Appointment of Postdoctoral Researchers
Postdoctoral researchers represent a major component of the research enterprise at U.Va. and are essential to maintaining and expanding research productivity and funding. Adapted from the Association of American Universities, the University officially defines a postdoctoral appointment as follows:
The postdoctoral appointment is temporary and conferred upon an individual who has recently been awarded a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate in the appropriate field and who will be involved in full-time research or scholarship. The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic or research career, is supervised by a senior scholar, and the appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his/her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment. The postdoctoral appointment is renewed annually with a standard length of appointment of three years.
The process of initiating a postdoctoral appointment at U.Va. is highly decentralized and requires considerable coordination among many offices. There currently exists no standardized, formal process for hiring postdoctoral researchers, and the University does not have a dedicated, central office for postdoctoral scholars. As a result, research administrators among the various schools have identified challenges that delay the appointment of postdoctoral researchers including, but not limited to, creating entries in the Oracle system to initiate payroll; classifying postdoctoral positions; obtaining computing IDs; enrolling in benefits orientation sessions; and acquiring University ID cards.
In addition to the difficulties faced by administrators in initiating a postdoctoral appointment, postdocs face a distinctive set of problems and uncertainties most frequently dealing with the policies, procedures, and benefits that are applicable to their unique position at the University. In response to the issues raised by various stakeholders, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the School of Medicine initiated this project to identify ways to streamline and standardize processes and procedures in order to facilitate the appointment of postdoctoral research associates and postdoctoral fellows.