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Postdoctoral Scholar Appointments and Reappointments

This page details the appointment/reappointment process, key points, the postdoc leave policy, information for new postdocs, and key functions and expected performance.


There are two classifications of postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt: Postdoctoral Scholar, Research and Postdoctoral Scholar, Trainee.  Postdoctoral Scholar, Research (PDS Fellow) is a position funded by the mentor’s research grants.  The Postdoctoral Scholar, Trainee (PDS Trainee) is funded by training grants and individual fellowships.  The job categories of Research Associate and Senior Research Associate still exist, but these staff positions are for individuals who are no longer considered in training or transitioning to independence. If the PI and the postdoc want the postdoc to stay longer than five or six years or be given a “promotion,” then the postdoc can be appointed as Senior Research Associate or as a Research Assistant Professor if the person wants to become somewhat independent and be able to serve as a PI on grants.

The appointment and re-appointment processes are virtually identical.  To begin the appointment process, e-mail the information below to the Chair's Assistant.  For the re-appointment process, you'll be prompted to begin the process through an e-mail by either the Chair's Assistant or the Redcap system.  Once prompted, send the following information in an e-mail to the Chair's Assistant (no formal letter is required):

  • Name of the postdoc or proposed postdoc
  • Appointment length (one year or less) including effective date
  • Salary (Click  here for recommended salary)
  • Grant or funding source including grant title, number, and center number
  • Percentage of salary covered by each funding source ( New as of May 2018 )
  • Postdoc's updated CV

The  RCR form  can still be completed and sent to the Chair's Assistant to be uploaded into the system.

The Redcap system will prompt the postdoc to complete the online IDP and self-assessment.  The system will then give the postdoc an access code that the faculty member will use to access the IDP and enter his or her comments.

Once all information is gathered, the appointment/reappointment process will be completed by the  Office of Postdoctoral Affairs  (OPA) in the Graduate School.   


Key Points

  • In general, the OPA will not allow retroactive appointments.  If you believe that a retroactive appointment is necessary, please explain why in your request e-mail.
  • In general, postdoc appointments are not to exceed five years total, whether at Vanderbilt or another institution.  If you would like to request additional time for your postdoc, please explain why in your request e-mail.  In some cases, the PI can discuss with the department Chair as to whether or not the postdoc can be appointed as a Research Assistant Professor.
  • If a postdoc has served as a postdoc before coming to Vanderbilt, that time will count towards the postdoc's five years.


Leave Policies for Postdocs

Click here for leave policies for postdocs.


For New Postdocs

The OPA now offers a monthly orientation session for new postdocs.  Ideally, a postdoc should attend the session that is scheduled right after his or her start date.  The orientation sessions are held every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 9:00 - 10:30 am in 010 Alumni Hall.  The Chair's Assistant will register the new postdoc for a session and will communicate the sign-up to the postdoc and PI.

Postdoc Scholars, Research will also attend a benefits orientation conducted by Human Resources.  These sessions are held every Monday from 1:00 - 3:00 pm in the HR Training Room, 10th floor, Baker Building (110 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203).  There is a parking garage right next to the Baker Building. The Chair's Assistant will also register the new postdoc for this session.  Ideally, the new postdoc will attend the session scheduled right after his or her start date. 


Key Functions and Expected Performances:

1.  The appointee must have been recently awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g.,Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field.

2.  The appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship. Pursuit of basic, clinical, or translational projects is allowed so long as effort is focused primarily on research.    

3.  Transition to career independence is expected through the development of professional skills that enable the postdoc to actively pursue a career of his/her own choosing.

4.  The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career.

a. Each year the postdoc and his/her mentor jointly develop a plan for the coming year, which incorporates the postdoc’s career and training goals and the mentor’s research goals in a mutually beneficial way.

5.  The appointee works under the supervision of at least one senior scholar who actively promotes the postdoc's professional development.

6.  The appointee may provide supervisory responsibility as determined by his or her mentor.

a. The appointee may mentor and teach undergraduates and graduate students in developing projects and on specific techniques and protocols.

b. The appointee may train and supervise support and technical staff and graduate students as appropriate.

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, in consultation with his or her mentor.

8.  Postdoctoral scholars may be funded from a variety of sources, including individual National Research Service Awards (NRSAs), NIH training grants, or federal or privately-funded research grants.

9.  The appointment is not expected to exceed five years except in unusual circumstances.



Page updated 7/27/2018