NSF Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring Plan

If your National Science Foundation submission requests funding to support one or more postdoctoral researchers, your proposal must include a postdoctoral mentoring plan. The mentoring activities that will be provided to the supported postdocs must be described in no more than one page. This plan requirement must be met regardless of whether the postdocs will reside at Kansas State University, at any sub-recipient organization, or any organization participating in a simultaneously submitted collaborative proposal. Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the proposed project will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts review criterion. Mentoring activities suggested by NSF include, but are not limited to:

  • Career counseling.
  • Training.
  • Preparation of grant proposals.
  • Publications and presentations.
  • Guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills.
  • Guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas.
  • Training in responsible professional practices.

Guide and sample plans

Suggested Postdoctoral Mentoring Language for NSF Proposals (PDF)

This excellent guide was produced by the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. It provides general guidelines and gives two example plans. (Note: 1) The first example refers to attachments. These references should be REMOVED because NSF does not allow attachments to the mentoring plan. However, it is good to address having an Individual Mentoring Plan and an Annual Performance review within the mentoring plan itself. 2) The second example can/should be condensed to meet the one-page limit.)

Example plan from the University of Texas, San Antonio (PDF)

This plan is a good basic model.

Resources for postdoctoral fellows

The following resources are available for K-State postdocs. The Office of the Vice President for Research also houses the K-State Postdoctoral Association website.

  • The Office of Research Development, or ORD, offers a series of workshops each semester that are open to postdocs on writing competitive research proposals and on specific funding programs/agencies. Please consult our events calendar to see the topics and dates for these workshops.
  • ORD publishes the Funding Connection, a weekly newsletter of open funding opportunities which includes a section specifically for postdocs. Individual meetings can be scheduled through our office to help postdocs learn to routinely search for funding on their own.
  • The University Research Compliance Office offers a series of training modules on responsible professional practices including the responsible conduct of research.
  • The Graduate Student Council offers professional development events each semester. Graduate students and postdocs who attend at least five of these events are eligible for a GSC Professional Development Certificate.
  • Kansas State University is a sustaining member of the National Postdoctoral Association, or NPA. Both postdocs and their faculty mentors/PIs are eligible for free membership in the NPA, which is an invaluable resource for online professional and career development materials. The association provides program activities in three areas: advocacy and education, resource development, and community building/networking. A welcome letter and instructions for joining as affiliate members are available on the K-State Postdoctoral Association website.