Western Graduate & Postdoctoral  Studies

What is a Postdoctoral Scholar?

The University defines a Postdoctoral Scholar as an individual who meets the following criteria:

Length of Term

The appointment of a PDF or PDA is time-limited and not ongoing. Generally, PDFs and PDAs are appointed for a term of one to four years, with the possibility of a one year renewal.

Postdoctoral Fellow or Postdoctoral Associate?

There are two types of relationships that a Faculty Supervisor and a Postdoctoral Scholar may enter into – Postdoctoral Fellow or Postdoctoral Associate. The faculty researcher and the Postdoctoral Scholar will determine the nature of their research relationship and therefore whether the Postdoctoral Scholar is to be appointed as a Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) or a Postdoctoral Associate (PDA).

Postdoctoral Scholarship may take the form of scholarly training, with a view to preparing the Postdoctoral Scholar for subsequent full-time academic and/or research employment. In these circumstances, the Postdoctoral Scholar is referred to as a Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) and will work in cooperation with his or her faculty research mentor while receiving scholarly training. One important goal for PDFs is often to strengthen their publication record and build their curriculum vitae in order to improve their prospects for securing a permanent faculty position or other research employment.

In some cases, the Postdoctoral Scholar is engaged primarily to support the faculty supervisor’s research. In these circumstances, the Postdoctoral Scholar is referred to as a Postdoctoral Associate (PDA), and he or she will work under the direction of the faculty supervisor. The PDA will be in an employment relationship with the University and the terms and conditions of his or her working relationship with the faculty supervisor will be governed by the collective agreement with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).

Before seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Scholar, faculty researchers must assess the type of research relationship they are seeking to engage in with the Postdoctoral Scholar. This assessment will then inform any subsequent discussion with the prospective Postdoctoral Scholar, and shape the research relationship as either being PDF or PDA.

Please note, however, that Postdoctoral Scholars who are funded directly by a granting agency and do not receive payment through the Western Human Resources system are not eligible for the PDA employment status.

Postdoctoral Fellows:

Postdoctoral Associates: