NSF Postdoc Survey Instructions

NSF Postdoc Survey Instructions

2020 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Frequently Asked Questions 

Timeline and Deadlines: 

  • Full department review/updates: February 22 – March 19, 2021
  • NSF Survey Data Review and Entry (RII): March 22 – April 9 2021

There are two components to the Postdoc portion of the survey.  For both components, we need to identify people who meet the definitions during Fall semester 2020, even if they did not stay at the UA for the entire semester.  

1) Postdocs, includes: 

  • Employees paid via payroll 
  • Designated Campus Colleagues (DCCs)/Visiting Postdocs paid by other sources, not UA payroll 
  • DCCs/Trainees who are paid stipends, not UA payroll  

Definition:  Postdoctoral scholar shall mean an individual who has recently completed his/her doctoral studies and who holds short-term university appointments working under the guidance and direction of a faculty mentor as the individual prepares for a career as an independent scientist and researcher.  The NSF further states that a postdoc holds a recent doctorate (PhD) or a first-professional degrees (MD, AuD, PharmD, PsyD, DDS) or a foreign degree equivalent to a U.S. doctoral degree generally awarded within the last 5–7 years; and 2) having a limited-term appointment primarily for training in research or scholarship under the supervision of a senior scholar in a unit affiliated with a GSS institution.

2)  Non-Faculty Researchers (NFR), includes: 

  • Employees  (non-TTE faculty researchers), paid UA payroll 
  • DCCs, not paid UA payroll  

Definition:  The NSF survey defines doctorate-holding non-faculty researchers as individuals involved principally in research activities who are not postdocs or members of the faculty.


Review/Verify the information for the postdocs and non-faculty researchers in your department(s):  Dashboard link (HR-Medium Analytics access is required to access the dashboard.) Please notice the dashboard has two tabs: NSF Survey – Employees and NSF Survey – DCCs to facilitate your reporting of postdocs and non-faculty researchers (NFR).

These reports attempt to identify the postdocs and non-faculty researchers, but we know it doesn’t capture everything.  Your review and additions to the list are vital to the UA submitting an accurate report.  In particular, please confirm that the classification of postdocs vs. non-faculty researchers is correct, and add anyone who doesn't appear on the report. 

  • ADD Individuals who are not on the reports, but meet the UA/NSF definition (please note the funding source)
  • ADD or CORRECT Degree information 
  • ADD DCCs that meet the definition but are paid from funds outside the UA (please note the funding)
  • ADD Trainees that are paid stipends, not payroll
  • CORRECT Individuals listed as Academic or Service Professionals who should be categorized as a Postdoc. 
  • REMOVE Individuals who do not meet the definition.


Data on postdocs are Arizona Board of Regents reportable metrics and a critical metric for our membership in the American Association of Universities (AAU). It is very important to the University that we receive accurate and timely information from the Departments. Your participation is critical to a successful survey response.  While the survey includes the words “Science and Engineering”, many disciplines are reported under the survey, and are important in reflecting the number of postdocs on our campus.  



Frequently Asked Questions 

If this is an NSF survey, do I only provide postdocs/non-faculty researchers that are NSF-funded?

No, the NSF only administers the survey, which covers postdocs and nonfaculty researchers for all funding sources. Include all your postdocs/nonfaculty researchers, including those funded by sponsored accounts, institutional funds, external funds (where the home country/institution is paying their expenses), etc.

What if the postdoc or non-faculty researcher didn't stay at the UA (or changed jobs) during Fall 2020? 

That's okay!  We want to count everyone who meets the postdoc or nonfaculty researcher definitions in the survey, whether they were in the role for one day or the whole semester (and anywhere in between). 

The survey title includes the words "Science and Engineering." If my department is not in a science or engineering field, do we still need to report our postdocs and non-faculty researchers? 

Glad you asked!  While the survey indicates "Science and Engineering," we can report postdocs and non-faculty researchers for nearly all academic disciplines.  Since the number of postdocs and non-faculty researchers is an important metric for ranking our institution, we need to count all of the people we can in this survey. 

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