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Postdoctoral Research/Research and Teaching Appointments

At Georgia Southern University, postdoctoral research and teaching appointments emphasize scholarship and continued research training for individuals who have recently completed doctoral degrees.  Postdoctoral Research and/or Teaching Associates are engaged in all aspects of research and scholarship, an essential component to the University’s academic research mission.

Postdoctoral research, and research & teaching appointees, 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, and constructive experience for the research/research & teaching appointee, by emphasizing the shared commitment and responsibility of the institution, the faculty, and the scholar. 

These individuals will be 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 in a variety of disciplines.


Guidance on Post-Docs

The purpose of this policy is to define the terms and conditions related to the recruitment, appointment, and employment of all Postdoctoral Research Associates at Georgia Southern University. All Postdoctoral Research Associates are subject to all other applicable University System of Georgia (USG) and Georgia Southern University (GS) policies and procedures. 

DEFINITIONS

The National Postdoctoral Association defines a postdoctoral scholar (“postdoc”) as: “an individual holding a doctoral degree who is engaged in a temporary period of mentored research and/or scholarly training for the purpose of acquiring the professional skills needed to pursue a career path of his or her choosing.” 

An appointee employed by Georgia Southern University must meet the following criteria:

  • The appointee must have earned a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate in a field directly related to the assigned area of responsibility;
  • The assigned responsibilities of the appointee must be research and/or teaching and/or scholarship;
  • The appointment must be full time, limited term; and
  • The assigned area of research and/or scholarship must be in preparation for a full-time academic and/or research career.
TermDefinition
Postdoctoral Research/Teaching AssociateClassified as an employee of the University receiving a salary for required services. While he/she are in training as he/she perform teaching or work on a research project, this training is secondary to his/her primary role as an employee. This enables the University to provide essential services and benefits, including employee health insurance, workman’s compensation, and otherbenefits.
Postdoctoral Research/Teaching FellowPrimarily have educational or training status. A fellow is paid a stipend for which no service is required in return and therefore no taxes are withheld nor is the individual entitled to fringe benefits. The stipend is administered by GS and is funded by a sponsored award (e.g., an HRSA postdoctoral fellowship training grant is awarded to GSURSF and administered by GS). Fellows also have access to GS-related services (e.g., parking, library, recreational services, computer, and email access, group health insurance benefits available to graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows, workman’s compensationetc.).
Postdoctoral Research/Teaching Fellow-AdjunctPrimarily has educational or training status. Fellow-Adjunct is paid a stipend for which no service is required and therefore no taxes are withheld. The stipend is paid directly to the recipient by the external agency. He/she is appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow-Adjunct for the purposes of providing GS-related services (e.g., access to parking, library, recreational services, computer and email access, group health insurance benefits available to graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows, but not workman’s compensation etc.).

EXPECTATIONS

The University. Postdoctoral Research Associates are primarily funded from university-administered grants or contracts, though other sources of funding (e.g. E&G funds, recovered F&A costs) may be used for limited and defined appointments. Appointees/Associates are considered employees of the University and receive salary for required services. The University will also provide services and benefits required for all benefitted employees of the University.

The Department. The department will serve as the hiring unit and will provide a mentor who is a faculty member in the department under which the appointee is assigned. This faculty mentor will supervise the research and/or scholarship of the appointee and will be responsible for guiding and monitoring the work and training program. Faculty mentors should provide the Postdoctoral Research Associate with a written description of assigned duties and expectations, as in a job description, and should administer formal evaluations annually, as is required for all employees. 

The Mentor. The postdoctoral research appointee should be supervised by a mentor who is a full-time faculty member in the unit to which the postdoctoral research appointee is assigned. Faculty mentors are responsible for guiding and monitoring the work and advanced training of postdoctoral research appointees. In that role, at the time employment or training begins, faculty mentors should provide the postdoctoral research scholar with a written description of assigned duties and expectations together with a description of the goals and objectives of the training program. Faculty mentors should regularly and frequently communicate with postdoctoral research appointees, provide regular and timely assessments of performance at least annually, and provide career advice and job placement assistance. Faculty mentors are expected to create and monitor mentoring plans if required by a funding agency, as well as supervise Responsible Conduct of Research Training.

