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Home » Individualized Development Plan (IDP) - Postdoctoral Researchers

Individualized Development Plan (IDP) - Postdoctoral Researchers

The Faculty of Graduate Studies' IDP is a tool to assist postdoctoral researchers in identifying and developing their goals during their fellowship. It is designed to provide a framework for encouraging active participation among postdocs in professional skills training and career management over the course of their postdoctoral position.

The IDP includes a framework that will help to develop a plan for professional skills, but is intended to be supplemented by ongoing consultations with supervisors and/or relevant individuals across the university and beyond.

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Looking back while planning for the future

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Setting Goals
Clarifying the knowledge and skills you need

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Exploring Opportunities
Developing a strategy for realizing your plan

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Acting on your plan to achieve your goals

Download the IDP: Individualized Development Plan.docx

View Example of a Completed IDP

York University's IDP consists of:

  • A brief overview of the framework for professional skills and competencies at York
  • A self-assessment worksheet for postdocs to reflect on recent activities and future goals
  • An outline of an IDP that postdocs can complete that will address priorities for the postdoctoral position

We recommend revisiting your IDP regularly in order to assess the activities and outcomes of the previous months and to revise your plans and expectations for the future.

To help you to complete the self-assessment and engagement, we encourage you to draw on the information and resources available through the Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Skills (GPPS) webpage. Your supervisor will also be able to provide further information about professional skills opportunities they have planned for your time at the university, as well as suggesting concrete examples of activities and goals that are relevant to your research and career trajectory.

*Note: While your IDP can be kept private, the development of the plan is often a collaborative process that draws on the expertise and feedback from supervisors and/or others. You may draw on different individuals for different kinds of support. Some may support you in understanding how the skills and knowledge you are acquiring as part of your position may translate into other contexts. Others may direct you towards resources that may support you in preparing for specific careers, or may speak more broadly to strategies for well-being and long-term planning.

Reflecting and reviewing your values, interests and skills is an ideal place to begin a discussion of the kinds of professional skills training needed to supplement your research activities, as well as an important step in identifying professional pursuits. The IDP is designed to help structure your reflections and provide an opportunity for a holistic review of current experiences and future goals.

A series of questions are provided related to six competency areas with the intention of prompting reflection, although the format of the response is up to you. Not every area may be equally relevant or important to everyone, but we encourage postdocs to explore every area and engage with gaps and areas for improvement as much as strengths and recent successes.

Your postdoctoral position will provide you with a set of robust development opportunities. These can range from coordinating research projects, to navigating publication opportunities, to securing funding. The series of questions ask you to reflect on your previous experiences as well as future possibilities in relation to the kinds of skills you have already acquired, as well as those you would like to develop during your appointment.

The Graduate & Postdoctoral Professional Skills (GPPS) program is divided into six broad areas to connect you to opportunities and resources that will help you develop your professional plans and goals, and to strategically meet those goals:

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Career Exploration and Planning

  • There exist a variety of versatile career options for postdoctoral researchers. Learning the tools required to evaluate career options, and the skills needed to enter those careers, will greatly assist your transition efforts.
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  • An important aspect of the expertise one acquires as part of graduate study or postdoctoral research is the ability to effectively communicate information through writing and other mediums. What are some techniques for improving written and oral communication to professional colleagues or to laypersons?
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Health and Wellness

  • A variety of campus and community services are available to support and enhance the well-being of scholars during one’s academic pursuits.
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Managing Time and Resources

  • It is difficult to balance the demands of life and work, but there are strategies that can be used to help manage time more effectively.
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Research Dissemination

  • The importance of research isn’t limited to other scholars. What are the tools and techniques that help translate academic work into other contexts?
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  • The skills learned when leading a classroom are skills that can be relevant in many other contexts, such as public speaking, formulating plans and interpersonal skills.

Resources and Contact Information

Who can I talk to about my IDP?

Your supervisor is the individual directly connected to your research and their principal task consists of helping you realize your scholarly potential and professional aspirations. You are encouraged to engage with your supervisor early and often on your IDP to inform your ongoing conversations and career planning.

Career Centre offers one-on-one appointments that can help you identify and pursue career paths both inside and outside academe, improve your job search and discuss career transition opportunities. Contact Susan Pogue, Career Counsellor, directly at to schedule an appointment.

If you do not feel that any of the individuals listed above are most suitable based on your listed goals and/or you would prefer discussing your IDP with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, please contact the Associate Director, Graduate Academic Affairs to discuss further. The Faculty of Graduate Studies can also assist in connecting you with various supports relevant to your individual pursuits.