Postdoc Network Listserv FAQ

Welcome to the Postdoc Network electronic mailing list, an online community of nearly 1000 postdocs, faculty, administrators, professional society representatives, and funding agency officials.

This is a moderated mailing list. Posted messages are archived by date, topic, and author. Messages with attachments will not be forwarded to the list, because attachments cannot be archived. Please include references to articles as URLs within the text of the message.

For those of you who are new to the Postdoc Network, we have compiled below an index of background resources. However, we encourage you to look through the Postdoc Network Web site and the Postdoc Network Resources page for additional reliable information on postdoctoral programs and policies.

And remember: You are not alone. Postdoc offices and associations exist at institutions worldwide! See the Postdoc Network Database of Postdoc Organizations for contact information and links to programs, policies, and articles. Feel free to contact us at the Postdoc Network for an introduction:

FAQ Index National and International Reports and Policy Statements

Definition of 'Postdoc'

Postdoc Benefits

Vacation and Leave Policies

Family and Medical Leave Act

Postdoc Surveys

Postdoc Salary and Stipend Information

Career and Professional Development

Minority Scientists Network

Postdoc Network Resources for Women Scientists

Websites for International Postdocs

National and International Reports and Policy Statements on Postdocs

Includes reports from the European Science Foundation (2001), the National Academy of Sciences (COSEPUP, 2000; Personnel Needs Committee, 2000), the American Chemical Society (2001), the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB, 2001), Association of American Medical Colleges (GREAT, 1998), the Association of American Universities (1998), and the University of California Council of Graduate Deans (1998).

Definition of a PostdocSee the Postdoc Network discussion from June 2002.

Association of American Universities: "(1) A postdoc appointee is a recently awarded Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field; (2) the appointment is temporary; (3) the appointment involves substantially full-time 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; and (6) the appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, etc.); and (7) the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment."

National Science Foundation: "Postdoctorates are individuals with science and engineering Ph.D.s, M.D.s, DDSs, DVMs (and equivalent foreign degrees) who devote their primary effort to their own research training through research activities or study [emphasis in original] in the department under temporary appointments carrying no academic rank."

University of Pennsylvania: "A postdoctoral appointee is a person who has recently earned a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent doctoral degree, and who joins the University of Pennsylvania to perform research full-time under the supervision of a member of the faculty. The position can be held for up to 5 years and is meant to provide additional research and/or scholarly training in preparation for a position in academe, industry, or government."

FASEB (see AAU definition)

History of Postdocs in the U.S., in Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers: A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies (NAS, 2000).

Postdoc BenefitsSee the Postdoc Network Database of Organizations for links to policies at specific institutions.

Leading Change. A Postdoc Network survey of compensation and benefits policies reveals that postdoc offices and associations are a critical factor in the struggle to improve postdoc working conditions.

Strategies to benefit postdocs. The Postdoc Network reports that institutions are developing innovative methods to provide all postdocs with equal benefits, regardless of funding source.

As part of the National Academies study on the postdoctoral experience, COSEPUP conducted a postdoc office survey that asked about available postdoc benefits.

Vacation and Leave Policies

Check the Postdoc Network Database for links to leave policies at specific institutions.

Thinking about taking a vacation? Need to take time off to care for a child? Here are the NIH Leave Guidelines.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), many employees are entitled to a total of up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for the following purposes:

  • the birth of a son or daughter of the employee and the care of such son or daughter;

  • the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;

  • the care of spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition; or

  • a serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her positions.

For text of the FMLA law, regulations, and certifications, see the U.S. Office of Personnel Management FMLA policy webpage.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) developed the elaws Advisors to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under numerous Federal employment laws. Each Advisor includes links to more detailed information that may be useful to the user, such as links to regulatory text, publications and organizations. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Advisor provides information about employee eligibility under FMLA; including valid reasons for leave; employee/employer notification responsibilities; and employee rights and benefits.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is at the top of almost everyone's list of difficult employment laws to administer. Personnel Policy Services editors have analyzed the FMLA statute, the DOL regulations, and recent court cases to provide some practical answers to your difficult questions.

In addition, the American Association of University Professors has published a guidebook on the Family and Medical Leave Act for those who want to understand how the FMLA applies to the academic workplace.

Postdoc Surveys

See the Postdoc Network collection of surveys by, for, and of postdocs.

You may find it interesting to know that NIH has been collaborating with NSF to survey postdoc employment at degree-granting institutions since 1966! The Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering Survey (GSS) obtains data on the number and characteristics of graduate science and engineering students enrolled in U.S. institutions. The results of the survey are used to assess trends in financial support patterns and shifts in graduate enrollment and postdoctorates. GSS collects data from all institutions offering graduate programs in any science, engineering, or health field. Data items are collected at the level of academic department and include full-time graduate students by source and mechanism of support, with data on women; part-time graduate students by sex; and citizenship and racial/ethnic background of all graduate students, including first-time students. In addition, the survey requests data on postdoctorates by source of support, sex, and citizenship, with separate data on those holding first-professional doctorates in the health fields; and summary information on other doctorate nonfaculty research personnel.

Postdoc Stipend and Salary Information

See the Postdoc Network Database of Organizations for links to compensation policies at specific institutions.

The NIH has announced the NRSA stipend levels for 2002! A beginning (level 0) postdoc's stipend is up from $28,260 to $31,092. The 2002 stipend information, along with all of the details and other budgetary changes, can be found online at

The schedule for NRSA stipends can be found at

Career and Professional Development

The Career Development Center for Postdocs and Junior Faculty: A free resource for academic researchers from Science?s Next Wave.

GrantsNet: A free, searchable database of biomedical funding resources.

Science's Next Wave: The place to go for information on the wide range of career options for scientists.

Minority Scientists Network

A Web-based community promoting and disseminating information about careers and education for minorities in science, math, and engineering.

Resources for Women in Science

A selection of Postdoc Network and Next Wave articles on the career progression of women in the sciences. See the Postdoc Network Resources page for additional links.

Web sites for International Postdocs

Also see the Postdoc Network Database for links to international programs at specific institutions.

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