C. Postdoctoral Fellows

(1)   Description

This appointment is made to enable the individual to continue his or her studies under the general supervision of one or more Harvard faculty members. Designated supervisors will ordinarily hold the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, Senior Research Fellow, or Rowland Institute Research Fellow.

To hold an appointment at this rank, the candidate must have received a doctoral degree at the time of appointment. Ordinarily, the candidate will have earned a doctorate recently. The appointment is made for a minimum of three months and is not to exceed 12 months. Individuals may ordinarily serve in this category, whether full- or part-time, for a maximum of three years. Postdoctoral fellows may not be designated as “principal investigator” or “project director” without the explicit approval of the divisional dean. Please see https://www.postdoc.harvard.edu/ for additional information about postdoctoral fellow appointments.

Note: Members of the FAS and University community are expected to familiarize themselves with, and conform to, Harvard policies on teaching, research, and service, as appropriate to their position. Please see Chapter 2, “FAS and University Policies,” for more information.

In keeping with Harvard University’s Intellectual Property policies (https://vpr.harvard.edu/pages/intellectual-property-policy) and other research policies, faculty and researchers are expected to sign electronically the Harvard University Participation Agreement upon their arrival on campus.

If working in one of Harvard’s laboratories, and if not receiving any form of payment from Harvard, faculty and researchers should also submit an electronic PDF of a signed hard copy of the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Non-Harvard Personnel Using Harvard Research and Instructional Laboratory Facilities form before their arrival on campus.

(2) Salary

The appointment may be on Harvard payroll (“paid” category) or funded independently (“unpaid” category). Unpaid positions include those on fellowships that are paid directly to the fellow and those on the payroll of another institution. Paid appointments may be as internal, employee postdoctoral fellows (when the postdoctoral fellow is supported by research grants and contracts under the direction of a Harvard Principal Investigator) or as external, stipendiary postdoctoral fellows (when a fellowship is awarded to a postdoctoral fellow and is managed by Harvard University, with the fellow paid through Harvard).

(3)   Appointment/Search Procedures

No search is required for:

a.   Unpaid appointments.
b.   Appointments to be paid through postdoctoral research fellowships awarded directly to the fellow.
c.   Non-renewable employee postdoctoral fellow appointments.
d.   Appointments of individuals who are continuing work begun while graduate students at Harvard.
e.   Appointments of individuals who move to Harvard as part of an ongoing research team under the supervision of a newly-appointed tenure-track or tenured faculty member.
f.   Appointments involving transfer from “unpaid” to “paid” status when there is a temporary need to prevent the interruption of research due to lapses in outside funding.
g.   Appointments in cases where a faculty member or principal investigator is acting as formal supervisor of a successful grant application that is essentially the work of the candidate and entirely dependent upon his/her employment.

A search is required for all other appointments. Some departments may find it convenient to place an annual advertisement in an appropriate professional journal indicating the general availability of positions in their areas. Other suggested recruitment methods include advertising each position, posting open positions on the department’s webpage, and consulting rosters of diverse individuals, including women and minorities. Advertising copy must indicate that Harvard is “an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.” Care should be taken to avoid language that could be construed as discriminatory with regard to age. Please note that print advertisements are not required for research appointments; online ads are sufficient.

(4)   Documentation Requirements

The department must submit items a.-f. below to the Appointments Office in the Office for Faculty Affairs via Accellion (secure document transfer: https://fta.fas.harvard.edu) and deliver item g. to the University Financial Services I-9 drop box by hand:

a.   1 electronic PDF copy of a recommendation letter (signed by the department laboratory director, department administrator, or principal investigator, on department letterhead) briefly explaining the title, dates of appointment, and purpose of the appointment and including the following:

i.   The name of the departmental sponsor and the source and amount of financial support.

ii.   If no search was required, the basis for exemption.

iii.   If a search was required, the recommendation should also include:

a)      A statement describing the steps taken to identify candidates from diverse populations, including women and minorities.

b)      A description of how the leading candidate was identified.

c)      A description of how many diverse individuals applied or were considered.

d)     Comparison of the candidate with all other leading candidates (in particular, women and minorities), and reasons why the other leading candidates were not chosen.

e)      Copies of all advertisements.

b.   If a search was required, 1 electronic PDF copy of the “Affirmative Action Form” available from the FAS Faculty Affairs Appointments Office. 

c.   1 electronic PDF copy of the candidate’s curriculum vitae.

d.   1 electronic PDF copy of doctoral degree verification (required for candidates who have received their degree within one year of the effective start date).  If an incoming post-doc has received a doctoral degree within 12 months of the start date of his or her appointment, verification is required. Acceptable verification is either a certificate of completion from the degree-granting institution or a letter from the institution’s Registrar. Such documentation should state that all requirements for the degree have been successfully completed and should verify the date the degree has been or will be conferred. If the candidate received his or her degree from Harvard, written verification from the chair or director of graduate studies, on department letterhead, may suffice.

e.   1 electronic PDF copy of an offer letter/letter of agreement between the candidate and principal investigator.

f.   1 electronic PDF of a signed hard copy of the Acknowledgement of Risk and Release for Non-Harvard Personnel Using Harvard Research and Instructional Laboratory Facilities form (if working in one of Harvard’s laboratories and if not receiving any form of payment from Harvard).

g.   Original, completed I-9 form and any necessary payroll documents. (If the postdoctoral fellow is paid as an employee, an I-9 form is required for a first appointment or after a break in service of one year or more. Note: If a valid I-9 is already on file, this is indicated in the recommendation letter.)

Departments should retain documents according to practices recommended by Harvard Archives at https://library.harvard.edu/university-archives/managing-university-records/record-schedules.