Postdoctoral Fellow Appointment Guidelines
Academic heads or principal investigators who are wanting to appoint a postdoctoral fellow.
To ensure that there is a consistent approach across the University to the appointment process and implementation including terms and conditions.
The intent is to provide a defined pathway for doctoral graduates to establish a research career whilst moving from supervised and/or directed doctoral research to a more autonomous research career.
A postdoctoral fellow (PD) is differentiated from a research fellow in that a postdoctoral fellowship is seen as a development role for candidates who have recently completed their doctorate and are looking for their first (or an early) academic appointment. This is an academic staff position.
Postdoctoral fellows (PDs) are early career researchers, namely, graduates in their first research position/s following completion of their PHD.
This position provides a developmental timeframe of up to 3 years in order to:
- Conduct supervised research as part of a larger research programme, while also developing their own capability as independent researchers. This is the primary role;
- Make some contribution to teaching (under supervision) and service/leadership activities in their academic unit, typically in the range of 20-30% of the position.
Postdoctoral fellows who carry out any teaching activities will do so under the supervision of the course director who is responsible for course design, design of the assessment process and acting as the examiner for the course.
During this period of employment, the postdoctoral fellow will remain heavily directed by their academic head/PI and can only be the co-supervisor of postgraduate students or undergraduate Honours students/projects.
The postdoctoral fellow position is a start of career research position and provides a developmental timeframe for early career researchers as follows:
- Postdoctoral fellows may be employed for a maximum period of up to 3 years. This can be on one grant, or a series of concurrent/consecutive grants, or funded by faculties/LSRIs as appropriate.
- During this period, the postdoctoral fellow will remain under the direction of their principal investigator/academic head and may only co-supervise postgraduate students or undergraduate Honours students/projects.
- If a grant extends beyond 3 years the Postdoctoral Fellowship term should be for three years and appointment for the remainder of the grant must be as a research fellow.
- Faculty/LSRI funding that is not linked to a grant or project may not extend beyond 3 years.
- Postdoctoral fellows appointed for the first time are appointed at PD1 on the Postdoctoral salary scale. The scale has three steps and postdoctoral fellows will move to the next step upon the anniversary of their appointment or their next appointment if the first appointment is for one year. There is no accelerated advancement between steps.
- Postdoctoral fellows whose employment extends beyond 12 months should receive an academic development and appointment review (ADPR).
- Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply for research and study leave.
- Postdoctoral fellows can be appointed through advertising a position or through a non-advertised process.
- If the position is advertised, academic heads/principal investigators must follow the Academic Staff Recruitment, Selection and Appointment Procedures, with the exception that postdoctoral appointments do not need to be submitted to faculty staffing committees before being appointed.
- The process must be consistent with the Equity Policy.
- It is recommended postdoctoral fellows report to the academic head, however this may be delegated to the Principal Investigator (PI). Academic heads should still provide appropriate levels of supervision and support if they have delegated formal reporting responsibility to a PI.
- During the period of employment, the postdoctoral fellow will remain actively directed by their academic head/PI and can only act as a co-supervisor for postgraduate students or undergraduate Honours students/projects.
- Postdoctoral fellows appointed for the first time are appointed at step 1, and will proceed to move to the next step upon the anniversary of their appointment.
- In all cases a postdoctoral fellow can only be appointed for a period of up to three years. If funding is available for a longer period, appointment for the remainder of the period must be as a research fellow starting at step 1.
- When a postdoctoral fellow has already worked for at least 2 years on grant/s that have now lapsed, any new appointment would normally be at the level of research fellow starting at step 1
- Appointment of a graduate to their first (or early) research position at the level of postdoctoral fellow is not always appropriate should a candidate demonstrate clear ability for independent and high-level research consistent with the Academic Standards. In this case they may be appointed directly to the research fellow scale.
- A candidate may not be required to complete three years at postdoctoral fellow level before they are eligible for appointment as a research fellow. Early progression to the research fellow scale however requires the academic head to be comfortable that the candidate is able to demonstrate original, independent investigation which is contributing to knowledge and understanding in their field and performance consistent with the Academic Standards.
- Postdoctoral fellows employed on an initial period of more than 12 months must receive an Academic Development and Performance Review (ADPR).
- It is expected that postdoctoral fellows conduct supervised research as part of a larger research programme, while also developing their own capability as independent researchers. This is the primary objective.
- Postdoctoral fellows are also expected to make some contribution to teaching (under supervision) and service/leadership activities in their academic unit, typically no more than 20-30% of the position.
- Postdoctoral fellows who carry out any teaching activities will do so under the supervision of the course director who is responsible for course design, design of the assessment process and acting as the examiner for the course.
- As Postdoctoral fellows work under close guidance of an academic head or principal investigator, they are not seen to be undertaking independent research. Therefore the position has been classified as PBRF ineligible. Postdoctoral fellows therefore do not have to meet the same requirements as Research Fellows who must be research active and provided with an estimated quality research category (eQRC) on appointment.
- The rates outlined below are consistent with progression on the academic scale, and there is no accelerated progression between steps. On completion of three years as a postdoctoral fellow, any further employment is expected to be appointed as a research fellow at step 1.
|Grade||Step||Annual Fulltime salary from 1 Feb 2022|
|Postdoctoral Fellow||Postdoc 1||
The following definitions apply to this document:
Academic head refers to the role that leads an academic unit within a faculty.
PBRF refers to the performance based research fund.
Postdoctoral fellow (PF) refers to graduates in their first (or an early) research.
Principal investigator refers to the researcher responsible for the grant or contract.
University means Waipapa Taumata Rau - the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.
Key relevant documents
Academic Development and Performance Review Policy
Academic Development and Performance Review Procedures
Academic Staff Recruitment Procedures
Health, Safety and Wellbeing Policy
Document management and control
Owner: Director, Human Resources
Content manager: Associate Director, HR Advisory
Approved by: Director, Human Resources
Date approved: 28 February 2022
Review date: 28 February 2027