Postdoctoral Services


Postdoctoral Scholars are valued members of the University community. As trained researchers, they can make significant contributions to both the research environment of the University and to their chosen field. In seeking an opportunity to train or work further in a particular area of research, they are expected to work collegially and collaboratively with their faculty researcher.

The Postdoctoral Scholar appointment process at Western is administered by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Mihaela Harmos, Postdoctoral Services Coordinator, is the primary contact for all inquiries related to appointments, as well as Banting and Elevate-MITACS funding competitions.

What is a Postdoctoral Scholar?

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

  • the individual has received their doctoral degree within five years;
  • the individual holds a postdoctoral appointment that is time limited, for a period of up to four years (i.e., counted from the first appointment at Western), with the possibility of a one-year renewal (for a maximum length of five years);
  • the appointment involves full-time research, scholarship, and creative activity;
  • the individual is encouraged and expected to publish and disseminate their research during the period of the appointment; and
  • the individual will work independently in association with a faculty mentor.

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 (PDF) or Postdoctoral Associate (PDA).

Before seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Scholar, faculty researchers must assess the source of funding, which will determine whether the prospective Postdoctoral Scholar is a Fellow (PDF) or an Associate (PDA).

Postdoctoral Fellows
Postdoctoral Scholars who receive more than 90% of their funding from an external source (awarded to the postdoc, not to the supervisor) are not eligible for employment status and are viewed as independent contractors. These postdoctoral scholars are designated as Postdoctoral Fellows (PDF).

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Receive a T4A for earnings (subject to income tax, but not taxed at source unless request made in writing to Human Resources)
  • Are not subject to statutory deductions for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or Employment Insurance (EI) and are not eligible for the related benefits

Postdoctoral Associates
Postdoctoral Scholars who receive more than 10% of their funding from "internal" sources (i.e. from a supervisor's research grants or contracts, or from a research unit of the university), are considered employees of Western. In these circumstances, the Postdoctoral Scholar is a Postdoctoral Associate (PDA) and he or she will be in an employment relationship with the University. 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).

Postdoctoral Associates:

  • Receive a T4 for earnings and will be taxed at source automatically
  • Are subject to statutory deductions for CPP, EI, and income taxes
  • Are represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) in their relationship with the University, and are threfore governed by that collective agreement and are subject to deductions for union dues

Please note:  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.