Date Established: 12/3/2008
Date Last Revised: 3/23/2022
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Postdoctoral study encompasses scholarship and training. This policy defines the postdoctoral scholar role and guides the appointment process.
The University at Buffalo (UB, university) is committed to providing a supportive and productive training environment for our community of postdoctoral associates and postdoctoral fellows, hereinafter referred to as postdoctoral scholars. Postdoctoral scholars contribute to the academic community by enhancing the research and education programs of the university. They bring expertise, insights, and creativity that enrich the research and educational environment for all members of the university community, including graduate and undergraduate students. The university strives to provide a stimulating, positive, inclusive, and constructive experience for postdoctoral scholars by emphasizing the shared commitment and responsibility of the institution, faculty, and scholar.
A postdoctoral scholar’s appointment must meet the following conditions:
Designated titles for postdoctoral scholars are Postdoctoral Associate and Postdoctoral Fellow.
A postdoctoral fellow holds a fellowship or traineeship. The fellow may receive payment through the Research Foundation (RF) or directly to the individual from the funding organization (i.e., Postdoctoral Fellow Direct Pay). This will be determined by the established guidelines and regulations of the assigned entity under which the fellowship is governed.
Postdoctoral associate is the usual designation for all other postdoctoral scholars that do not fall under the fellow titles. A postdoctoral associate may receive payment through the RF, UB Foundation (UBF), or State funds.
Postdoctoral fellows and postdoctoral associates are affiliates of the institution and must comply with all UB policies and rules.
All postdoctoral associate positions must be posted through UBJobs, with the exception of those who are transferring to UB when a faculty member of another institution is hired by UB, or for postdoctoral scholars named in a RF administered grant.
The PI may consult with UB Human Resources and other university offices to follow best hiring practices and procedures, as well as guidance on how to achieve inclusion in hiring, education, and research.
For all postdoctoral appointments, the PI or faculty mentor must:
The minimum full-time annual salaries for postdoctoral fellows are typically set by and subject to the sponsor agency guidelines. The compensation for postdoctoral associates is typically guided by the minimum salary thresholds established by New York State and applicable provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), when not predetermined by the sponsored agency. The Postdoctoral Office will monitor such thresholds to indicate the minimum salary limit for a postdoctoral scholar.
Goals of postdoctoral traineeship are to provide advanced research training beyond the doctoral degree and to prepare individuals to follow careers that require expertise in their field. The postdoctoral experience is a unique “apprenticeship” between sponsor and scholar. Faculty sponsors help prepare postdocs for the next step in their careers.
Training is a central component of the postdoc experience. It provides the opportunity for postdoctoral fellows and associates to enhance research skills critical to pursue careers as independent investigators or other related careers. All postdoctoral scholars are expected to actively engage in both training and career development. Many federal agencies and fellowship programs require a training plan for postdoctoral scholars by the PI, which provides for the scholar development. When such is not in place, it is recommended that within the first thirty days of the appointment, the postdoctoral scholars in consultation with their faculty mentor write an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The mentor should meet with the postdoctoral scholar at regular intervals to assess progress and goals. The postdoctoral scholar should provide their mentor, at least once annually, with a progress report of their research and professional development, as well as goals for the next reporting cycle. State-funded postdoctoral scholars who hold a United University Professions (UUP) position with performance program requirements can address the progress report during their performance evaluation. The Office of Postdoctoral Scholars will also provide professional development programs to enhance the postdoctoral training and experience.
For resolution of workplace complaints and disputes, postdoctoral scholars can follow the established UB procedures and regulations. For example, some issues (e.g., sexual harassment, discriminatory allegations, misconduct) may require the direct reporting and intervention of the appropriate UB office (e.g., Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and/or Employee Relations). They may also seek guidance from the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars on how and where to proceed.
Discontinuation with Notice
A postdoctoral scholar may have their appointment ended at any time. It is recommended that the mentor/supervisor provide at least four weeks written notice when funding is expected to end. Less time notice (two to three weeks) could be given for failure to adhere to the required and outlined expectations of the appointment and university-wide guidelines. State-funded postdoctoral scholars covered under UUP contract would follow appropriate guidelines established under such contract.
