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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Policy Number: 122


Postdoctoral Research Fellows


Postdoctoral Research Fellows 

Date Reviewed:
December 2017
Responsible Office:
Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer; Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Responsible Executive:
Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer


This policy defines postdoctoral research fellows at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“University”) and delineates responsibilities of postdoctoral research fellows and faculty mentors/supervisors.


Postdoctoral research fellow (“PRF”): an individual who holds a Ph.D., M.D., other terminal doctorate, or equivalent degree and who is selected to receive advanced research training under the guidance of a mentor holding a primary faculty appointment at the University. Postdoctoral research fellowship positions are temporary, usually for a duration of six years or less. PRF appointments are generally restricted to those who have received a terminal degree within the past seven years.   Exceptions to this restriction will be considered on a case by case basis when candidates have been away from research activity since earning their terminal degrees or if they have earned another degree within the past seven years.

Individual Development Plan (IDP): a document that allows a PRF to: develop career objectives based upon an assessment of his/her interests, skills, and values, and provides guidance to achieve career objectives.  An IDP also serves as a communication tool between PRFs and their supervisors and/or other mentors and advisors to help define career goals and provide training to support achieving them.

PRFs are not observers or volunteers (HOOP Policy 125 Visitors and HOOP Policy 159 Volunteers).

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs provides information and resources for PRFs.


     A.  Appointment  

PRFs are appointed within a department, division, school, or other administrative unit.  PRF appointments must be processed through OPA.  OPA must also be notified of PRF terminations.  PRF positions are temporary, with a duration of not more than six years.  In rare circumstances, an exception may be granted by the University through OPA to allow a PRF to extend his or her training beyond six years. 

     B.  Responsibilities of the Faculty Mentor

  • Faculty members serving as mentors/supervisors of PRFs (“faculty mentors”) are responsible for providing an environment in which advanced training in a research specialty can be conducted and for providing guidance in the professional development of the PRF. The faculty mentor is also responsible for work assignments and performance evaluations of the PRF.
  • The faculty mentor is responsible for the direction of research in the laboratory and any other training environment.  The faculty mentor will make final decisions regarding research projects, experimental approaches, publications and authorship.  These decisions will be made in consultation with the PRF. 
  • The faculty mentor is responsible for providing an annual review of the PRF’s training progress and direction.
  • Upon request by the PRF, the faculty mentor is responsible for providing assistance to the PRF to develop and implement an IDP and advice on how to implement the plan to achieve the PRF’s career goals.  

     C.  Responsibilities of the Postdoctoral Research Fellow

PRFs are responsible for the ethical and conscientious conduct of their research. This includes, but is not limited to, the maintenance of adequate research records and compliance with University policies and procedures.

PRFs are strongly encouraged to prepare an IDP shortly after their appointments and annually thereafter and to discuss their plans with their faculty mentors and/or the Director of OPA or designee.


    • Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
    • 713-500-6612
    • Office of the Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer
    • 713-500-3062