Postdoc Policies and Guidelines

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Postdoc Office

The Graduate College is the administrative home of the Postdoctoral Scholar Office.

Postdoc Office Mission Statement - A Postdoc appointment is a brief, intense, and pivotal time in one’s career. The mission of the Postdoc Office is to provide the Postdoc Community with support, professional development opportunities and tools to ensure postdocs take full advantage of this time to develop a sustainable and successful career path.

Annie Hawkins
Postdoctoral Officer
Office Hours: Monday - Thursday
or 515-294-0419

or

Ann Guddall
Business Manager
or 515-294-7811

Postdoc Policies

Policies regarding Postdoctoral Scholars can be found in the Graduate College Handbook.

PI and Administrative Guidelines

The Postdoc Office has developed a selection of best practices / resources intended as a guideline for the life cycle of the Postdoctoral Scholar. These can be found on the PI Resources page.

Appointment

The Postdoctoral Scholar is recognized as an ISU D-base appointee, who is appointed at least half-time and is considered to be in preparation for an independent career. The majority of the appointment is to be focused on research and scholarship. In some circumstances, the Postdoctoral Scholar appointee may also teach. In all cases, more than half the appointment must be devoted to scholarship and in no case may teaching responsibilities exceed ¾ of the annual teaching responsibility of an assistant professor in that department.

This appointment is a temporary position under the supervision of a faculty mentor. For this reason, the Postdoctoral Scholar condition of appointment is intermediate between that of graduate assistants and faculty or professional and scientific employees.

Presently, most postdoctoral associates at ISU work for a two to three year period. All postdoctoral scholars must be appointed for a minimum of half time. The Graduate College allows a maximum of five years in this type of appointment.

Extension of the appointment status for more than five years is extremely rare and is allowed only for the most extraordinary circumstances. Requests to extend a postdoctoral appointment beyond five years must be made at least six months prior to the end of the fifth year and preferably sooner.

A Predoctoral Associate Appointment follows the exact same postdoctoral hiring process, stipend scale and benefits. The difference between the two appointment types is the predoc is still in the process of completing the doctorate degree (or equivalent). A Predoctoral Associate must have completed the oral and written preliminary examinations and must be registered for a graduate credit (minimum) each semester. Upon completion of the doctoral degree the position can be transferred to the postdoc level. The predoc appointment time is counted towards the five year maximum postdoctoral appointment.

For more detailed information on Postdoctoral and Predoctoral Associates at ISU, consult the Graduate College Handbook.

Stipend

The stipend level at which a Postdoctoral Associate is appointed should recognize the fact that the individual has earned a doctoral degree. The Graduate College sets a minimum stipend level, but does not set a maximum level.

Based on NIH recommendation of stipend levels for the Postdoctoral Scholars: The stipend level for the entire first year of support is determined by the number of full years of relevant postdoctoral experience when the award is issued. Relevant experience may include research experience (including industrial), teaching assistantship, internship, residency, clinical duties, or other time spent in a health-related field beyond that of the qualifying doctoral degree.

Please note - When the individual has obtained a PhD that is one year or older the Graduate College assumes that one does have other relevant postdoc/professional experience (as defined by NIH – listed above). If this is not the case, then the PI will need to provide justification for the lower amount.

FY 2017

Years of Experience Minimum Stipend
Less than one year $44,100
1 Year $44,700
2 Years $45,300
3 Years $45,900
4 Years $46,500

FY 2018 (Revised and approved, Jan 2017)

Years of Experience Minimum Stipend
Less than one year $46,000
1 Year $46,600
2 Years $47,200
3 Years $47,800
4 Years $48,400

FY 2019 (Proposed, Jan 2017)

Years of Experience Minimum Stipend
Less than one year $48,000
1 Year $48,600
2 Years $49,200
3 Years $49,800
4 Years $50,400

Expectations

It is recommended that at the beginning of the Postdoctoral Scholar’s appointment, the PI/Supervisor establish in writing clear expectations (template), at a minimum, for the Postdoctoral Scholar’s: (a) reporting duties (frequency, level of detail, format, etc.); (b) level of performance; and (c) professional conduct. The Postdoctoral Scholar is thereafter responsible for meeting or exceeding these expectations.

