Guidelines for Postdoctoral Engagements at IIASA

Endorsed by the IIASA Internal Research Committee: 15 September 2017

Recognizing that a researcher’s postdoctoral engagement – typically stretching from being awarded a PhD degree until entering a permanent position – is a particularly precious period during which the researcher gradually becomes independent whilst still developing his or her scientific competences and professional skills, the IIASA Postdoctoral Program and its bilateral extensions with IIASA NMO countries strive to generate win-win situations through which postdoctoral researchers and IIASA create mutual benefits in a spirit of co-design, cooperation, and good mentorship. 

To maximize opportunities for intensive collaborative experiences, IIASA has established the following guidelines for postdoctoral engagements.

Hosting and mentorship

To give postdoctoral researchers access to a broad and interdisciplinary range of scientific expertise, models and methods, networking opportunities, and research perspectives, more than one of IIASA’s research programs may be designated as their hosts; the involved programs will agree on how to share the resultant mentorship responsibilities.  

Core research agenda

The main focus of the postdoctoral engagement is the core research agenda as described in the postdoctoral researcher’s employment contract. This task description should be co-developed and reflect the postdoctoral researcher’s interests and skills and the hosting programs’ research agendas, supervisory capacities, and strategic priorities. Key objectives of this core research agenda are a profound integration of the postdoctoral researcher into the hosting programs’ activities and the optimal utilization of IIASA-specific opportunities for capacity development and academic training. As deemed appropriate in each case, the initial core research agenda is co-designed in more specific or more general terms, building on and reconciling information in the postdoctoral researcher’s application and inputs from the hosting programs. During the course of a postdoctoral engagement, the initial core research agenda can be modified through mutual agreement. To accomplish the aforementioned win-win situations creating mutual benefits for the postdoctoral researcher and for IIASA, it is anticipated that the work undertaken will contribute to the following outcomes: develop or integrate an innovative approach in a methodology or analysis, enhance the network of individuals or organizations collaborating with IIASA, and complete and submit one or more peer-reviewed research papers per year. 

Non-IIASA activities

Recognizing that postdoctoral researchers might benefit from pursuing certain non-IIASA commitments, including work on concluding research efforts prior to joining IIASA, up to 15 days of consultancy leave are available for this purpose annually. Larger investments into non-IIASA research are in general discouraged and require the hosting programs’ approval.  

Program-specific activities

The efficient integration of postdoctoral researchers into their hosting programs is facilitated by their participation in program-specific coordination efforts and program-specific research activities. To the maximum extent possible, these engagements should be established in mutual agreement. Over an annual timeframe, program-specific coordination effort should not exceed 10% and program-specific research activities should not exceed 25% of a postdoctoral researcher’s total working time.  

Regular review and advice

Half-yearly discussions between postdoctoral researchers and the mentors in their hosting programs ensure that achievements are documented and evaluated, next steps and potential adaptations of the core research agenda are agreed upon, options for YSSP supervision and grant applications are identified and implemented, collaborative opportunities are assessed and realized, and growth prospects and wider career-development goals and discussed and pursued. After one year of employment at IIASA, postdoctoral researchers will prepare a self-assessment report, for informing the aforementioned discussions and for providing the basis for a potential endorsement by hosting programs to offer their support for an additional year of postdoctoral engagement at IIASA. 

Contract Offers

After the selection process is completed, successful applicants will be contacted by their hosting programs to agree on a task descriptions summarizing the planned core research agenda. The associated communication is to be completed as swiftly as possible and will be mentioned in the subsequent official notification and contract offer. 

Contract offers for postdoctoral researchers will include the following elements:

  • The guidelines above.
  • A summary of the agreed core research agenda. 

For the IIASA Postdoctoral Program’s bilateral extensions with IIASA NMO countries, procedures will be coordinated accordingly.

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Last edited: 22 November 2018


Aleksandra Cofala

Postdoc Coordinator & YSSP Administrative Assistant

Young Scientists Summer Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 436


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