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I. Definition of a Postdoctoral Appointment 

A Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst shall meet the following definitions: 

  1. The appointee was recently (within five years) awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent in an appropriate field; 
  2. The appointment is temporary (typically less than three years); 
  3. The appointment involves primarily research or scholarship; 
  4. The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career;
  5. The appointment is not part of a clinical training program; 
  6. The appointee works under the supervision of one or more members of the graduate faculty in the university; 
  7. The appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of their research or scholarship. 


II. Policy Governing Postdoctoral Appointments 

  1. The length of appointment should recognize the temporary nature of a postdoctoral appointment and its role in the career development of the appointee. The total time spent by an individual as a Postdoctoral Scholar should not normally exceed six years, including previous appointments as a postdoctoral scholar at other institutions. Exceptions may be made provided that they are consistent with the prevailing practice in the discipline concerned. 
  2. Postdoctoral Scholars must receive a letter of appointment signed by both the faculty advisor and department or program head. This letter must set forth the basic terms of appointment including the dates of appointment, the stipend level, all included benefits, a statement of the duties, expectations, and research responsibilities of the Postdoctoral Scholar, and a statement that the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment is subject to all University policies. The Postdoctoral Scholar must return a countersigned copy of the letter of appointment, which must be placed in a permanent file and stored with the other personnel records for the department. Any renewal of the appointment must include another countersigned letter as described above. 
  3. The University waives the requirement for full searches for Postdoctoral Scholar appointments of less than three years’ duration. (This does not preclude such searches where appropriate.) 
  4. Provision for a standard benefits package at a reasonable cost must be made that includes comprehensive health care but which may otherwise be tailored to the essential needs of a temporary appointment. Such a package would not include retirement benefits, although the option of enrolling Postdoctoral Scholars in portable retirement programs such as TIAA/CREF should be made available for departments wishing to offer such benefits. 
  5. Campus-wide minimum stipend levels shall be set by the Vice Chancellor for Research. Where necessary, higher minimum stipends could be set by departments at levels appropriate to the discipline. 
  6. Existing campus resources for career advising and job placement will be available to Postdoctoral Scholars. 
  7. A Postdoctoral Scholar will not be discharged prior to the terminal date set in the letter of appointment or renewal of appointment, except for just cause. 


III. Obligations of Postdoctoral Scholars 

  1. The conscientious discharge of research responsibilities, as summarized in the letter of appointment or subsequent revisions to or renewals of the letter of appointment. 
  2. Conformity with ethical standards in research. 
  3. Compliance with good laboratory practice including the maintenance of adequate research records and due observation of University standards regarding use of isotopes, chemicals, infectious agents, animals, and the like. 
  4. Observation of appropriate guidelines regarding human subjects if applicable. 
  5. Open and timely discussion with the faculty mentor regarding possession or distribution of materials, reagents, or records belonging to the laboratory, and any proposed disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications. 
  6. Collegial conduct towards coworkers and members of the research group. 
  7. Adherence to all applicable University policies, procedures, and regulations (e.g., intellectual property, maintenance of data, etc.). 


IV. Obligations of the Institution 

  1. The faculty sponsor or mentor will aid the Postdoctoral Scholar in the discharge of the above obligations and provide regular evaluation (at least annually) of their performance. 
  2. The Office of Vice Chancellor for Research will be responsible for monitoring postdoctoral policies to assure their consistent application across the institution.

Source: Sen. Doc. No. 01-021