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Office of the Vice President for Research


Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The University of South Carolina has developed a campus-wide IDP for postdoctoral scholars and graduate students to meet the requirements of the National Institutes of Health

The Office of the Vice President for Research has provided the documentation and support for postdoctoral scholar individual development plans (IDPs). For information about IDPs for graduate students, visit the Graduate School website.

What is an individual development plan?

An IDP is a written document used to outline past accomplishments, identify areas in need of development and create feasible professional goals that will enable a postdoc or graduate student to successfully work toward his or her desired career. The goal of the IDP is to create a written framework for the postdoc or graduate student to document professional development needs and career goals. Completing the IDP provides a useful opportunity for a postdoc or graduate student to openly discuss career goals with his or her faculty mentor, and work together to create a plan to help the mentee reach those goals.

Are IDPs required?

Beginning on October 1, 2014, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires all Principal Investigators to include in their annual progress report, a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. To that end, the University of South Carolina strongly encourages all graduate students and postdoctoral researchers funded by NIH to complete an IDP each year. Because the IDPs are highly beneficial in career planning and establishing clear milestones, the Office of Research and the Graduate School strongly encourage, even the Post-docs and Graduate Students, currently not supported by NIH grants, to work with their mentors and complete IDPs each year.

What is the NIH policy on IDPs?

The NIH policy on IDPs is available in this initial notice (NOT-OD-13-093), and in this revised notice (NOT-OD-14-113), which states: "NIH encourages grantees to develop institutional policies that employ an IDP for every graduate student and postdoctoral researcher supported by NIH awards. Beginning on October 1, 2014, annual progress reports are required to include a description of whether the institution uses IDPs or not and how they are employed to help manage the training and career development of those individuals."

Who is responsible for compliance with this policy?

It is the responsibility of the NIH awardee (Principal Investigator) to include a report on the use of IDPs in the Research Progress Performance Report (RPPR) starting on October 1, 2014.

How do we get started?

The Office of the Vice President for Research has prepared a toolkit to help faculty and postdoctoral researchers create IDPs.