Individual Development Plan

For Higher Degree by Research Candidates

By focussing on your skills, strengths, values, interests, development and career needs your IDP is a great tool to help you to understand the bigger picture of you!

It’s also an engagement tool for you to use in communications with your supervisors and mentors as you move through your candidature and help you to meet your research and professional goals.

Your IDP will help you to identify the wide range of opportunities available to meet your goals.

The information below guides you through the process of creating your own IDP.

  • Is an IDP relevant for me?

    How you use the IDP and the areas you choose to focus on will naturally depend on where you are in your individual life, academic and career journey. HDR students come to study at Charles Sturt with uniquely different experiences, skills, and employment histories and it is up to you to determine your research and career development needs. The IDP is not intended to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ document but a guide to help you to assess and plan for your individual skills and professional development needs.

    You may choose to write a plan that covers research and career goals, or just research goals. The onus is on you to:

    • engage in the IDP process;
    • seek advice from your supervisory team and others if appropriate;
    • write and maintain your plan; and
    • undertake the actions to achieve your goals.

    The IDP should ideally be revisited throughout your candidature to update and refine as goals change or come into focus, and to record progress and accomplishments.

    You should begin to engage in the IDP process within the first three to six months of your candidature, and revisit your IDP on an annual basis.

  • Why is having an IDP important?

    For most HDR students their research and academic work is just one part of a busy and demanding life.  As a result, some HDR students have difficulties in managing their time, keeping their candidature on track, achieving milestones and undertaking the additional skills and training they might need over their candidature.

    Studies have shown that individuals who perform structured planning are more likely to:

    • meet their academic goals;
    • keep on track for a timely completion; and
    • achieve greater career success and satisfaction.

    Recent studies have also shown that around half of all research graduates will find employment outside of academia in the industry, government and community sectors. Career planning enables you as an individual to take conscious control of your professional life by identifying career aspirations and goals, recognising and recording your skills and achievements, and prioritising and planning your professional development activities.

  • A guide to developing your IDP ...

    The development, implementation and revision of the IDP requires a series of steps and an ongoing discussion that should ideally be conducted between you and your supervisory team and it should reflect your goals and training needs. We suggest you use the following five basic steps to develop your IDP.

    The five steps of your IDP

    Step 1

    Conduct a self-assessment/reflection 

    in relation to your research goals, academic writing needs and skills, and other career or personal objectives.

    • Assess skills, talents, strengths and areas requiring development
    • Outline long-term career aims and objectives

    Step 2

    Survey opportunities

    with your supervisor, mentor or careers advisor to:

    • Identify developmental needs
    • Prioritise developmental areas
    • Identify career opportunities

    Step 3

    Set  your goals

    and revise them with input from your supervisor or mentor

    • Set and prioritise short and long term goals
    • Define the approaches and time frame to meet your goals

    Step 4

    Implement the plan

    • Break larger goals into smaller plans with more detailed steps or milestones and timelines
    • Undertake Professional Development training and other activities according to your IDP

    Step 5

    Revise and update

    your IDP as needed including redefining your goals as appropriate

    • Send a copy of your initial IDP to
    • Develop a portfolio to record your skills and training

    Your Individual Development Plan can be created using this template.

Your Individual Development Plan can be created using the guide above with this template - My Individual Development Plan (word doc).

For more information, please contact