Point of View: What’s in a name?

  1. Michael D Schaller  Is a corresponding author
  2. Gary McDowell
  3. André Porter
  4. Dorothy Shippen
  5. Katherine L Friedman
  6. Matthew S Gentry
  7. Tricia R Serio
  8. Wesley I Sundquist  Is a corresponding author
  1. West Virginia University, United States
  2. Future of Research, United States
  3. Manylabs, United States
  4. American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, United States
  5. Texas A&M University, United States
  6. Vanderbilt University, United States
  7. University of Kentucky College of Medicine, United States
  8. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States
  9. University of Utah School of Medicine, United States
1 figure and 1 table


Restructured postdoc designations at Boston University.

(A) In 2016, a task force considered data on academic research positions nationally and the practices at seven peer institutions, as well as the responsibilities and privileges of the 12 existing non-faculty job titles at Boston University. The resulting recommendations produced four new title positions. One of the positions is Postdoctoral Scholar, which is a training position with a five-year term limit. The other three designations are for researchers with BS or MS degrees (Researcher) and for PhDs who are not in training positions (Research Scholar and Senior Research Scholar – effectively a staff scientist). (B) The appropriate job title for a non-faculty position can be determined using a flow chart.


Table 1
Restructured postdoc designations at the University of Chicago. 

Postdocs are defined as “Fellows” or “Scholars” depending on the source of their stipend. The appointment process is initiated by the department, but it is then reviewed in the Provost’s Office, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to ensure that the terms of the appointment provide appropriate benefits and equitable opportunities for career development. All postdocs are evaluated annually for reappointment to the position, and these requests are reviewed and approved through the same process.

University of Chicago – two postdoc designations – one common experience
 StipendExtramural, e.g. fellowshipInstitutional (including from grants)
 Benefits“Supplemental stipend” from institution to provide benefits equivalent to Postdoctoral Scholar“Special employee” receives benefits from institution
 Career DevelopmentFollow criteria outlined in terms of the fellowshipInstitutionally mandated to provide similar career development experience

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  1. Michael D Schaller
  2. Gary McDowell
  3. André Porter
  4. Dorothy Shippen
  5. Katherine L Friedman
  6. Matthew S Gentry
  7. Tricia R Serio
  8. Wesley I Sundquist
Point of View: What’s in a name?
eLife 6:e32437.