The interaction between the faculty mentor and postdoctoral scholar plays a central role in the development of the postdoc. These resources can provide tools for you to use while mentoring postdoctoral scholars. Illinois faculty can register for a free affiliate membership to the National Postdoctoral Association to access more resources.
The Graduate College has mentoring resources for faculty members, found in the Online Toolkit. Discussing expectations about the postdoctoral period can enhance the postdoctoral training experience and prevent misunderstandings. The Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors from the American Association of Medical Colleges could be used as a starting point for the conversations about your expectations.
Individual Development Plans
Individual development plans (IDPs) provide an opportunity for postdoctoral scholars and their faculty mentors to set goals considering the individual career plans and professional development needs. A national survey of postdocs in 2003 by Sigma Xi found a plan developed early by the postdoc and adviser was associated with greater success of the postdoc.
A mentoring plan for a postdoctoral scholar should be customized to the research program and needs of the individual. Mentoring plans often include the development of an Individual Development Plan (IDP), programs or structured mentoring activities in areas such as grant writing, teaching, and other professional topics and periodic assessment of the postdoctoral scholar’s progress toward his or her career goals.
NSF Mentoring Plans
NSF grant proposals including funding support for postdoctoral researchers are required to include a postdoctoral researcher mentoring plan.
The NSF discourages the use of boilerplate language for the postdoctoral researcher mentoring plan. Each mentoring plan should be tailored to meet the needs of the particular research program and discipline. The mentoring plan may be no more than one page in length.
The mentoring plan can cover how the faculty member and postdoc will set goals for development during the postdoctoral period, the types of activities to achieve these goals and the process for evaluating progress.
These mentoring activities (PDF) can be incorporated into a postdoctoral mentoring plan.