.ewer@wisc.edu) to inquire about availability.

  • Are there resources to help me train mentees about the use of IDPs?

    Yes. UW–Madison is home to a nationally renowned, evidence-based research mentor training program, which includes guidance on using IDPs. The core research mentor training curriculum, Entering Mentoring, used for this training is designed as a facilitation manual so others can implement the training for their own department or program. Train the trainer workshops are offered locally and nationally to support implementation of the curriculum. You do not need to be an expert on mentoring to host the training. To learn more, contact Christine Pfund (christine.pfund@wisc.edu) or visit the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research website.

  • Does this only affect those on NIH funding?

    No. The university policy requires use of IDPs for all grad students and postdocs on NIH funding and recommends IDPs for all grad students and postdocs on campus.

    Even if your grad students and postdocs are not NIH-funded, IDPs are strongly recommended as a tool to support their academic and career development.

  • Can I use the IDP Reporting System?

    Yes. Graduate Program Coordinators can use the IDP Reporting System, regardless of whether your graduate students are NIH-funded. Click here to access to the IDP Reporting System, then select “Mentees” and click “Go!”. On the next page, leave name and UDDS blank, and select your graduate program. If you want to see all of your graduate students regardless of funding source, uncheck the “Show only NIH mentees” box. Next you’ll get a list of your graduate students, and the “Last action date” column will indicate if/when they recorded their most recent IDP-related activity. If you click on the name of the student, you’ll see more detail.

  • Who do I contact with questions?

    Alissa Ewer, Professional Development and Communications, alissa.ewer@wisc.edu.

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