Postdoctoral study encompasses scholarship and training. This
document is designed to inform both postdoctoral scholars and their
faculty mentors of policies unique to individuals with the titles
of Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow.
Appointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar
A Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment will meet the
- The appointee was recently (within five years) awarded a Ph.D.,
equivalent doctorate, or terminal degree (Sc.D., M.D., D.D.S.,
J.D., Pharm.D. etc.) in an appropriate field
- The appointment is temporary
- The appointment is full-time and primarily involves research or
scholarship (less than full-time appointments require
- The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time
academic or research career
- The appointee works under the supervision of one or more
- The appointment may be part of a clinical training program, if
research training under the supervision of a mentor is a primary
purpose of the appointment.
Designated titles for postdoctoral appointments are Postdoctoral
Fellow and Postdoctoral Associate. The title of Postdoctoral Fellow
is used only in connection with awards financed under a
Postdoctoral Fellowship Program of a granting agency outside the
university or through a Postdoctoral Training grant. The title of
Postdoctoral Associate is the usual designation for all other
Fiscal agents and related titles include:
1. Research Foundation (RF) - Postdoctoral Associate;
2. University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF) - Postdoctoral
Associate; Postdoctoral Fellow
3. State University of New York (SUNY) - Postdoctoral
Recruitment and Hiring
All Postdoctoral Associate positions must be posted through
Initial RF and UBF appointments are made for up to a three year
period, but may be extended to five years. An additional one-year
extension may be granted upon justification. State appointments may
only run for three years, but may be extended to four years to
accommodate programs within the School of Medicine. (Appendix A is
a sample state appointment offer letter; Appendix B is a sample RF
appointment letter). For RF and UBF appointments, exceptions may be
granted to meet specific training needs of an individual and
prevailing practice in the discipline only after review by the
Graduate School through its Office of Postdoctoral Scholars. All
federal, state, and sponsor guidelines must be followed.
The minimum full-time annual salary for a Postdoctoral Associate
for a calendar year is $30,000. Any waiver of this minimum salary
limit must be approved by the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars. All
sponsor guidelines take precedent over this policy.
Individual Development Plan and Progress Reports
It is recommended that within the first thirty days of the
appointment, the Postdoctoral Scholar write an Individual
Development Plan (IDP) and discuss this with his/her faculty
mentor. The mentor should meet with the Postdoctoral Scholar at
regular intervals to assess progress and goals. The Postdoctoral
Scholar should provide his/her mentor, at least once annually, with
a progress report of his/her research and professional development
using the suggested format in Appendix C.
A Postdoctoral Associate may be eligible for various types of
leave, consistent with the fiscal agent’s appointment type.
Postdoctoral Fellows are not employees and do not accrue leave.
The Dispute Resolution Procedure is a two-stage (informal and
formal) process. The informal stage of complaint pursuit is open to
all Postdoctoral Scholars. The Postdoctoral Scholar may request the
Office of Postdoctoral Scholars to assist with informally resolving
complaints prior to instituting a formal complaint through official
channels. The first step toward resolving a Postdoctoral
Scholar’s dispute or grievance should be through consultation
between the disputants. The parties should meet and exert a good
faith effort to resolve the dispute amicably. Postdoctoral Scholars
are encouraged to discuss concerns and/or complaints with their
mentors, other senior faculty members, and their Department Chair
to attempt informal resolution at an early stage. The Associate
Dean of Graduate Education (head of the Office of Postdoctoral
Scholars) should have a reasonable opportunity to resolve the
dispute informally before a formal grievance is initiated. This may
involve consultation with the mentor, department chair, and dean of
the school/college, as appropriate.
If the associate dean’s efforts to resolve the dispute are
unsuccessful, he/she will notify the Postdoctoral Scholar of
his/her right to initiate a formal grievance. A formal grievance
may be invoked only after the prospective grievant has first
reported the basis for his/her dispute to the Office of
Formal grievances/complaints may be pursued through the
- Allegations of discrimination or sexual misconduct are handled
through the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Allegations of misconduct of research or intellectual property
issues are handled by the Office of the Vice President for Research
and Economic Development.
- For scholars with the employment title of Postdoctoral
Associate, complaints regarding employment will be handled through
established employee complaint procedures of the fiscal agent.
- For scholars with the appointment type of Postdoctoral Fellow,
complaints regarding employment will be handled through the Formal
Complaint Procedures outlined under Appendix D.
Discontinuation of Appointment of a Postdoctoral Scholar
Discontinuation with Notice
A Postdoctoral Scholar may have his/her appointment ended at any
time, for lack of funding or for other reasons. It is recommended
that sixty calendar days prior written notice be given.
Termination of Appointment for Cause
A Postdoctoral Scholar may have his/her appointment immediately
terminated at any time if he/she is found to have violated the
obligations specified in this policy. Such violations include
egregious actions, such as destruction of experiments, stealing,
sexual harassment, and inappropriate behavior. Managers and
supervisors should use reasonable judgment to decide whether an
employee’s action may be remedied by some form of progressive
discipline (for RF appointments, see the Research Foundation
Progressive Discipline Policy). Discontinuation of appointment for
cause is to be preceded by written notice.
This policy applies to individuals with the title of
Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow.
A postdoctoral scholar who is working
on a particular project. The Postdoctoral Associate has an
employer-employee relationship, receives a paycheck every two weeks
through payroll, payroll taxes are withheld, and may be eligible
for certain benefits consistent with the fiscal agent appointment
A postdoctoral scholar who receives a
stipend in support of their academic study or fellow-initiated
research and/or in recognition of the recipient’s promise as
a research or teaching scholar. A Postdoctoral Fellow is not
considered an employee and taxes are not withheld (exceptions may
apply to non-resident aliens) although they may be entitled to
certain benefits. This title is used only for appointments with
awards financed under a fellowship or training program.
An individual who has received a
doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and
defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the
professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his
or her chosen career path (National Institutes of Health/National
Science Foundation definition). Postdoctoral Scholar refers to
those individuals with the titles of Postdoctoral Associate or
A Principal Investigator (PI) is a
University at Buffalo (UB) faculty or staff member who bears
responsibility for the intellectual leadership of a project. The PI
accepts overall responsibility for directing the research,
financial oversight, and compliance with relevant university
policies and sponsor terms and conditions.
Office of Postdoctoral Scholars
- Provide guidance for postdoctoral scholars.
- Oversee policy and ensure consistent application of this policy
across the university.
- Conscientious discharge of research responsibilities and
assigned duties, as summarized in the letter of appointment and any
subsequent renewals/revisions of the letter of appointment.
- Adherence to ethical standards in research.
- Compliance with good laboratory practice including the
maintenance of adequate research records and observance of
university guidelines regarding use of isotopes, chemicals,
infectious agents, biohazards, disposal of hazardous waste, and
other laboratory practices.
- Observance of established guidelines regarding the use of human
subjects or animals.
- Open and timely discussion with faculty mentor regarding
research progress, distribution of reagents or materials, or any
proposed disclosure of findings on research or technologies,
privately or publicly in oral or written format.
- All research results and data obtained in the course of duties
as a Postdoctoral Scholar are the property of the mentor and the
University at Buffalo, and may not be disseminated or used in any
manner or format without the express permission of the mentor
during the period of postdoctoral association or following the
termination of that association.
- Collegial conduct towards coworkers and members of the research
- Compliance with all applicable university policies and
- Aid the Postdoctoral Scholar in the discharge of the above
- Provide a formal discussion of the Postdoctoral Scholar
progress and performance at least once a year.
- Emphasize education, development of independence in research,
and career advisement.