Friday, August 2, 2013

NIH to implement Individual Development Plan (IDP) requirement

Just got a note from the NIH Office for Extramural research that the NIH released a notice (NOT-OD-13-093) promoting the implementation of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for all grad students and postdoc on any type of NIH funding. Each institution will have to devise their own strategy to develop and monitor IDPs and they must also be introduced in the Progress Report.

There is constant talk of IDPs at career development workshops and Science Careers developed a website last year where you can develop your own (, which I discussed in detail in a previous blog post. Briefly, an IDP is an actionable plan which can have short and long term goals for career advancement and professional improvement. Bottom line, I think this is a great idea, because it would promote more accountability in mentoring, as mentors must be involved in monitoring the IDP of people on their grants, but the decision on what templates to use and what kind of reporting to do will make all the difference. IDP structure vary widely and the fact that institutions are left to their own devices in deciding which IDP to use may mean a completely different approach in different research centers. Some universities already have IDP templates and others don't even know what an IDP is. The Science Careers site is a good introduction and it is more detailed than many university templates (here and here), but the workflow for developing goals is a little clumsy and it should be better if this wants to become a major point of reference for IDP development.

While a lot of "mentoring" done for NIH grants ends up remaining only on paper, I have experienced on my own skin how establishing mentoring teams and mentoring plans will eventually get you a good portion of the mentoring you need. Even if you get one tenth of the mentoring described in your mentoring plan, you are already way ahead of the curve and more official emphasis on reporting mentoring will definitely improve the odds. I assume that now that my K99 award has transitioned to the independent phase, the R00, I will have to use an IDP for students that may end up as personnel on the grant.

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