The University’s official definition of a postdoctoral appointment, adapted from the Association of American Universities (AAU), is 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.
At U.Va. a postdoc falls into one of two classifications, depending on the funding source:
Postdoctoral “Research Associate” is the title given to postdocs who are funded internally. Research Associates are considered U.Va. employees and members of the Professional Research Staff (PRS). They receive a salary from the institution.
Postdoctoral “Fellow” is the title given to postdocs who are funded externally (e.g. training grant, support from home country). Due to the requirements of the funding agency (e.g. NIH training grant) as well as University regulations, fellows are not considered U.Va. employees and receive a stipend. Their benefits differ from the benefits of Research Associates in some areas.