By tradition, postdocs have often been invited to work in a researcher 's lab with no more formality than a phone call or a handshake. Institutions are now beginning the good practice of issuing a formal letter of appointment that contains important contractual elements. The following model is offered to faculty by the postdoctoral office of one university:
Initial Letter of Appointment Outline
In return for working on the adviser's project and with low monetary compensation, the postdoc has the right to expect good mentoring: oversight, feedback, sympathetic consultation, and periodic evaluations. There should be opportunities to present posters and papers and to learn manuscript writing and grant proposal writing. The mentor-trainee relationship can be crucial in helping the postdoc understand the context of his or her research and the requirements of a career focused on advanced research.
The postdoc shares responsibility for making this relationship work, and should understand the multiple demands on the adviser's time. Like any personal relationship, the success of mentoring depends on good will and clear communication by both parties.