Overview

Postdoctoral Fellows (PDFs) are valuable members of the University of Saskatchewan community.  As trained researchers, they have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the vitality of the University’s research environment. 

PDFs come to the University to:

  • Develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become independent investigators;
  • Make scholarly contributions to the conception, development and completion of research projects; and,
  • Engage in research projects that provide the challenge necessary for intellectual growth rather than provision of technical support.

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 enables research to be conducted. Faculty members who are members of the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS) may supervise PDFs. 

The College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies administers the University of Saskatchewan Postdoctoral Appointment process. The Coordinator, Postdoctoral Studies, is the primary contact for all inquiries related to PDF appointments.

What is a Postdoctoral Fellow?

A Postdoctoral Fellow is an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • The individual will work under the supervision of a faculty mentor and often as part of a larger research team;
  • The individual has been awarded a PhD or equivalent within five (5) years immediately preceding the appointment; and
  • The individual agrees to an appointment that is time-limited, renewable to a maximum of five (5) years from the date of Ph.D. completion.

Types of Postdoctoral Fellows

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 40004 (PSAC), represents the majority of PDFs at the University of Saskatchewan.  Representation by PSAC is dependent on the PDF’s source of funding.  Before seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Fellow, faculty members must assess the source of funding, which will determine whether the prospective Postdoctoral Fellow is considered in-scope of the PSAC bargaining unit.

In-Scope PDF

An In-Scope PDF receives full or partial funding from University sources (i.e. from a research grant or contract obtained by their supervisor, from a research unit of the University, etc.), and are considered employees of the University of Saskatchewan.  The terms and conditions of their working relationship with the faculty supervisor will be governed by the Collective Agreement with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

External PDF

An External PDF receives 100% of their own transferrable funding from an external source (awarded directly to the PDF, not to the supervisor). External PDFs are not considered employees of the University of Saskatchewan and are not in-scope of the PSAC bargaining unit. Some External PDF’s funding may be administered through University payroll, while others may be paid directly to the PDF by the granting agency.

Remuneration

The University of Saskatchewan requires that PDFs receive a minimum stipend/salary of at least $36,000 per annum and normally expects PDFs to be fulltime researchers. The income earnings for most PDFs are subject to Canadian Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI) deductions and Canadian Income Tax.

Benefits

PDFs In-Scope of PSAC

PDFs in-scope of the PSAC bargaining unit are eligible for benefits (health, dental, life) if they work at least half time (0.5 FTE), with a term appointment of at least six (6) months.  PDFs must be residents of Canada and be eligible under the provincial health care program.  For plan details and eligibility, please visit https://wellness.usask.ca/benefits/plans.php and scroll down to PSAC – Postdoctoral Fellows (PDFs).

Benefit premiums are paid by the employer/supervisor, with the exception of basic life insurance, which is paid by the PDF.

External PDFs

External PDFs are not eligible for benefits under the PSAC collective agreement.  Instead, they are eligible to purchase membership into the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). With a GSA membership, External PDFs can enrol in and purchase the Graduate Students’ Health & Dental Plan. Visit studentcare.ca for more information and rates.

The Appointment Process

Selection Process

Postdoctoral candidates come to the attention of and are selected by Faculty members through a number of different methods, including direct communication with a candidate and/or with colleagues. 

PDF positions may also be posted through the University Careers website and an interview process may be required.  PDF candidates may be required to submit documentation to potential supervisors, such as a CV, letters of reference, official transcripts forwarded directly from the granting institutions, research papers in press or submitted, or a brief research proposal.

Prospective PDFs can:

Step 1: Reach an agreement in principle with a faculty member

Before entering into an agreement, the proposed supervisor and PDF candidate should read the Postdoctoral Fellows Policy (please note that this policy is currently under review).

The supervisor is required to informally confirm that the candidate is eligible for appointment and will work with the candidate to reach a tentative agreement regarding appointment details.

Step 2: Draft a Letter of Offer

The supervisor is required to draft a Letter of Offer using the appropriate template below, and will send it to the candidate for review. If the candidate agrees, they will submit a signed copy of the Letter of Offer to the supervisor and home department.

Step 3: Complete the Appointment Paperwork

 a) The Postdoctoral Fellow Candidate will submit the following documents to the home department:

  • Signed Registration form (form below)
  • Signed Intellectual Property Agreement (form below)
  • Current curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Proof of doctoral degree completion (e.g. scan of official diploma)
  • A colour scan of the biographical page of passport
  • Copy of External Award Letter (if applicable)
  • Copy of Permanent Resident Card (if applicable)
b) The home departmentwill ensure that all documents have been received and signed by the necessary parties.  They will compile documents, including the signed letter of offer into a single .pdf file and submit the package to CGPS for approval.

All PDF appointment packages must sent via email to the Coordinator, Postdoctoral Studies  (pdf.coordinator@usask.ca).

Step 4: College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS) Approval

The PDF appointment package is reviewed by the Associate Dean, CGPS. Once approved, a copy of the approved package is forwarded to the home department.  PDF appointments are not complete until they are approved by CGPS.

For International applicants - Upon approval by CGPS, an Offer of Employment form will be submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on behalf of the PDF. A copy of the information package will be provided to the PDF, via email, with instructions regarding obtaining a work permit. The PDF may not apply for a work permit until the email from HR immigration has been received, confirming eligibility to apply for and obtain a work permit. Upon receipt of the work permit, the PDF will submit a scanned colour copy to the home department and to the PDF Coordinator in CGPS (pdf.coordinator@usask.ca).

Step 5: Home Department completes the hiring processes

Upon receipt of the approved PDF package, the home department will submit the following:

  • Electronic Job Submission (EJS) - Please attach a copy of the appointment package to the submission.
  • All necessary Federal and Provincial tax forms 
  • A copy of the work permit and SIN letter (international PDFs only)
  • If required: NSID Account Request Form on behalf of the PDF

For International PDFs - The EJS cannot be submitted prior to the recipt of the work permit and SIN.

Supervision, Research and Teaching

Supervisor and Research Responsibilities

The Supervisor is required to:

  • Provide a research environment suitable for the completion of the research experience and that the PDF will undertake. The nature of this research should be appropriate to the PDF’s desire to gain additional skills, knowledge and expertise relevant to future career goals;
  • Manage the research space and activity to ensure compliance with University policies including certificates for Animal Care and Human Ethics; and,
  • Ensure that the original copy of research data is stored in their office or other working space for a period of five years.

The Postdoctoral Fellow:

  • Must acknowledge the role of the Supervisor in the general direction of the research, and provide all research results and conclusions to the Supervisor in a timely and cooperative manner; and,
  • Comply with the University of Saskatchewan policy on the storage of data.

PDF Research Allowances

Many agencies which provide funding to PDFs from competitions (e.g. Tri-Agency, SHRF, Mitacs, etc.) also provide small research allowances. These research allowances when administered by the University of Saskatchewan are held by a faculty member (or equivalent), who agrees to manage the funds on behalf of the PDF as per University and funding agency policies.

Different agencies have specific rules concerning these allowances which are outlined in the terms and conditions of the award.  Most granting agencies that provide these funds do so for the benefit of the PDF, not the benefit of the supervisor. These funds are intended to provide support for eligible expenses as outlined in the conditions of the award related to the PDF’s research activities (e.g. travel for meetings and conferences, journal subscriptions, computer and software, and possibly moving expenses, etc.) that might not be normally available to PDFs from the supervisor’s research funding. In the absence of regulations from the Granting Agency, all items purchased with these funds remain the property of the University of Saskatchewan.

Teaching

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. 

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.