Authorization and Approval

Authorization: Board of GovernorsUniversity Council

This policy is currently under revision to align with the PSAC Local 40004 Collective Agreement.

The Collective Agreement supersedes this policy in all aspects pertaining to employment of in-scope postdoctoral fellows.

The policy remains in effect for matters pertaining to out-of-scope postdoctoral fellows and areas not part of the collective agreement.  For more information, please visit the CGPS website or contact CGPS at

Approval Date: Dec 16, 2004


Faculty: means any professional position at or through the University of Saskatchewan that confers the right to hold a research grant and/or supervise research trainees.

Supervisor: means a faculty member with whom the PDF carries out research projects and who is responsible for the guidance of the PDF.

Post-doctoral fellows (PDFs): A PDF is a trainee who holds a Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Guiding Principles
PDFs are valuable members of the university; they contribute immensely to the vitality of the research environment. In general, PDFs come to a university in order to gain additional research experience and expertise. They are here to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become independent investigators themselves. PDFs are capable of making intellectual contributions to both the conception and the completion of research. It is expected that PDFs are engaged in research projects that provide the challenge necessary for intellectual growth rather than provision of technical support. Conversely, Supervisors can expect that a PDF will contribute significantly to the intellectual development of the research project.

While a PDF should be capable of independent work, the PDF must work on projects that are of interest to the Supervisor, who provides the environment and often the funding that allows the research to be carried out. There is a requirement that the PDF will comply with the University of Saskatchewan policy on the storage of data and share all research results and conclusions with the Supervisor.

A PDF will be supervised by a faculty member who is a member of the College of Graduate Studies and Research.

Normally, PDFs are appointed within three to five years of completion of their Ph.D. or equivalent degree. Appointments as PDFs are for a limited period of time; normally there is an initial one to two year appointment renewable to a maximum of five years. In extenuating circumstances, a Dean may recommend that the Dean of the CGSR extend the appointment period. This extension will be subject to approval by Immigration authorities for non-Canadians and non-Permanent Residents.

The College of Graduate Studies and Research shall serve as the oversight organization responsible for the academic and administrative needs of PDFs. All PDFs shall be registered with the College of Graduate Studies & Research. Supervisors shall ensure that registration is updated annually. The information gathered from this process will be used to provide information for both strategic and research planning. (See Registration Form)

Research Responsibilities
The Supervisor is required to provide a research environment suitable for the completion of the research work that the PDF will undertake. The nature of this research should be appropriate to the PDF's desire to gain additional experience.

The PDF must acknowledge the role of the Supervisor in the general direction of the research, and provide all research findings to the Supervisor in a timely and cooperative manner. The Supervisor has responsibility for the management of the research space and activity to ensure compliance with University policies including certificates for Animal Care and Human Ethics. The Supervisor will ensure that the original copy of research data is stored in their office or other working space for a period of five years.

Intellectual Property
Intellectual property is the term used to describe the creative results of research and scholarly activity which may have immediate realizable value or value upon further development and commercial use or production. It may take various forms, such as patentable discoveries and inventions, copyrightable works (books, paintings, photographs, computing software, graphics, etc.) non-patentable technical knowhow and trade secrets. Ownership of intellectual property rests in the creator but is assignable. University faculty and administrative personnel assign certain intellectual property ownership rights to the University on appointment.

The Supervisor will inform a PDF of any prior intellectual property agreements covering any research work that they are to undertake. The commitments made in the agreements, and any benefits or the lack thereof must be communicated in writing to the PDF. A copy of this intellectual property agreement must accompany the registration, along with an acknowledgement by the PDF that the conditions are understood.

Similarly, the Supervisor will involve PDFs in any intellectual property agreements for any research work that the PDF will be involved in that may yield patentable or commercial benefits.

PDFs may contact the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research for guidance with respect to their role in intellectual property agreements.

Recruitment practices vary between departments and colleges. Common practices are through recommendations by a faculty member from another institution, networking at conferences, by advertising in various electronic or paper media, and by successful applications for fellowships from various granting agencies.

Faculty members who have funding to support a PDF usually conduct the selection process personally. They retain copies of the documentation in their appointments files. In some departments, the CVs of potential candidates may be circulated to other members for their assessment. Telephone interviews may be conducted.

