The Appointment Process

There are five critical steps that must be taken in order to register your postdoctoral appointment at Western:

As a general rule, to become a postdoctoral scholar you must first contact a researcher at Western who shares your research interests and can, therefore, serve as your faculty supervisor or faculty research mentor.

Items for discussion: 

  • Compensation
  • Time off (holidays, sick days)
  • Travel costs or moving expenses
  • Professional development
  • Teaching opportunities

There are two different appointment types (PDF or PDA). Typically, there are three potential sources of financial support for Postdoctoral Scholars:

  • a fellowship from an external agency;
  • a fellowship or salary paid through a professor's grants or contracts; or,
  • a fellowship or salary paid by a research unit of the University. 

Faculty members may recruit postdoctoral scholars directly by whatever method they deem appropriate, e.g. personal contacts, response to inquiries, advertisements in the local, national or international press. If you would like to get in touch with a researcher at Western who shares your research interests, you may contact an academic department directly.


Questions to Ask in Choosing a Supervisor

The best time for a postdoc to evaluate a potential postdoctoral position is before signing on. It is difficult to adjust the major conditions of an appointment once it is underway. Experienced postdocs and faculty mentors suggest the following questions be asked of (and about) a prospective mentor:

  • What are the supervisor's expectations of the postdoc?
  • How many postdocs has this supervisor had? Where did they go afterward?
  • What do current and past lab members think about their experience?
  • Will the supervisor have time for supervision? Or should I seek out a different supervisor?
  • How many others (grad students, staff, and postdocs) now work for this supervisor?
  • How many papers are being published? Where?
  • Will I have practice in grant writing? Teaching/mentoring? Oral presentations? Review of manuscripts?
  • How long is financial support guaranteed? On what does renewal depend on?
  • Can I count on help in finding a position?
  • Will the mentor have adequate research funds to support the proposed? Research?

Excerpt from "Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineering, A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies," National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

The complete guide can be found here.

  • Initiate an appointment by completing the Postdoctoral Scholar Appointment Form
    • Identify your mentors
  • Upon completing the form, your supervisor/mentor will be alerted to this proposed appointment via email and be prompted to confirm additional details (duration, salary etc.) 
  • An email will be directed to you upon your supervisor’s authorization summarizing the details of your appointment and delivering an official e-letter detailing your incoming appointment

*If you are neither a Canadian citizen nor permanent resident, you must apply for a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) “work permit” in your current country of residence. For more information relating to this application contact Mihaela Harmos to begin this process.

  • You are required to sign either a Postdoctoral Fellow Agreement or a Letter of Appointment, arranged by your incoming home department, depending upon the nature of your appointment. This must be completed prior to the commencement of the appointment.
  • Submit your approved Professional Development Plan
  • Submit your agreement or letter, proof of your Ph.D. degree and, if applicable, your Canadian Work Permit, to SGPS (IGAB 1N07)
  • SGPS will validate and forward your appointment confirmation and supporting documents to Human Resources for processing. This process can take 1‐5 days.

*Most services available to scholars at Western cannot be accessed until this process is complete.

SGPS asks each new postdoctoral scholar to identify two individuals outside of your supervisor who will actively participate in your mentorship while you attend Western as a Postdoctoral Scholar.  Your mentors can be a faculty member, industry partner, or community leader whose role is to provide support and guidance to the postdoctoral scholars in achieving their career goals successfully. Most importantly your mentors should commit to advancing your career as a Postdoctoral Scholar. This involves regular and thoughtful discussions of the strengths and limitations of ongoing research as well as attention to the development of skills and experiences that will advance your career.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with two mentors please contact Mihaela Harmos (mharmos@uwo.ca) for assistance.

The Professional Development Plan (PDP) for Postdoctoral Scholars at Western University is a professional tool which formalizes long-term and short-term expectations that you and your postdoctoral mentor(s)/supervisor(s) have identified as goals in your successful professional development at Western. A comprehensive review of your career goals and objectives at the beginning of your postdoctoral experience, as well as ongoing constructive feedback from your postdoctoral mentor/supervisor, will increase the probability of achieving your individual goals by defining the time and resources required.  A plan will be made available to you after submitting your contract to The School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

In order to renew your Postdoctoral Scholar appointment, you will need to complete the above appointment process. Please note, however, that the maximum period that an individual can be appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar at Western is five years.