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Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows in the
Physical, Biological, and Health
Sciences and in Engineering at the
University of Pennsylvania

April 24, 2002

brackets indicate deletions, underlines indicate insertions

This policy applies to all three categories of postdoctoral fellows that are identified in the payroll system of the University, based upon funding source: postdoctoral researcher (supported from a research grant), NRSA-postdoctoral fellow (supported by an individualized or institutional National Research Service Award), and postdoctoral fellow (supported by a private foundation or non-profitable charitable organization).

Preamble

Postdoctoral fellows (PDFs) come to the University for further training in their chosen discipline. An individual who has been designated as a PDF by her/his School receives training conducted in an apprenticeship mode, where she/he is working under the supervision of an established faculty member who serves as a mentor. As dictated by the nature of the program, the fellow may be undertaking scholarship, research, service, and teaching activities, all of which provide training essential for career development. Because education is a pre-eminent mission of the University and because PDFs are professionals in training, it is important that the programs for postdoctoral fellows are designed to advance their careers, in addition to contributing to the mission of the unit in which they are working. The Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows is designed in recognition of this distinctive position of postdoctoral fellows within the University community.

Appointment and Resignation

Letter of Appointment

When a faculty member makes a firm offer of appointment to a postdoctoral [fellow] candidate, a letter should be written to the candidate prior to commencement of duties. This letter should set forth at least the basic terms of appointment including the period of appointment (dates of appointment), the [stipend] compensation level, all included benefits and a statement that the [fellow's] candidate's appointment is subject to all University policies, and be accompanied by a copy of the Patent Policy and the corresponding Participation Agreement. If the appointment is renewed or extended, that action should be documented by a letter, which includes the foregoing information.

The candidate should be required to return a countersigned copy of each letter of appointment or renewal indicating acceptance of the terms set forth, as well as a signed Patent Policy Participation Agreement. The letters (countersigned copies) and signed agreement should be placed in a permanent file kept in the office of the appropriate Department. (If the faculty member is not affiliated with a specific department, the file may be kept in the office of the Institute or Center with which the faculty member is associated.) The letters of appointment and renewal should indicate whether the mentor has funding in hand to fulfill the terms of the appointment; if not, the letter should indicate the duration of assured funding. When the appointment is to be coterminous with external funding, research grant, contract, training grant, etc., that fact should be included in the letter of appointment, including the end date of the funding even when renewal is expected. A notice of termination should be given in writing at least three months prior to the end of appointment.

[Obligations of Postdoctoral Fellows]

[Postdoctoral fellows have certain obligations to their mentor, the laboratory in which they are working, the Department with which they are associated, the grantor whose funds support them, and the University. These obligations include but are not limited to: (i) the conscientious discharge of their research responsibilities; (ii) conformity with ethical standards in research; (iii) 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; (iv) observation of appropriate guidelines regarding human subjects if applicable; (v) open and timely discussion with their mentor regarding possession or distribution of materials, reagents, or records belonging to their laboratory, and any proposed disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications; (vi) collegial conduct towards coworkers and members of the research group; (vii) compliance with all applicable University policies. All data and research records generated in University laboratories remain the property of the University.]

Proof of Doctoral Degree

Eligibility for appointment as a postdoctoral fellow requires an advanced degree, PhD, MD, or equivalent. It is the intent of the University of Pennsylvania that international fellows have advanced degrees which are equivalent to those provided in domestic institutions in order to qualify for appointment as postdoctoral fellows. It is the responsibility of the fellow to provide transcripts which certify that she/he has received her/his degree, and it is the responsibility of the mentor to be sure that this documentation is satisfactory and that it is included in the trainee's file attached to the letter of appointment. If the trainee has completed the requirements for the PhD but has not yet received her/his degree, then she/he should supply documents certifying that the thesis has been approved and indicating the date when the degree is expected to be conferred; this special exception applies only to trainees receiving their degrees from domestic institutions.

[Stipend Level]

[Minimum stipend levels for postdoctoral fellows are to be the NIH recommended postdoctoral stipend levels.*]

[If these minimal levels of compensation cannot be offered, a proportional (%) appointment should be made to clearly indicate that the appointee is entitled to seek and perform additional University services (teaching, diagnostic laboratory, technical) up to the recommended annual level of compensation.]

Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows

(continued from page 9)

Terms of Appointment

According to current University policy, no doctoral postgraduate can serve at the University of Pennsylvania for more than five years at the status of Postdoctoral Fellow.

Compensation Level

Minimum compensation levels for postdoctoral fellows are set annually by the Vice Provost for Research, in consultation with the Provost's Council on Research, representing all of the Schools of the University. If these minimal levels of compensation cannot be offered, a proportional (%) appointment should be made to clearly indicate that the appointee is entitled to seek and perform additional University services (teaching, diagnostic laboratory, technical) up to the mandated annual level of compensation.

Postdoctoral Notice of Resignation

When a postdoctoral fellow chooses to resign from her/his position prior to the end of the appointment period, it is expected that she/he will provide at least one month's notice.

Benefits

Health Insurance

[Postdoctoral fellows] PDFs must have health insurance. [Postdoctoral fellows] PDFs are eligible to receive single person health insurance, as provided under a basic University of Pennsylvania Group Health Insurance Plan. This benefit should be paid as an addition to the [stipend] compensation and no premium should be deducted from the [stipend] compensation of the postdoctoral fellow. If the [fellow] PDF elects family coverage, the difference between the single and family premium [will be deducted from the fellow's stipend] can be paid from one of three sources. It can be deducted from the PDF's compensation; it can be paid by the funding source if it is an allowable expense; or it can be paid by the unit to which the PDF is recruited. If the [fellow] PDF elects to waive health insurance coverage through the University, she/he must certify that she/he has alternate insurance which provides at least comparable coverage.