For more detailed information on postdoctoral and predoctoral associates at ISU, consult the Graduate College Handbook.

Evaluations

A practical first step is for a PI to work with a new Postdoctoral Scholar to establish an IDP within the first three-months of the appointment. The Individual Development Plan is an interactive web-based tool that serves as a constructive means of communication between the postdoc and PI and also provides a planning process that identifies both professional development needs and career objectives.

Reviewing the IDP on an annual basis is a good practice. At an administrative level, annual reviews are required. See below for details and timeline. We provide this document for an Annual Review Template that builds on the progress of the IDP. Annual salary increases need to conform to the guidance issued by the Provost’s/President’s office and must be sufficient to meet the minimum for the experience level.

Annual Review

The PI/supervisor shall conduct a performance evaluation with the postdoctoral scholar once a year. Evaluations will be conducted for postdoctoral scholars who are expected to be appointed for more than one year. The review will assess the postdoctoral scholar’s progress to date, strengths and areas needing improvement. Also included will be expectations, activities and goals for the upcoming year.

Postdoc Performance Evaluation Confirmation Form (MS Word Document)

Timeline: March 1 – May 31 / June 1

  1. The annual review confirmation form must be signed by both the PI/supervisor and postdoctoral scholar.
  2. The annual review confirmation form is turned into the home department no later than May 31.
  3. The department will submit the form to the Graduate College Postdoc Office by June 1.
  4. All reviews must occur before determinations can be made regarding the July 1 stipend increase

Stipend Increases

Stipend increases are permitted only on the beginning of the fiscal year (July 1), not anniversary dates. The base stipend increase is determined by both the President / Provost Office annual guidelines (issued early spring) and the stipend table. New Postdocs appointed after May 1, are not eligible for a July 1, stipend increase.

If a PI wishes to not provide a raise due to unsatisfactory performance, then this is possible if: (A) the minimum salary is still met (B) a review has taken place with this evaluation template including the signature of the postdoc, along with an agreed on plan for improvements and (C) the PI will need to submit this documentation to the Graduated College / Postdoc Officer at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Hiring Forms/Procedures

Process - New Appointees

The hiring into postdoctoral positions does not require a specific search.

Once the hiring department/unit has a completed and signed the Postdoctoral and Predoctoral Letter of Intent (the PDF is interactive after downloading), follow these steps.

  1. Initiate the EPA
    • EPA – The following items are needed by the Designated Cutoff Dates in order for a pay check to be processed in time for that month:
      1. EPA’s must arrive at the Graduate College approval que by 5:00 PM
      2. LOI’s and supporting documents (when applicable) must be sent to the Postdoc Officer by 5:00 PM. The LOI and supporting documents may be sent via email and the original LOI via campus mail.

      Friday deadlines - Please turn in items the Thursday before when the deadline falls on a Friday. The Postdoc Officer position is an 80% appointment time with office hours Monday – Thursday.

  2. Obtain Proof of Degree
    • PhD received from Iowa State – If the degree was obtained at ISU, please note the degree date on the LOI in the section marked "Department/Unit/Center Check-Off Items".

    • PhD received at other universities – If the degree was obtained elsewhere, then the Postdoc is required to submit one of the degree verification items to the hiring department and a copy needs to accompany the LOI when submitted. These items may be sent via email.

      Doctoral Degrees Completed in the United States: submit to the hiring department an official transcript or fill out a completed degree verification form (PDF), or an official certification letter from the candidates’ institution (this method applies to candidates who have met all criteria to graduate and are awaiting degree conferral only).

      Doctoral Degrees Completed Internationally: submit to the hiring department an official transcript or diploma, or an official certification letter from the candidates’ institution (this method applies to candidates who have met all criteria to graduate and are awaiting degree conferral only).

  3. Acquire completed Postdoctoral and Predoctoral Information Form (the PDF is interactive after downloading). Please include country code if the Postdoc is not a U.S. Citizen. Please include country code if the Postdoc is not a U.S. Citizen.

  4. Send all required documents: LOI, Proof of Degree, and Information Form to the Graduate College. These items may be sent via email (anniehwk@iastate.edu) and the original LOI via campus mail.

