Rights and Responsibilities
Each postdoc is responsible for developing their own career. Postdoc mentors must acknowledge that the purpose of postdoctoral studies is to advance the skills of each postdoc in line with their plan for career development. Postdocs are expected to carry out research outlined with their mentor. Postdocs have a shared responsibility for making the mentoring relationship work. Postdocs are required to comply with all established policies and procedure of the research group, department and University. Postdocs should become familiar with research policies and responsible conduct of research. The National Postdoctoral Association is a resource on postdoc rights and responsibilities.
Your primary goal should be to achieve the training, experience and professional networking you need to move on to a permanent position that suits your career goals. Postdocs should not be pressured to work indefinitely for their mentor, nor become overly comfortable in what should be a finite apprenticeship. A good rule of thumb is that the postdoc should begin a systematic job search at least a year before the end of his or her term. Expectations about a departure should be broached and discussed both upon arrival and during periodic evaluations.
Postdoc rights include:
- Clear terms of appointment.
- Research roadmap with mentor: postdocs should engage in conversations with their mentor on the extent of collaboration, obligations in the lab, goals, publications and other benchmarks.
- Mentoring: oversight, feedback, sympathetic consultation, and periodic evaluations.
- Career development opportunities: poster and paper presentations, professional meetings, and networking.
Postdoc responsibilities include:
- Postdocs must take ownership of their professional growth and career development.
- Postdocs are encouraged to learn new research tools, attend seminars, and develop collaborations and grant-writing skills.
- Postdocs should contribute their best efforts to the program in which they work, and consider themselves full members of that program as long as their appointment lasts.
- Maintain open and timely discussions with mentor regarding possession or distribution of publications, materials, reagents, or records relevant to the research project, and any proposed disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications.
- Publish research results and communicate research results to mentor.
- Maintain adequate records of research.
- Original data collected must be left with the principal investigator at the end of the appointment.
- Plan for departure. Your goal is not to be a postdoc anymore!