Policies, Procedures and Forms

The Office of Postdoctoral Education was established by the Emory School of Medicine in 1999 to insure the effective career development of postdoctoral fellows and to establish policies and procedures for postdoc appointments and training that would benefit all postdocs. These policies and procedures define the advantages and responsibilities of the postdoctoral training years.

Postdoctoral Policy

These policies and guidelines define the appointment process, requirements, and responsibilities of Postdoctoral Fellows in the Emory University School of Medicine. In 1999 Emory University established one of the nations earliest Office of Postdoctoral Education and in 2001 it established policies and procedures for the appointment and guidelines for postdoctoral fellows. The policies and guidelines below offer the postdoctoral fellow a clear understanding of his or her responsibilities, rights, and privileges during postdoctoral training.

Click here for the complete Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows.

The policy contain guidelines on:

Definition of a Postdoctoral Fellow - A Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Medicine is an individual holding a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree, who is appointed primarily to receive advanced research training under the guidance of a mentor holding a primary faculty appointment in the School of Medicine. Policies applicable to all postdoctoral trainees of Emory University are stated in the Emory University Postdoctoral Appointment and Retention Policy.

Eligibility for Appointment - To be eligible for appointment as a postdoctoral fellow, an individual must hold a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent degree from a recognized institution of higher learning.

Letter of Appointment and Progress - Postdoctoral appointments will be made in an appointment/offer letter from the faculty mentor stating terms of the appointment. At minimum this letter will include the term of appointment, typically a renewable one year appointment; the level of financial support; the duration of assured support if less than the appointment term; the benefits available to the fellow, and a brief overview of the research project and other fellow responsibilities. A progress report and goals for completion of training should be submitted annually. During the first year of training an Individual Career Development Plan should be submitted and annually a Progress Report containing goals for completion of training. Notice of non-renewal of appointment should be given in writing at least three months prior to the end of appointments with copies to the department and Office of Postdoctoral Education.   

Terms of Appointments - The maximum term of appointment in the School of Medicine under the title of Postdoctoral Fellow will be five years’ duration. Appeal of this term shall be addressed to the departmental chair with oversight of the Dean.

Level of Financial Support - The recommended minimum level on annual full-time financial support for postdoctoral fellows in the school of Medicine is recommended by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Postdoctoral Education and approved by the Dean and Council of Chairs. 

The minimum salary for beginning postdoctoral fellow at Emory University School of Medicine is linked to the NIH and NRSA standards for both non-NRSA and NRSA funded postdoctoral fellows. The minimum requirements are updated annually, please contact OPE to receive the salary tables for the current fiscal year. 

Benefits - Health insurance is required of all postdoctoral fellows. Single person coverage with family option is available through Emory programs as an employee benefit with University or other contribution. If the trainee elects to waive health insurance coverage through the University, he/she must certify that they have at least comparable coverage. Postdoctoral fellows are eligible for vacation, disability, and family leave according to University or applicable granting agency guidelines.

Postdoctoral Fellow Obligations - An outline of fellow obligations will be provided with the letter of appointment. Common obligations ordinarily include at minimum: to participate in the research project outlined in discussions with the faculty mentor and to regularly inform the mentor of the fellow’s research activity; to exercise ethical standards of the profession and of the University and School of Medicine; to exhibit good laboratory practice and comply with guidelines for the use of human subjects and animals in research; to exhibit collegial conduct to his/her mentor, coworkers, and members of the University community; and to comply with University, School of Medicine, departmental, and funding agency policies and procedures. Additional obligations or training activities such as fellowship preparation or teaching should be stated. Fellows should participate in annual review of their research and career progress with their mentor and with other designated individuals. Fellows shall also submit a completed Postdoc Information Form to the Office of Postdoctoral Education upon arrival and provide updates as required throughout his/her appointment.

