Academic Employment Guidelines for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Associates

The following guidelines for graduate students and postdoctoral associates are part of the ACS Academic Professional Guidelines, which provide recommended standards for the roles and responsibilities of college faculty. Graduate and post-docs engaged in undergraduate research are encouraged to implement these guidelines.

To learn more about ACS standards and guidelines for faculty, read the Academic Professional Guidelines.

Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Associate Responsibilities to Faculty and Institutions

  • The student should demonstrate honesty, integrity, and diligence in the conduct of research, teaching, and in the completion of academic courses. The graduate student should diligently pursue coursework and, as appropriate, teaching and thesis research. Included in this obligation is the timely completion of manuscripts, publications, and a dissertation.
  • Students should be fully aware of the ethical, legal, health, and safety implications of their education, research, and teaching.
  • Students and postdoctoral associates should take personal responsibility for understanding, practicing, and promoting appropriate safety procedures.
  • Students have the responsibility to vigorously pursue educational opportunities directed toward becoming professionals.
  • Students should broaden their educational and professional development through experiences such as industrial internships, coursework in other disciplines, and other experiential programs.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to monitor progress in coursework, consult with appropriate individuals when difficulty arises, and cooperate in efforts to resolve these difficulties. The student should seek further guidance from an appropriate higher academic or administrative level if a problem cannot be resolved with the faculty member.
  • The research student or postdoctoral associate should consult the supervising faculty advisor/mentor at appropriate intervals regarding progress and should openly discuss relevant technical and administrative problems. If a problem cannot be resolved with the faculty advisor/mentor, the graduate student or postdoctoral associate should seek further guidance from an appropriate higher academic or administrative level.
  • The student should honor commitments relating to teaching and research. The student should recognize that the faculty member devotes significant time and effort to classroom teaching, supervision of research, and other professional activities. The commitment by the faculty member should be matched by the student.
  • Students should maintain open lines of communication with other students and with faculty members.
  • Students should clearly understand their rights and obligations related to intellectual property and authorship, keep accurate and complete laboratory notebooks and records to document their work and ideas, and communicate their results as appropriate.
  • Mentoring opportunities should be actively sought. More experienced students should serve as mentors and educators for others. Prospective mentors should seek professional development opportunities to increase their mentoring skills.
  • Postdoctoral associates should recognize their dual role as both employees and scientific peers of their research mentor. Postdoctoral appointments should be considered a shortterm transitional period between graduate school and an independent professional position.
  • Postdoctoral appointments should broaden the base of the associate’s knowledge and be of mutual benefit to the associate and host laboratory.