The Postdoctoral Research Associate.  The appointee should have a full understanding of assigned duties and adhere to ethical standards in compliance with all University policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, guidelines for ethics, intellectual property, research misconduct, and research compliance for biohazards, human subjects, or animal subjects.  Appointees will adhere to applicable federal regulations concerning postdoctoral appointments. Appointees should communicate regularly and frequently with faculty mentors regarding research progress, distribution of materials, or any disclosure of findings in accordance with required publication of research and/or scholarship in the assigned area during the period of the appointment.  Prior to assuming duties, all appointees will be required to pass a background investigation and educational verification. 

The University has adopted the following set of performance expectations:
  1. conscientious discharge of assigned duties;
  2. adherence to ethical standards, which prior to assuming duties, includes a background investigation;
  3. compliance with best practices in teaching and/or laboratory use, and recognized professional, discipline specific and university standards;
  4. open and timely discussion with the mentor regarding research progress, distribution of materials and supplies as required, or any disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications;
  5. collegial conduct toward coworkers;
  6. publication of research or scholarship, scholarly activity, and/or submission of grant applications during the period of the appointment, in consultation with his or her mentor; and
  7. compliance with all sponsor, GS, and USG policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, observation of established guidelines for research involving biohazards, human subjects, or animals, as well as GS’s Policy on the Responsible Conduct of Research Training.

COMPENSATION AND CLASSIFICATION

Georgia Southern University believes that Postdoctoral Research Associates should be compensated at a level appropriate to their advanced education, academic discipline, and training. In some disciplines, external funding agencies provide salary guidance e.g., the National Institutes of Health publishes guidelines for minimum salary annually, providing a standard base for postdocs: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-18-175.html.

Postdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching Associates must be compensated a minimum annual salaryas set by the NIH minimum salary for the current year. Training grants and fellowships administered through GS/GSURSF must include a minimum stipend for Postdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching Fellows from the same source. For Postdoctoral Research/ Research & Teaching Fellow Adjuncts, the terms of theaward will dictate stipend amount and any increases; these are outside the jurisdiction of the university. In cases where the fellow adjunct stipend amount is less than this minimum, the university expects the appointing unit to provide the difference.

All departments will use the BCAT assigned to all postdoctoral positions with a general position summary for classification purposes. Postdoctoral Research Associate salaries will be paid in conjunction with the assigned classification band for all postdoctoral positions; and will be justified according to field of study, research requirements, and available funding.  Any salary offer made above the maximum assigned for the pay band requires justification and written approval from the Provost, to be placed in the appointee’s file.

RECRUITMENT/DIRECT APPOINTMENT

All Postdoctoral Research Associate positions will be recruited through the Department of Human Resources and will follow the recruitment process maintained for the hiring of all employees of Georgia Southern University. The minimum posting period for postdoctoral research positions will be ten (10) days, or an amount of time agreed upon between the hiring department and the Office of Human Resources. Exceptions for a direct appointment of a Postdoctoral Research Associate may be made with written approval from the Dean and Provost on behalf of the department. A letter of offer will be sent to each appointee by the Office of Employment and will include annual compensation and terms of employment; this letter is not a contract or promise of continued employment with the University. 

The recommended term of appointment for all Postdoctoral Research Associate positions at Georgia Southern University is five (5) years.  This term refers to total time spent at GS as a Postdoctoral Research Associate and does not include time spent at the University as an undergraduate or graduate student.  This term of appointment is subject to extended family or medical leave and will be treated the same as all other employees of the University. Postdoctoral Research Associates will automatically be terminated after a five-year term is complete, unless extended by mutual agreement, or unless the funding source is terminated.  There may be additional one (1) year extensions applied to a postdoctoral research position with written approval from the Provost.  These exceptions are given in rare cases, and with strong justification made by the department based on the need to complete additional research. In this case, a Personnel Action (PA) form must be submitted by the hiring unit to Human Resources for an additional year to be added to the term of employment. All Postdoctoral Research Associates will serve in a provisional status for the first six (6) months of their employment.  Any employee of Georgia Southern University may be terminated during the provisional period at any time, and in accordance with university policy. Postdoctoral Research Associates have access to the same appeal policy as is granted to all employees of the University.

