Responsibilities of Postdoctoral Scholars and Mentors


Responsibility of Postdoctoral Scholar

Postdoctoral scholars have certain obligations to their mentor, the group in which they are working, the department/school with which they are associated, the sponsor whose funds support them, and the University. These obligations include but are not limited to: (i) the conscientious discharge of their assigned duties; (ii) conformity with ethical standards in research and scholarship; (iii) compliance with good scholarly practice including the maintenance of adequate research records; (iv) observation of appropriate guidelines regarding human subjects, animal subjects and biohazards; (v) open and timely discussion with their mentor regarding possession or distribution of tangible property such as materials, reagents and the like; (vi) discussion of laboratory records or scholarly materials, if relevant; (vii) prior disclosure of appropriate scholarly information, findings or techniques proposed for dissemination privately, at scholarly meetings, or in publications; (viii) collegial conduct towards coworkers and members of the academic or research group; (ix) compliance with all applicable University and Office of Research and Innovation policies; (x) and following all immigration regulations.

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Responsibility of Mentor

Mentors’ responsibilities include: (i) developing in consultation with the postdoctoral scholar a mutually satisfactory research project or scholarly program; (ii) encouraging postdoctoral scholars to present their work, and to publish their results in a timely fashion; (iii) encouraging postdoctoral scholars to acquire and enhance their knowledge and technical skills as dictated by their current and future needs; (iv) arrangement and oversight of teaching opportunities as appropriate to their discipline and program; (v) encouraging postdoctoral scholars to apply for training and research support as appropriate; (vi) meeting regularly with their postdoctoral scholars to discuss progress in their research; (vii) providing an annual review of performance based upon written mutually agreed expectations of progress and performance; (viii) insuring that postdoctoral scholars are aware of University policies regarding postdoctoral training, and are instructed about research policies of the University; (ix) providing career counseling.

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Responsible Conduct of Research

Within 1 year of their appointment, all postdoctoral scholars must provide to the Office of Postdoctoral Services verification of having completed an approved educational program in responsible conduct of research. Information about approved programs can be found here.

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Research Records

Primary research records created by postdoctoral scholars during the period of their appointment are the property of Virginia Commonwealth University. All such records are retained by the University on departure of the individual. Subject to the approval of the mentor, copies of the records may be made and taken by the postdoctoral scholar. Postdoctoral scholars should be familiar with the university policy on research data.

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Intellectual property

The University retains all rights, title, and interest in any and all intellectual property generated, created, or developed in facilities operated or controlled by the University, supported by funds administered by Postdoctoral Scholars Policy and Procedures - 4 - Approved: 03/31/2008 the University, and/or performed in the course of regular duties by University members, including postdoctoral scholars, unless exempted by other provisions of this policy. It is the responsibility of the postdoctoral scholar to be familiar with VCU's Intellectual Property Policy.

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Application for Grants

VCU allows postdoctoral scholars to apply for grants as a Principal Investigator, however state policy stipulates that only those who are employees of the institution (i.e., receive salaries, not stipends) can be a Principal Investigator at the time a grant is awarded. Each school should set a policy describing the rights of postdoctoral Scholars to apply for grants as a Principal Investigator. If the university and school policy permits such applications, it is suggested that there be a requirement for review and approval by a knowledgeable tenured faculty member as well as the usual approval by department chair and dean. If the Scholar is not an employee at the time of application (i.e., they are a Scholar‐Trainee), before the proposal will be approved for submission by the Office of Sponsored Programs the department chair will be required to provide a letter stating that the individual will be placed in an appropriate position (salaried) should an award be made.

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IRB and IACUC Submissions

VCU policy stipulates that postdoctoral scholars are not eligible to be the Principle Investigator on IRB and most IACUC applications. Detail on this policy is available on the Office of Research and Innovation Website.

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Ombudsperson Services

Postdoctoral scholars are eligible to use the services of VCU’s Faculty/Staff Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson provides confidential, informal, impartial, and independent assistance to faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars who experience position‐related conflict. The Ombudsperson listens to complaints, provides information, facilitates communication, and helps arrange mediation or conflict resolution between or among members of VCU’s faculty, staff, and post-doctoral scholars. Information about the Ombudsperson can be found here.

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