Mentor Obligations - Postdoctoral research opportunities at Emory University School of Medicine are intended to foster the training of basic and clinical research scientists. Included within this goal is the concept that postdoctoral fellows, with the guidance of their mentors, will develop a scientific project that utilizes the creativity and independence of the fellow. In this spirit, the mentor will provide adequate facilities, funds, and the appropriate guidance to achieve the agreed upon goals of the project. In addition, mentors should provide guidance in critical review of scientific information, grant writing, manuscript writing and preparation, presentation of scientific information, and in the art of performing research. Mentors should also advise and as possible, aid fellows in decisions regarding future employment potential and career paths. Mentor review of fellow performance and career development should be conducted at least once per year. A member(s) of the departmental senior faculty should be designated to serve as liaison with departmental postdoctoral fellows, faculty and the Office of Postdoctoral Education and its advisory committees.

Intellectual Property - University guidelines on Intellectual Property, contained in the Emory University Intellectual Property Policy, apply to all Emory personnel including postdoctoral fellows and will be made available to the fellow at the time of appointment. As stated in detail in this policy, all technology and scholarly works generated within the scope of assigned work, studies, research or scholarship, or made with use of Emory support is the property of the University, unless released by written consent of an authorized University official. This policy does not imply prohibition against publication of the fellow’s research or scholarship.

Grievances - If disputes arise between postdoctoral fellow and mentor or others of the University community, resolution should first be attempted by informal processes at the departmental or center level and if unsuccessful, with the Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Education. Mediation services will be available through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. If not resolved, the grievance may be pursued through established formal grievance procedures initiated through the departmental chair or center director, as outlined in Emory University Human Resources Policies & Procedures. Resolution may be sought for matters that are not otherwise covered by grievance procedures of the University through the Office of the Dean, School of Medicine.

Annual Progress Reports and Renewal

Renewal of Your Postdoc Appointment

The School of Medicine Policy for Postdoctoral Fellows adopted May 1, 2000 states that Postdoctoral Fellows should receive a renewable one-year appointment from their mentor at the time of the anniversary of their date of hire based on a satisfactory level of research performance.   

Annual Progress

A Postdoc’s research performance is documented in the on-line Annual Progress Report completed by the Postdoc.  After the Postdoc completes the Annual Progress Report, an email is sent automatically to the mentor to approve or comment on-line on the Postdoctoral Fellow’s report.  Postdocs should discuss the content of their Annual Progress Report with their mentors. 

The Postdoc Annual Progress Report is available for completion online. To complete your annual progress report:

  1. Go to the Postdoc Database website  
  2. Login using your Emory user ID/password 
  3. Click on Annual Progress Review on the left hand menu  
  4. Complete and submit the form

An automatic email will be sent to your Mentor to approve and comment on your completed form.  You do not have to send a copy to OPE, however you still need to send a Letter of Renewal of Postdoctoral Appointment to OPE. This letter comes from your Mentor and should be sent to OPE by your anniversary date.  The letter can be either  emailed to OPE@emory.edu or faxed to OPE at 7-5651. 

Individual Development Plan

The Individual Development Plan (IDP)

Why is it important?

In 2005, Sigma Xi conducted a postdoc survey for better understanding postdoc needs and experiences (Davis, G. 2005. Doctors without orders. American Scientist 93(3, supplement)). The results have shown that research/ career plans for postdocs provide a framework of accountability and responsibility. Furthermore, the data showed that postdocs that had a structured plan as compared to those without a plan were over all more satisfied, gave their advisor higher ratings, had fewwer conflicts, submitted more grants and published more. 

The IDP is a concept used in career development to help employees to define and pursue their career goals. The IDP is extremely important as it:

  • Helps identify short- and long-term goals
  • Serves as a reminder to achieving these goals
  • Serves as a great conversation starter between the mentor and the postdoc about their career goals and how to achieve them

For more information about the IDP, please visit our Career Development section.

To complete your IDP:

  1. Go to the Postdoc Database website  
  2. Login using your Emory user ID/password 
  3. Click on IDP on the left hand menu  
  4. Complete and submit the form

An automatic email will be sent to your Mentor to review and comment on your completed IDP.  You do not have to send a copy to OPE.

Resources about the IDP

Research Policies and Guidelines

Relevant Emory School of Medicine Policies in Conduct of Research:

Policies and Procedures Related to Submission of a Grant Application: