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  This standardized Postdoctoral Career Development and Progress Assessment will:

 • Encourage your postdoctoral trainee to proactively manage his or her career goals and
      career trajectory.
   • Provide a comprehensive review of your postdoc’s career goals and objectives at the
      beginning of his or her training and increase the probability of your postdoc achieving his or
      her individual career goals.
   • Create a structured yet flexible venue for you to communicate your expectations to your
      postdoc, to establish objective criteria for your postdoc’s success, and to define time and
      resources devoted to your postdoc’s technical and professional skill proficiencies.
   • Allow you to provide ongoing constructive feedback to your postdoc and to implement
      timely performance improvement strategies as needed.
   • Communicate an institutional emphasis on postdoctoral career development and provide you a 
      competitive advantage in attracting the best and brightest postdocs.

   View the Faculty Checklist for a summary and timeline of faculty responsibilities.

STEP 1) Develop a mutually agreed upon Postdoctoral Career
               Development Plan with your trainee.

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A Postdoctoral Career Development Plan is a professional tool which outlines long-term and short-term objectives that you and your postdoctoral trainee have identified as important steps in his or her professional development. Provide prospective postdoctoral trainees a copy of the Postdoctoral Career Development Plan during the recruitment stage. Use this document to guide discussions regarding the prospective trainee’s career goals and objectives.

The Career Development Plan highlights core competencies of a successful postdoctoral experience and includes four specific fields:

      1) Research Accomplishments
      2) Presentation Experience
      3) Publication Record
      4) Professional Development

Each postdoctoral appointment is unique; therefore a 5th field is provided to customize the Career Development Plan to meet your postdoc’s individual career goals. If your postdoc is pursuing an academic career, a 6th field is provided to articulate strategies for establishing his or her research independence.

After a postdoctoral candidate accepts your offer of a postdoctoral appointment, work with him or her to formalize an initial Career Development Plan which your postdoc must submit to the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs at within the first 90 days of his or her appointment. Career Development Plans are required annually and you must provide an updated Career Development Plan for your postdoc, along with the other required paperwork, as a condition of reappointment.

STEP 2) Help your postdoc identify two mentoring team members who
               are well suited to his or her research and career interests.

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Following the practices of your school, help your postdoc identify a minimum of two additional faculty members or professionals to serve as members of his or her mentoring team. Faculty members or professionals outside the university may serve on mentoring teams. These individuals should be accessible to your postdoc and knowledgeable of his or her research and career interests. Your postdoc may be able to recommend individuals to serve on his or her mentoring team. In some cases, a school may assign faculty representatives to serve this role for the school’s postdoc community. For postdocs interested in careers outside of academia, mentoring teams may include professionals from the private or public sectors. Help your postdoc establish initial contact and encourage your postdoc to develop relationships with the members of his or her mentoring team. Members of a postdoc’s mentoring team are to be identified on the postdoc’s Career Development Plan and may change during the course of your postdoc’s training.


Solicit regular feedback from mentoring team members with regard to your postdoc’s scientific and professional maturation. Their input should be taken into consideration when you complete your postdoc's annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment. Ask mentoring team members about the degree of initiative your postdoc has demonstrated with regard to developing a relationship with him or her, observations with regard to your postdoc’s effort in seeking out additional resources to support his or her career development, as well as feedback with regard to your postdoc’s scientific and professional skills.

STEP 3) Schedule an annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment
               review meeting with your postdoc.

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Since a postdoc must receive, at minimum, 90 days notice if his or her appointment is not being renewed, a Progress Assessment review meeting should be scheduled with your postdoc prior to this deadline.


Under Postdoc Guidelines, your postdoc is instructed to provide you and the members of his or her mentoring team with a copy of his or her Postdoctoral Self Assessment 120 days prior to the end of his or her appointment contract (which is 30 days before your deadline to complete his or her annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment). This instrument allows your postdoc to track accomplishments that are aligned with the Career Development Plan’s core competencies (research accomplishments, presentation experience, publication record, professional development) as well as to track the customized criteria articulated within his or her individualized plan. This exercise also provides a structure for your postdoc to document experiences that might otherwise be overlooked or omitted from his or her curriculum vitae, e.g., the writing stage of a manuscript or a grant application in progress.

Your postdoc is also instructed to provide you an updated Career Development Plan with his or her Postdoctoral Self Assessment if you plan to reappoint him or her. Review your postdoc's updated Career Development Plan and prepare to provide him or her feedback during your progress review meeting.

STEP 4) Complete a Postdoctoral Progress Assessment form to
               present to your postdoc at your annual review meeting.

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The Postdoctoral Progress Assessment allows you to determine the degree to which your postdoc has met the expectations established within his or her Career Development Plan with regard to the core postdoctoral competencies: research accomplishments, presentation experience, publication record, and professional development. You are also able to critique his or her progress towards the customized criteria articulated within his or her plan.

The core competencies alone do not encompass the breadth of skills necessary for a successful postdoctoral experience. The Postdoctoral Progress Assessment provides you the additional dimension of assessing your postdoc’s performance with regard to the following factors:

      1) Execution of Research
      2) Knowledge of Literature
      3) Professional Communication
      4) Interpersonal Skills
      5) Self-Improvement

In the event that you determine that your postdoc is in need of significant  improvement in a given competency or performance factor, a clearly defined Performance Improvement Plan and timeline are required. You may use the Performance Improvement Plan template or attach an additional document. If a Performance Improvement Plan is in effect, the Postdoctoral Progress Assessment form allows you to specify a timeline for a follow-up review.

Darlene Zellers, Director of the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences is available to consult with or to assist you in developing a Performance Improvement Plan upon request, as well as being available to mediate any postdoctoral personnel matter as needed.

If you intend to reappoint your postdoc, you should approve or make modifications to your postdoc’s updated Career Development Plan including the Research Independence Plan, if appropriate, during the progress review meeting. You will need to document your approval of your postdoc’s updated Career Development Plan by providing a date on the Postdoctoral Progress Assessment form.


Print the annual Postdoctoral Progress Assessment and acquire your postdoc's signature. If you plan to reappoint your postdoc, you must provide the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences a Postdoctoral Progress Assessment and updated Career Development Plan for your postdoc as part of the postdoctoral reappointment approval process.

If your postdoc completes his or her training or is not being reappointed, please provide the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences an Outcome Summary form along with your postdoc's final Postdoctoral Progress Assessment and Employee Record (ER) upon termination. If your postdoc has accepted other employment, he or she is instructed to provide you a completed Outcome Summary form during your final progress review meeting.

The Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences will prompt you with regard to deadlines.

Electronic forms are to be forwarded to

For general questions or assistance, contact the Center for Postdoctoral Affairs in the Health Sciences at
                                         or (412) 648-8486.

For referrals or consultations with regard to specific postdoctoral personnel matters, contact:
                                                  Darlene Zellers, PhD, Director
                                                  Tammy Dennis,  Postdoctoral Affairs Coordinator