Process - Re-Appointment

If a Postdoc will be reappointed after the initial appointment, please initiate the Postdoctoral and Predoctoral Letter of Intent (the PDF is interactive after downloading) and EPA in a timely manner to ensure no payroll delays.

  • EPA – The following items are needed by the Designated Cutoff Dates in order for a pay check to be processed in time for that month:
    1. EPA’s must arrive at the Graduate College approval que by 5:00 PM
    2. LOI’s and supporting documents (when applicable) must be sent to the Postdoc Officer by 5:00 PM. The LOI and supporting documents may be sent via email and the original LOI via campus mail.

    Friday deadlines - Please turn in items the Thursday before when the deadline falls on a Friday. The Postdoc Officer position is an 80% appointment time with office hours Monday – Thursday.

Additional Compensation

Prior Approval is required on payments for salary above the Postdoctoral research associates base salary. Please submit a request to pay additional compensation to Annie Hawkins at anniehwk@iastate.edu. The request must include:

  • A description of the nature of the work, including if/how the work has been performed in the past
  • An explanation of why it is considered to be clearly outside of the scope of the person's normal duties
  • The amount of the proposed compensation and an explanation of how this amount was determined
  • An estimate of the amount of time that the individual will spend on the activity and the estimated dates of service
  • An explanation of how the person can reasonably carry out his or her full-time job responsibilities during this time period.
  • Whether it is expected that the proposed activity will continue beyond the period for which the compensation is requested

Graduate and Postdoctoral Bridge Funding Program

Goal: The graduate and postdoc bridge funding program provides incentives to enable measured risk taking by PIs and graduate/research programs in recruiting additional Ph.D. students and Post-docs beyond the number for which firm committed funding is already in hand. More Info...

Resignation Process

Non-Renewal of Appointment - PI

In the event that a postdoc appointment will not be renewed, it is recommended as a professional courtesy to provide as much notice as possible prior to the end the appointment. This time period should allow the postdoc to successfully complete or transition any ongoing projects and also to allow them time for future plans and accommodations. At least a 60-day notice is highly recommended; more time is recommend for international postdocs to provide sufficient time for making visa arrangements.

Please follow these steps immediately after informing the Postdoc of a non-renewal:

  1. Notify the department administrative staff immediately to start the resignation process (EPA).
  2. Please email/share with the Postdoc the invitation to take the Postdoc Exit Survey (listed below).
  3. Please refer the Postdoc to the departmental check-out process (returning keys, etc.).

Resignation of Appointment - Postdoc

Please submit written notification of intended departure to the PI/Supervisor. It is recommended as a professional courtesy to provide as much notice as possible prior to leaving to your PI/Supervisor. At least a 30-day notice is highly recommended.

Please fill out the Postdoc Exit Survey listed below and refer to the Postdoc Departure List.

Vacation hours can only be transferred (not paid out) at the end of an appointment if the Postdoc is moving to a Professional and Scientific position at ISU and the hiring department approves the transfer of vacation hours. Otherwise, all accrued vacation is forfeited at the time of resignation.

Resignation of Appointment - Department

Please follow these steps:

  1. Start the resignation process as early as possible prior to the end date of the postdoc appointment (EPA).
  2. Please email/share with the Postdoc the invitation to take the Postdoc Exit Survey (listed below).
  3. Please refer the Postdoc to the departmental check-out process (returning keys, etc.)

Vacation hours can only be transferred (not paid out) at the end of an appointment if the Postdoc is moving to a Professional and Scientific position at ISU and the hiring department approves the transfer of vacation hours. Otherwise, all accrued vacation is forfeited at the time of resignation.

Postdoc Exit Survey

Is your postdoc experience ending soon?

The Graduate College is interested in obtaining feedback about the ISU postdoc experience. The Exit Survey: https://iastate.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9Gq3bks3UgmGE0B will take about 15-minutes to fill out.

The results from this survey will give the Postdoc Office valuable information on relevant areas, resources, and services needed to enhance the postdoctoral experience at Iowa State. All responses to this survey will be kept confidential. Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete this survey.