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The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a career planning tool whereby a trainee writes down his or her short- and long-term career goals and an actionable plan for meeting those goals. Stony Brook does not currently have an IDP policy requiring IDPs for all graduate students and postdocs, but strongly encourages the use of the IDP by all early-career researchers to help them maintain progress in their research and career and to foster their transition to independence. The IDP can also serve as a useful mentoring tool, providing an opportunity to discuss career goals and professional development opportunities with your trainees. The NIH now expects all NIH-supported students and postdocs to have an IDP in place and all NIH principal investigators (PIs) are expected to report on this in annual reports. It is the responsibility of the PI to track IDP compliance for his or her trainees. The Director for Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development can consult with you on IDPs for your trainees and offers an IDP Toolkit with information and templates for developing an IDP. Contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for more information.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development offers Planning Your Path to a Satisfying Career, which is a series workshops that support graduate students and postdocs in developing an IDP and reaching their IDP goals. The main workshop walks students and postdocs through the steps to develop a draft of their IDP. The workshop is held once a semester and by request within interested programs and departments. Contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for more information on how your students and postdocs can attend.
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has developed the Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors, which is can be used in several ways by postdocs and their supervisors. In short, it's a communication tool allowing an understanding of the joint responsibilities between a postdoc and his or her mentor during the postdoctoral appointment. Using the compact at the start of a postdoc's appointment can help clarify expectations and responsibilities as well as enhance the mentoring relationship.
The federal government's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a clarification (via OMB FAQ, Section 200.400-2) on the role of students and postdocs conducting research on all federal grants. As described by NIH Policy Notice NOT-OD-15--008, OMB clarifies that students and postdocs have a dual role as both trainees and employees. Therefore, all federally-funded research positions for students and postdocs need to provide training and professional skill development to help these researchers advance into independent careers of their choosing. This extends earlier statements from the NIH in 2007 clarifying that mentoring is an intrinsic part of effort reporting on NIH grants where mentoring cannot be distinguished from the practice of research.
The Center for Improvement of Mentored Experiences In Research (CIMER) is a national resource of materials on how to be an effective research mentor in a variety of fields. You can download curricular materials by discipline to enhance your own mentoring ability. You need to create an account to access the materials, but you can see an example from the Physics curriculum at the American Physical Society's Web site. Research Mentor Training curricula are based on the Entering Mentoring model originally developed by Jo Handelsman.
A mentoring plan is a more general tool than an IDP, whereby a mentor can describe not only his or her approach to mentoring a postdoc, but also the additional resources and networks that will be made available to a postdoc to aid the postdoc in advancing his or her scholarship and career. Mentoring plans are currently required as part of any grant proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation that includes funding for a postdoc. The National Postdoctoral Association has a toolkit with resources on developing a mentoring plan. For specific information on training resources available here at Stony Brook, contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.
A majority of postdocs engaged in research at Stony Brook and across the United States are international, and these postdocs can face unique challenges in adjusting to a U.S. research environment, from language to cultural biases to visa delays. To aid mentors in working with international postdocs, the Office of Research Integrity offers a video guidebook on mentoring international scholars.