Required documentation consists of a CV, letters of reference, and official transcripts forwarded directly from the granting institutions. The supervisor may also request copies of research papers in press or submitted, and perhaps a brief research proposal.

Before a Letter of Offer is sent to the prospective PDF, the required documentation and a recommendation to appoint the PDF must be provided to the Dean, CGSR, who will authorize the appointment. The required documentation (original materials will then be forwarded to the Human Resources Division which is the repository of all personnel files except those for faculty). Copies may be kept in the departmental appointments files.

Appointment Procedures- See Procedures for Applying to Register PDFs with CGSR

A notice of thirty days for resignation or termination of the PDF is expected.

Awards to PDFs vary considerably depending on the source of funds. Granting agencies often specify the level of award. In those cases where there are no specific guidelines, the University of Saskatchewan requires that PDFs receive a minimum salary of at least 1.75 times the Ph.D.-level University Graduate Scholarship award (currently $35,000).

The University of Saskatchewan normally expects PDFs to be fulltime researchers. Under exceptional circumstances and with the recommendation of the administrator responsible for the unit in which the PDF is employed, part-time or partial appointments, prorated as per minimum salary requirement, may be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research.

Since PDFs are appointed to trainee positions they are not considered to be in an employment relationship and as such are not subject to legislated labour benefits.

Although as a trainee, paid vacation for PDFs is not mandatory, it is a principle the University supports. Therefore, the PDF should be provided with a minimum of three weeks' vacation time per year (earned at a minimum rate of 1 1/4 days/month). Vacation time should be taken prior to end of their term at a mutually agreed-upon time. Consistent with the academic tradition, vacation pay for time not taken is not normally paid upon termination.

PDF Research Allowances
Many agencies, which provide direct funding to PDFs from national competitions, also provide small research allowances. These research allowances when administered by the University of Saskatchewan must be held by a faculty member or equivalent, who must ensure the application of University policies to the management of these accounts.

Different agencies have specific rules concerning these allowances, about which the Research Services office, Research Administration, will provide advice. However, most of the granting agencies that provide these funds do so for the benefit of the PDF, not the benefit of the Supervisor. These funds are often intended to provide a benefit (e.g. travel for meetings and conferences, journal subscription, computer & software, and possibly moving expenses, etc.) that might not be normally available to other PDFs from the Supervisor's funding. These funds are not to be used to provide for the normal costs of research, which are the Supervisor's responsibility.

In the absence of regulations from the Granting Agency, all items purchased with these funds remain the property of the University of Saskatchewan. Transfer of ownership may be arranged subject to application.

The University and most granting agencies encourage PDFs to participate in a limited amount of teaching activity as part of their funded activity. Normally, teaching will be limited to a maximum of three credit units per annum. Appropriate compensation for teaching will be made. As the primary purpose of a PDF is to conduct research rather than to gain teaching experience, a PDF who intends to teach should discuss this with the Supervisor before applying in order to establish whether or not the terms of the grant or fellowship allow teaching. The Supervisor must also be satisfied that the research obligations and responsibilities of the PDF will not be negatively affected by any teaching duties and responsibilities.

Many of the granting agencies which provide funding directly to the PDFs from national competitions and from some provincial competitions will consider applications for transfer to another Supervisor for both sound career development reasons and/or as a result of conflicts (see below). The University of Saskatchewan will attempt to facilitate, but cannot guarantee, such transfers.

Conflict Resolution
The academic home for PDFs is the College of Graduate Studies & Research.

A PDF experiencing some difficulty with his/her Supervisor should attempt to resolve the issues directly with the Supervisor in the first instance. Only if such an attempt has been made and rejected or failed, should the PDF then seek the intervention of an authority.

PDFs should then bring any problems related to supervision to the attention of a Dean, Department Head or a Director. PDFs supervised by adjunct professors should approach the head of an academic department in which the adjunct professor holds appointment (see registration form).

At any time, PDFs may bring their concerns to the attention of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The Dean, in cooperation with the Office of Research Services, will facilitate any subsequent actions that involve the granting agencies.

Likewise, Supervisors should attempt to solve any problems within their academic unit, but may bring matters concerning PDFs to the attention of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.


If you have questions about this policy please contact:

Contact Person: Associate Dean, College of Graduate Studies and Research
Phone: 306-966-5759
Web Site & Forms: