There are three types of postdoctoral trainees at UW–Madison: Research Associates, Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Trainees. Salary/stipend, benefits and some policies vary depending on title. Type of appointment is stated in the appointment letter.
- Research Associates are usually funded from a principal investigator's grant funds or other sources.
- Postdoctoral Fellows are usually funded from a postdoctoral fellowship which is an award, made by an outside organization or agency, to the individual in question.
- Postdoctoral Trainees are usually funded from a postdoctoral traineeship which is an award, made by an outside organization or agency, to the institution for the purpose of postdoctoral training.
The salary level for a Research Associate is determined by the principal investigator and must be at or higher than the campus minimum. The stipend level for a Postdoctoral Fellow or Postdoctoral Trainee is determined by the agency or organization that provides the award.
The distinction between the different types of postdocs is very important in terms of taxes and compensation. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers Research Associates to be employees and thus payments made to Research Associates are fully taxable as wages and the University must withhold taxes from monthly paychecks in most cases. The IRS, however, does not consider Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Trainees to be employees. As a result, the University will not withhold taxes from monthly stipend checks. Stipends, however, may be taxable as income: Postdoctoral Fellows and Postdoctoral Trainees may be required to pay taxes quarterly on an estimated basis.