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University establishes postdoctoral scholars guidelines


September 19, 2006

As ASU continues down the path of becoming a more dynamic research institution, a new set of guidelines for postdoctoral scholars has been established.

These guidelines allow the more than 200 postdoctoral scholars on appointments at ASU to be recognized as a unique and important group of scientists.

“Previously, most of our postdoctoral scholars were categorized with academic professionals,” says Marjorie S. Zatz, university vice provost for academic personnel. “Yet they are not long-term employees and have very little in common with employees who are settling in to work at ASU for many years. That's why we thought it was so important for this group of researchers and scholars to have their own written set of guidelines.”

The guidelines also are another way for the university to better meet the needs of research teams and enhance the research experience for postdoctoral scholars.

The postdoctoral experience at ASU emphasizes academic preparation and continued research and training. It is a transition period during which individuals who have recently completed a doctoral degree are provided a full-time program of advanced academic preparation and research training under the guidance of a supervising faculty expert.

Postdoctoral scholars also contribute to the academic community at ASU by enhancing the research and education programs available here. They typically engage in research as part of a team comprising one or more professors, a number of graduate students – and, occasionally, undergraduates.

“The postdoctoral appointment offers the scholar a limited period of time to focus on research and scholarship under the guidance of a faculty mentor,” Zatz says. “Postdoctoral scholars are no longer graduate students, but at the same time they are not yet independent researchers or scientists. This appointment permits them to conduct research under the general oversight of their mentor, in preparation for a career as an independent scientist.”

Appointments are based on the availability of funds, as well as the postdoctoral scholar's research credentials.

“Generally, postdoctoral scholars should be within five years of receipt of their doctoral degree, and the postdoctoral appointment can be renewed annually for three years,” Zatz says.

For more information on the postdoctoral experience at ASU or the newly created set of guidelines, visit the Web page (www.asu.edu/provost/postdocs).