Postdocs: Your Individual Development Plan (IDP)


⧉ Related pages: FAQ and Resources

BioSci Careers is here to help you during the entire IDP process.  This includes preparation for the IDP meeting itself and accomplishing those goals outlined in the IDP later.

Your Individual Development Plan (IDP) and annual planning meeting with your faculty mentor are intended to help you:

  • Consider your training and professional development from a broad perspective
  • Pause and reflect on goals that can get lost amidst daily research activities
  • Set clear short-, mid- and long-term training and development goals
  • Have open and direct dialogue with your mentor(s)
  • Establish clear expectations/steps
  • Facilitate self-reflection and fruitful discussions
  • Create a written action plan for your individual goals and career of choice
  • Identify and use resources to help you achieve your goals


Stanford University has adopted a new policy requiring all postdoctoral scholars to complete and discuss an IDP with their faculty mentor on an annual basis. Stanford is fundamentally committed to postdoctoral training. The IDP provides an important component of this training by (1) encouraging self-reflection and consideration of progress, goals and needs; (2) ensuring discussion of the postdoc’s goals, progress and action plan with the faculty mentor at least once per year; and (3) helping to enact short-term goals that work toward longer-term goals.

Key Deadlines


Prepare your IDP and schedule the meeting with your mentor.


  • All current postdocs: schedule your IDP meeting before June 8
  • New postdocs: within three months of joining Stanford



Meet and discuss your IDP with your mentor.


  • Although not required, sharing the IDP form before the meeting provides your mentor with the opportunity to consider your plan more deeply
  • Lead the conversation, guided by the IDP
  • Fill out the “Action Plan” section together with your faculty mentor during the IDP meeting



Verify the date of the IDP meeting using the online IDP Reporting Form.


  • Postdocs enter the meeting date on the IDP Reporting Form
  • Faculty mentors will receive an email from the IDP reporting system asking them to confirm the meeting. This confirmation is required to complete the documentation of the IDP meeting
  • The meeting verification form records only the date the meeting occurred; your IDP and discussions with your mentor remain private between you and your faculty mentor. Forms are not collected



Refer to your plan on a regular basis throughout the year; revise your plan annually

Forms and Documentation

The IDP forms were designed to stimulate helpful discussion and define a specific training plan. Postdocs can download, complete and save the fillable form, send it to their faculty mentors, and use it to guide annual IDP meetings. Ideally postdocs will share the completed form with faculty mentors before or during the IDP meeting.

For new postdocs, we recommend using the Initial IDP form. For all current postdocs, we recommend using the Annual IDP form. These forms have been developed with input from faculty and postdocs at Stanford, and include sections on self-assessment, career exploration and goal setting.

Recommended Forms

Alternative Annual Meeting Form

We recommend the faculty mentor and postdoc use the Annual IDP form (see above) for the annual meeting. However, if the faculty mentor and postdoc prefer to use the Alternative Annual Meeting Form (see below), this is an acceptable alternative. This form was developed by a Stanford School of Medicine faculty member.

Note: Alternatives to these three forms must be approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs: postdocidp[at]stanford[dot]edu.

Verify the IDP Meeting: Postdocs and Faculty Mentors

All postdocs and faculty mentors must verify their meetings. (See Step 3 above). This verification step provides an auditable record of compliance with University policy that allpostdocs and faculty mentors have at least one meeting per year that focuses on research and professional development. This procedure also complies with NIH policy and the National Academies’ recommendations, as noted above.

  • Postdocs will initiate the meeting verification via this online IDP Reporting Form.
  • Faculty mentors will complete the meeting verification by responding to a confirmation email, sent via the reporting system.
  • Only the date of the meeting is recorded; your IDP and discussions with your mentor remain privatebetween you and your faculty mentor.

Questions, comments or feedback? Please submit a HelpSU ticket by selecting “Central Office Issues” and “Postdoctoral Affairs”, or email postdocidp[at]stanford[dot]edu. More information available at the Postdoctoral Scholars website.