Termination of Appointment for Cause
A postdoctoral scholar may have their appointment immediately terminated at any time if they are found to have violated the obligations specified in this or any other UB policy. Such violations include egregious actions, including scientific misconduct, 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 must be preceded by written notice and in consultation with the UB Employee Relations Office.
The university hosts postdoctoral scholars in many different departments, schools, and centers. While the university seeks to provide postdocs with the opportunity to continue their academic and research training through on-site practice experience, many aspects of the relationship between the university and its postdocs are also that of an employer-employee relationship. Given the hybrid nature of the association between postdocs and the university, this policy provides guidance on the obligations and expectations of those involved in postdoc training.
This policy applies to individuals with the title of Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow and the faculty who supervise and mentor these individuals.
Individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a defined temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of their choosing. Postdoctoral associates train under the direction and supervision of faculty mentors in preparation for academic or research careers. Postdoctoral Associate and Senior Postdoctoral Associate are titles that can be used for this classification. A senior postdoctoral associate would have three or more years of postdoctoral experience in the field of research or scholarly study. A postdoctoral associate may receive payment through the RF, UBF, or State funds. For the purpose of payment, the postdoctoral associate is considered an employee of the institution and 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 type.
Appointment of a postdoctoral scholar when the postdoc has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study, typically by an extramural agency or intramural resources (internal university programs, university centers, or institutes), and the fellowship or traineeship is paid through an RF account. A postdoctoral fellow is not considered an employee for most extramural funds and taxes are not withheld (exceptions may apply to non-resident aliens) although they may be entitled to certain benefits. The fellow is part of the UB postdoctoral community, with access to the appropriate facilities and resources to conduct scholarly work.
Postdoctoral Fellow Paid Direct
An appointment is made as a fellow paid direct when the postdoc has been awarded a fellowship or traineeship for postdoctoral study by an extramural agency and the agency pays the fellowship or traineeship directly to the postdoc, rather than through the RF. Although the fellow is part of the UB postdoctoral community, with access to the appropriate facilities and resources to conduct scholarly work, they are not considered employees of the institution.
Competitive award of financial support to an individual which provides a stipend and in some cases money for benefits coverage. Although postdoctoral fellowships may be awarded on the basis of a proposed research program, they are not awarded to accomplish a specific statement of work. Postdoctoral fellowships are awarded on a merit basis to assist a scholar in their professional training and development.
Individual with the title of Postdoctoral Associate or Postdoctoral Fellow.
UB faculty or staff member who bears responsibility for the leadership of a project, program, or activity. 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 |
Kristen Ashare, Ph.D.
|Equity, Diversity and Inclusion ||email@example.com|
|March 2022||Updated the policy to: |
● Remove the UBF and special allocation of State funds as payment sources for posdoctoral fellows (Designated Titles)
● Specify that postdoctoral associates may receive payment through the RF, UBF, and State funds (Designated Titles)
● Add an exception to the UB Jobs posting requirement for postdoctoral scholars named in an RF administered grant (Recruitment and Hiring)
● Revise the definition of Postdoctoral Associate to specify that a postdoctoral associate may receive payment through the RF, UBF, or State funds
● Revise the definition of Postdoctoral Scholar to remove the UBF and special allocation of State funds as a payment source
|June 2021||Full review. Updated the policy to: |
● Add an overarching policy statement
● Add the following details regarding the period of appointment:
● Periods that a postdoctoral scholar is on an approved leave of absence may not be counted towards the five-year period; determinations will be made by the Postdoctoral Office on a case-by-case basis.
● In the event that the postdoctoral activities are disrupted by a significant period of time due to unforseen situations at the institution, such time may not be counted towards the five-year period
● In rare circumstances, a one-year extension may be granted on a case-by-case basis based on performance and existence of funding; requests for extensions must be reviewed and approved by the Postdoctoral Office
● Remove appointment and extension periods
● Remove the minimum salary amount
● Remove the Leaves section
● Add the Goals of Postdoctoral Traineeship, Training and Career Development, and Background sections
● Add faculty mentors to the Applicability section
● Add a definition for Postdoctoral Fellow Paid Direct
● Clarify the definitions of Postdoctoral Associate and Postdoctoral Fellow
● Remove Appendices
|December 2013||Updated for minor text changes. |