SF State HRSRM | Employee & Labor Relations

Research Fellow Guidelines
Practice Directive P114
September 2002


114.1 Research Fellow (Postdoctoral Researcher or Postdoctoral Scholar) appointments provide individuals who have completed the requirements of a terminal academic degree program (or all the requirements except the dissertation) with an opportunity to work on a research project or study for the California State University (CSU).  Under the mentorship of a principal investigator (PI) or administrator, the Research Fellow performs a variety of work in support of a research project or scholarly activity.  Incumbents often provide supervision and support to undergraduate and/or graduate students working on the project.  The Research Fellow classification is an excluded classification within the CSU classification structure.  Appointments are temporary in nature and employees in this classification do not   receive permanent status and do not earn seniority points.  Research Fellow positions are generally funded through grants, contracts, or other sources of non General Fund money.


114.2  In accordance with the University commitment to diversity, PIs shall make efforts to identify and recruit candidates for Research Fellow appointments from among groups that have been historically under-represented in the California State University.

114.3 All Research Fellow appointments and salary increases shall be reviewed and approved by the Associate Vice President (AVP) of Research and the Director of Human Resources.


114.4 Length of Appointment:  Appointments to the Research Fellow classification are usually for a period of one to three years, commencing with receipt of a research doctorate, or in exceptional cases, may commence when the scholar’s dissertation is pending.  Exceptions may be made for individuals whose doctorate was earned in the past but who seek Research Fellow appointments as a method of re-entry into the scientific community or to facilitate a change in research focus.  In some cases, faculty members may wish to extend an individual’s Research Fellow appointment beyond the third year.  In such cases, the faculty member shall submit a written request to the AVP of Research, prior to the end of the third year, outlining the circumstances that make it desirable for the individual to continue.   Appointments to this classification shall not extend beyond six years.

114.5 Recruitment: Since Research Fellows come to the campus from all over the world, and are supported by many different funding agencies, departments or individual faculty members may advertise and recruit widely for applicants.  Some faculty may receive unsolicited inquiries from potential applicants.  Often, consideration of an individual for a Research Fellow appointment is not the result of recruitment or advertisement, but is based on a recommendation by a colleague.

114.6 International Research Fellows: ORSP will generally sponsor a J-1 visa for appointees to the Research Fellow classification.  Although most Research Fellows are eligible for University sponsored health coverage, all J-1 non-immigrant status scholars and their J-2 dependents are required by law to have Repatriation, Medical Evacuation, and AD&D Insurance.  These types of insurance are not covered by University health plans, and the scholar is required to pay the necessary premium for the duration of their appointment.

114.7 Compensation: The salary range for this classification is very broad in order to recognize the different rates prevailing in different academic disciplines.  The broad salary range allows the CSU, as a non-PhD granting university, to successfully recruit and retain Research Fellows and acknowledges the challenges of recruiting Fellows who may be under-represented in a particular field, particularly when the stated purpose of the research grant providing support is to recruit and provide support to such individuals.  Most often, the salaries of Research Fellows on a particular program are determined by the funding agency’s own guidelines and the terms and conditions of the proposal budget.

114.8 Salary increases may be granted on a yearly basis, taking into consideration raises granted to other campus employees performing work of a similar nature, the grant budget, the guidelines of the funding agency, the performance of the individual Research Fellow, and/or the scope of the program with which the Fellow is involved. Other considerations may include contributions to the regular work of the campus, including supervision and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students, and classroom teaching.  Salary increases will normally be between 2% and 10%.

114.9 Benefits:  Eligibility for health, dental, vision, disability, retirement, and other employee benefits plans are outlined in CSU Technical letter HR2002-22, dated August 1, 2002.  Additionally, vacation is accrued at the rate of 6.667 hours per month and sick leave at eight hours per month.  Practices regarding the use of sick and vacation leave use are in accordance with University guidelines.  University I.D. cards may be issued to Research Fellows.  The ID card provides the Research Fellow with access to a variety of University services and facilities including library use, etc.

114.10 Additional and Outside Employment:  Research Fellows are not eligible for additional employment within the CSU, which includes appointments through the College of Extended Learning, Special Consultant appointments, appointments at other CSU campuses, or at auxiliaries in the CSU system.  Outside employment is permissible as long as it does not conflict with the responsibilities and duties of the employee, with regularly scheduled work assignments, or satisfactory performance of all duties of the employee.  Upon written request by the appropriate administrator, the Fellow shall provide a written statement of the amount and approximate distribution of time devoted to continuous outside employment during the term in which he/she has been appointed.


114.11 Recruitment documents for Research Fellow openings shall be submitted to the Personnel Manager of ORSP for review at least two weeks prior to publication.

114.12 In cases where there is a formal recruitment process, the PI shall submit all applications and relevant materials to the Personnel Manager of ORSP, together with the Employment Recommendation Form for Research Fellow Appointment (PF #114B).  The materials shall include a list of the candidates interviewed, an outline of the selection process, and a justification for the initial salary rate being recommended.  The Recommendation Form shall also reference the account number from which the Research Fellow is to be paid as well as the start and end date of the appointment and the time base.

114.13 For international Research Fellows, as soon as a PI knows that he/she wishes to make an offer to a non-US citizen to come to SFSU as a Research Fellow, the PI shall contact the Personnel Manager for ORSP in order to arrange an appropriate visa.  Such arrangements may take several weeks or months, so preparation should begin as early as possible.

114.14 The Personnel Manager for ORSP shall prepare a Research Fellow Appointment Form
(PF #114-C) as well as a letter of appointment.  The letter will specify the length of appointment (generally reflecting the budget end date of the grant providing the support for the Research Fellow), the source of support, the name of the sponsoring faculty member, and the compensation level.  The appointment letter will also specify that continuation in a Research Fellow appointment is contingent upon continued funding, budget, the personnel needs of the project, and most importantly, the continued satisfactory performance of the Research Fellow.

114.15  The Research Fellow Appointment Form and recommendation for initial salary or salary increase shall be approved by the AVP of Research and submitted to the Human Resources Director for final approval and processing.  The AVP of Research will approve initial salary rates and salary increases within the guidelines outlined in 114.7 and 114.8 above.  Requests for salary increases shall be initiated by the PI, and submitted to the AVP of Research.  Requests shall be accompanied by a performance evaluation.

114.16 Research Fellows shall complete hiring documents before starting work.  Required documents include: Employee Action Request (EAR), Oath of Allegiance, Designation of Person Authorized to Receive Warrants, Immigration Reform and Control Act Form I-9, Biographical Information (P 002-A), and the Research Fellow Application Form (PF 114A).

114.17  Research Fellows will complete and submit, on a monthly basis, an Absence and Additional Time Worked Report (Form 637), signed by the PI and the Research Fellow.


Research Fellow Application Form, PF#114A
Employment Recommendation Form for Research Fellow Appointment, PF #114B
Research Fellow Appointment Form, PF #114C
Chancellor’s Office Technical Memo HR 2002-22
Classification & Qualification Standards, Research Fellow

Human Resources Department - San Francisco State University