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Obligations and Responsibilities of Postdocs

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Postdocs have certain obligations to their mentor, the group in which they are working, the department with which they are associated, the sponsor whose funds support them, and the University. These obligations include but are not limited to:

  • The conscientious discharge of their research, scholarly, and teaching responsibilities, as applicable
  • Conformity with ethical standards in research and scholarship
  • Compliance with good scholarly practice, including the maintenance of adequate research records
  • Observation of appropriate guidelines regarding human subjects and due observation of University standards regarding use of isotopes, chemicals, infectious agents, animals, and the like, if applicable
  • Open and timely discussion with their mentor regarding possession or distribution of tangible property such as materials, reagents, and the like
  • Discussion of laboratory records or scholarly materials, if relevant
  • Prior disclosure of appropriate scholarly information, findings, or techniques proposed for dissemination privately, at scholarly meetings, or in publications
  • Collegial conduct toward all members of the University community
  • Compliance with all applicable University policies
  • Completing IDPs or equivalent performance appraisal with mentor yearly at the beginning of each appointment year starting year 2
  • Attending a minimum required contact hours of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training per career stage.

Related FAQs

Is there a residency requirement?

The fellowship requires that you live within the Philadelphia area unless the research program is of a global nature.

Am I an employee of the college?

Postdocs at Penn are considered trainees. Trainees are assigned to and supervised by a faculty mentor. The University pays a stipend and offers employee-like benefits. Please see the Policy for Postdoctoral Trainees at the University of Pennsylvania.

Which Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) CITI Training do I complete?

There are several different discipline specific RCR courses listed in the CITI training. You should choose the course that is most closely associated with your discipline:

Biomedical Research – research in areas like life sciences, biomedical, health sciences, basic biological research, etc.

Social and Behavioral Research – research in areas like anthropology, communication, economics, geography, communication, criminology, international studies, journalism, political science, psychology, sociology, speech and hearing, education, etc.

Physical Sciences – research in areas like physics, earth sciences, chemistry, microbiology, evolution and ecology, astronomy, mathematics, energy, aerospace, lasers, etc.

Humanities – research in areas like visual or performing arts, arts education, English or other languages, religious studies, gender studies, literature, history, etc.

Engineering – research in general engineering fields. This course is very similar to the Physical Science course.

Research Administrators – If you assist in the administration of research rather than the direct conduct of the research, you should select the Research Administrators course.

How do I address grievances and conflicts?

The University of Pennsylvania strives to promote an optimal training and educational experience for its postdoc community through a professional and respectful environment. Open and routine communication between supervisors/mentors and postdocs throughout the postdoc appointment is encouraged in order to clarify expectations, provide an ongoing and timely mechanism for constructive feedback from both parties, as well as offer the opportunity to identify, address/resolve any potential matters as they may arise. It is the expectation that this communication between supervisors and postdocs occurs openly and regularly. Faculty mentors should refer to the grievance process that is included in the policy for postdoctoral trainees at the University of Pennsylvania for step-by-step information.

What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP)?

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) refers to a structured document outlining the professional and career development goals of a postdoctoral researcher. IDPs are typically designed to help postdocs identify their strengths, weaknesses, career aspirations, and areas for improvement.

Establishing clear expectations and setting goals with a clear plan for achieving them are critical to a productive postdoctoral experience. Therefore, at the beginning of the appointment, faculty mentors should work with their postdocs to complete an IDP.

An IDP should:
– Set clear short-term, mid-term, and long-term training and development goals.
– Create a written action plan for the postdoc’s individual goals, including career objectives and professional development needs.
– Establish clear expectations.
– Identify and use resources to help postdocs achieve their goals.
– Serve as a communication tool between the mentor and the postdoc to have open and direct dialogue.

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