RECORDS

As with other University employees, all Postdoctoral Research Associates are required to attend on-boarding as scheduled by Human Resources. All forms and documents should be completed, and required identification presented at the time of employment. Once all records have been obtained, Postdoctoral Research Associates will receive an Eagle ID and parking pass, a Georgia Southern staff/faculty email account, and access to the campus library, recreational facilities, and other relevant physical facilities.

BENEFITS

Health Insurance. Postdoctoral Research Associates are benefitted employees of the University and may take advantage of the employee benefit package consisting of group health, dental, and life insurance, as well as retirement plan options for all regular employees.   All University employees are covered by workers’ compensation.

Leave. The leave policy will be the same as for all full time University employees. All accumulated annual leave must be utilized before the appointee vacates the position.

RETIREMENT PROGRAM

Postdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching Associates have the option of participating either in the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia or an Optional Retirement Plan (ORP). Postdoctoral Research/Research & Fellows and Fellow Adjuncts can use institutional administrative allowance funds to make voluntary payments into other individually selected retirement plans only when sponsors allow such expenditures. No institutional retirement contributions can be made. No institutional administrative allowance funds in a GS restricted account can be transferred to a Fellow’s retirement account without verification provided by Human Resources and the Office of Research Accounting that the sponsor permits such payments from such funds.

TERMINATION

A Postdoctoral Research Associate may be terminated prior to the five-year appointment term if any of the following occur:

  • If salary is supported by non-E&G funding, the Postdoctoral Research Associate appointment is contingent upon the availability of external funds. If funds become unavailable, for any reasonwhatsoever, the appointment may be terminated or not renewed; in such cases, the appointee will be given appropriate notice.
  • If salary is supported by any source other than E&G funding, an appointment is contingent upon satisfactory performance as described previously, except that the appointment may not extend beyond the initial term of the appointment, including applicable extension(s) approved by the Provost.
  • Failure by the appointee to adhere to the expectations of his or her assignment; amount of notice given will be decided by the department and with notification to the Provost.
  • Violation of University policies and procedures, or failure to adhere to ethical standards by the appointee; immediate termination will occur in these such cases.

Summary Table of Postdoctoral Research Position Details

 Postdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching AssociatePostdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching FellowPostdoctoral Research/Research & Teaching Fellow Adjunct
Term of Appointment5 years max.5 years max.5 years max.
CompensationSalaryStipendStipend
Awards administered byGSURSF (external sponsors)GSURSF 
Required Minimum SalaryCurrent minimum standard(100% EFT)Current minimum standard(100% EFT)Set by sponsor with supplement by unit if less than Current minimum standard (100% EFT)
Income Tax OwedYesYesYes
Income Tax WithheldYesNoNo
GS Services (library, etc.)YesYesYes
Background InvestigationRequiredRequiredRequired
Right-to-Know TrainingRequiredRequiredRequired
Responsible Conduct of Research TrainingRequiredRequiredRequired
Laboratory Safety TrainingRequiredRequiredRequired
Retirement BenefitsTRS or ORP(none)(none)
Health InsuranceEmployeeIndividual insurance offeredIndividual insurance offered
Employer ContributionStateAccording to sponsor(sponsor)
Annual Leave110 hours/month (unless on academic payroll)According to sponsor funding guidelines
Sick Leave18 hours/monthAccording to sponsor funding guidelines

Consistent with other sponsor funded positions, there is no leave payout after the sponsor funded position ends. Accrued paid time off (vacation and sick leave) must be used during the time of the postdoctoral fellowship; accrued leave may not be paid upon termination of employment or taken after the end of the funding period.

Last updated: 9/2/2020