"A Postdoctoral Researcher is an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path. At the University of Chicago, the postdoctoral experience emphasizes scholarship and continued research training. The Postdoctoral Researcher conducts research under the general oversight of a faculty mentor in preparation for a career in academe, industry, government, or the nonprofit sector. In many disciplines postdoctoral work provides essential training for individuals pursuing academic careers and may include opportunities to enhance teaching and other professional skills. Postdoctoral Researchers contribute to the academic community by enhancing the research and education programs of the University. The University strives to provide a stimulating, positive, and constructive experience for the Postdoctoral Researcher by emphasizing the mutual commitment and responsibility of the institution, the faculty, and the Postdoctoral Researcher."
(from the Postdoctoral Researcher Policy Manual)
Postdocs come in two varieties: Postdoctoral Scholars and Postdoctoral Fellows. The distinction is largely determined by the source of funding and whether or not the postdoc is a University employee:
- Postdoc Scholars are University employees and are appointed when funding comes from the University's own funds or if an externally funded fellowship requires (or allows) the recipient to be a University employee. As a consequence, postdoc scholars can be eligible for University employee benefits packages and their salaries will incure fringe benefit charges.
- Postdoc Fellows are not University employees and are appointed when the recipient has been awarded an externally funded fellowship. Postdoc fellows can receive their stipends either directly from the sponsor or through University accounts created for the purpose depending on the fellowship guidelines. If paid through the University, the stipends will appear use subaccount 8370. Postdoc fellow stipends will not incur fringe benefit charges and the fellows are not eligible for University employee benefits.
All postdocs are expected to spend the majority of their time on their research. If a significant portion of a postdoc scholar's time (one month or more) will be spent on another project, then his/her payroll distribution should be changed accordingly. Of course, any such diversion of effort should be done in coordination with the postdoc's faculty mentor. Postdoc fellows may have special restrictions regarding other work depending on the terms of their sponsorship.
For more details regarding postdoc appointments consult the University of Chicago Postdoctoral Researcher Policy Manual.