Individual Development Plan (IDP) Policy

February 3, 2017 version

The LSU Graduate School has adopted a policy that requires all graduate students on NIH funding, and encourages all graduate students, to discuss an Individual Developmental Plan (IDP) with their faculty mentors on an annual basis. LSU is committed to graduate training and development.  The IDP plan encourages a mentor-mentee mutual consideration and evaluation of progress achieved during the evaluation period and ensures that defined goals and action plans are in place for a successful graduate training at LSU.

IDP forms are to be completed by mentors and mentees at least once per year to discuss all aspects of research and professional development of the graduate student. An online verification form needs to be filled by both mentor and mentee to verify that the meeting has taken place. Only the date of the meeting is recorded; the IDP and discussions between the mentor and mentee remain private.  A copy of the IDP plan may be kept at the home department of the graduate student. This procedure complies with NIH policy and the National Academies' recommendations, as noted above.

Expectations for Graduate Students

All graduate student appointments are contingent upon the satisfactory academic performance, research (or other work) progress, the availability of funding and programmatic needs. All graduate students, in all disciplines, schools, colleges and centers across the University, must meet the following expectations at all times during their appointment: 

  • Conscientious and satisfactory performance of assigned duties;
  • Adherence to all LSU personal and professional ethical standards and satisfactory laboratory and/or professional practice, if applicable (including but not limited to the receipt of required training on and compliance with all University standards and federal regulations as they relate to responsible conduct in research, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, privacy and human subjects research, animal care and use, laboratory safety, and the use of radioisotopes);
  • Open and timely discussions with the Advisor regarding all aspects of mentored activities (including regular discussions about research (or other work) progress; distribution of reagents or materials; status of any publications, reports or other written drafts; and prompt, advance discussion of any private or public disclosure of findings, techniques or potentially patentable or copyrightable discoveries derived from the student’s research);
  • Collegial conduct towards his or her Mentor, coworkers, staff and other individuals with whom the student interacts;
  • Compliance with all University policies and procedures, including the requirements set forth in this Policy.


Expectations of Advisors

Advisors are responsible for providing advice, guidance and assistance to their assigned graduate students regarding not only their specific research or scholarship goals, but also the students' overall educational experience and future career development goals. Mentors should regularly meet with their students throughout their appointments, and clearly and consistently communicate their goals, objectives and expectations and their assigned tasks and projects. Mentors should encourage graduate students to present their work in national and international conferences and to publish the results of their research or scholarship in a timely fashion, if applicable. They should also help graduate students acquire and enhance their knowledge and skills based on their current and future needs. Finally, to help provide necessary feedback, Mentors are required to provide a written performance evaluation of their assigned graduate students each year.

The Advisor and the Department (or center or other unit) should maintain a departmental file for each student which, at a minimum, should contain copies of the student’s appointment letter, Individual Development Plan (IDP), and annual evaluations. From time to time, the Graduate School may conduct departmental audits to ensure that graduate student files are appropriately maintained.

Annual Performance Evaluation and Individual Development Plans (IDP)

Feedback and constructive criticism are important for a graduate student’s personal and professional growth. Therefore, at the beginning of the appointment, each student will prepare an Individual Development Plan (“IDP”) that identifies his or her academic and professional development needs and career objectives. IDPs also serve as a communication tool between the graduate student and his or her Advisor.  Subsequent years of appointment will require an IDP plan to be made at the beginning of each year.

A written evaluation of each graduate student’s work performance will also be performed on an annual basis. Annual evaluations should be completed no later than thirty (30) days before the anniversary of the graduate student’s appointment date. The Advisor will complete an evaluation form (or a similar document) and discuss it with the graduate student during a meeting held between the Advisor and the student. The Advisor and student should review the evaluation together and then both sign the form. Once the annual performance evaluation is complete and signed by both parties, a copy should be placed in the student’s departmental file.