[New Child Leave]

[Postdoctoral fellows are eligible to receive up to six weeks' new child leave with full pay, paid from the same source as the stipend.]

Vacation Time

PDFs are eligible for 16 work days paid vacation leave per appointment year including University holidays. If the PDF elects to work during a University holiday they may take the vacation at another time. Vacation leave is not cumulative from one appointment year to the next. All vacation leave must be approved in advance by the mentor.

Sick Leave

Postdoctoral Fellows may continue to receive stipends for up to 15 calendar days of sick leave per year. Sick leave is not cumulative from one appointment year to the next. Under exceptional circumstances, this period may be extended at the discretion of the mentor. Mentors may require medical verification by a physician for absences longer than three consecutive sick days.

New Child Leave

Postdoctoral fellows are eligible to receive up to 30 calendar days new child (up to 2 years of age) leave with full pay, paid from the same source as the compensation, supplemented with up to 15 calendar days vacation or sick leave if available.

Terminal Leave

A period of terminal leave is not permitted.

Obligations and Responsibilities

Obligations of Mentors

Mentors' responsibilities include: (i) developing a mutually defined research project; (ii) encouraging PDFs to present their work, and to publish their results in a timely fashion; (iii) encouraging PDFs to acquire and enhance their knowledge and technical skills as dictated by their current and future needs; (iv) encouraging PDFs to apply for training and research support as appropriate; (v) meeting regularly with their PDFs to discuss progress in their research; (vi) providing an annual review of performance; (vii) insuring that PDFs are aware of University policies regarding postdoctoral training; (viii) providing career counseling.

Obligations of Postdoctoral Fellows

Postdoctoral fellows have certain obligations to their mentor, the unit in which they are working, the Department with which they are associated, the grantor whose funds support them, and the University. These obligations include but are not limited to: (i) the conscientious discharge of their research responsibilities; (ii) conformity with ethical standards in research; (iii) compliance with good scholarly practice including the maintenance of adequate research records; (iv) observation of appropriate guidelines regarding human subjects and due observation of University standards regarding use of isotopes, chemicals, infectious agents, animals, and the like, if applicable; (v) open and timely discussion with their mentor regarding possession or distribution of materials, reagents, or records belonging to their unit, and any proposed disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications; (vi) collegial conduct towards coworkers and members of the research group; (vii) compliance with all applicable University policies.

Training

Orientation

A [standard] compendium of information should be given to each postdoctoral fellow upon arrival at the University. This compendium should be available on the University's website and could include a registration form to be completed by the postdoctoral fellow, a copy of these guidelines, [the Faculty Handbook, the Patent Policy, the telephone directory,] conflict of interest and financial disclosure policies, intellectual property policies, Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research, parking policies, a clear statement about benefits, the current City, Commonwealth, and Federal taxation policies, sources of information within the University, explanation of the mediation services available. Preferably, periodic orientation sessions should be provided for all new postdoctoral fellows. The departments should arrange e-mail accounts for their postdoctoral fellows [and for orientation necessary to use the e-mail account].

Training Program Elements

Postdoctoral fellows are considered to be professionals in training. One goal of their professional experience at Penn is to provide training relevant to the responsible conduct of research. Such training should include the following elements, as appropriate to the individual trainee: (1) data management, ownership of intellectual property and tangible research materials; (ii) mentor/trainee responsibilities; (iii) publication practices and responsible authorship; (iv) peer review; (v) rights of collaborators; (vi) human subject research; (vii) research involving animals; (viii) research misconduct; (ix) conflict of interest; and (x) compliance with existing Federal and University policies.

Miscellaneous

Application for Grants

Each school should set a policy about the rights of postdoctoral fellows to apply for grants as Principal Investigator. If the school policy permits such applications, it is suggested that there be a requirement for approval by a knowledgeable tenured faculty member as well as the usual approval by department chair and dean on the transmittal form.

Mediation Services

It is recognized that from time to time disagreements may arise between postdoctoral fellow and mentor. Postdoctoral fellows should be clearly informed about the options which they can exercise under such circumstances. In particular, they should be made aware of services available through the ombudsmen in individual Schools and through the office of the Ombudsman in the University [and in the School of Medicine (separate office)].

[Application for Grants]

[Each school should set a policy about the rights of postdoctoral fellows to apply for grants as Principal Investigator. If the school policy permits such applications, it is suggested that there be a requirement for approval by a knowledgeable tenured faculty member as well as the usual approval by department chair and dean on the transmittal form.]

[________________ ]


[*For example, in 1995 these levels were:]
[$19,608--from 0 to less than 12 months of prior postdoctoral experience]
[$20,700--from 12 to less than 24 months of prior postdoctoral experience]


Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 33, May 7, 2002

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
May 7, 2002
Volume 48 Number 33
www.upenn.edu/almanac/

A memorial gathering will be held at noon today, in remembrance of Shannon Shieber who was killed four years ago today.

This year's Perkins Award goes to a long-time member of the GSFA faculty.
The School of Veterinary Medicine awards to seven members of its faculty.
The Penn's Way 2002 campaign raised over $400,000.
Speaking Out on Bicyclists vs Pedestrians, and Convenience vs. Confidentiality.
Death of Dr. Frederic Roll, emeritus professor of civil engineering.
Reports from the Senate Committee on the Faculty as well as the Senate Committee on Administration, along with Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research and Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows.
Two faculty are named to the National Academy of Sciences and one to AAAS.
The expanded PENNCard Policy covers emergency events.
The Three-Year Academic Calendar covers through 2004-2005.