This article is reposted here, with permission, from FASEB Newsletter, Vol 5, No. 6, December 2001 
In order to have an informed discussion regarding best practices for training, mentoring, salary and other benefits for post-doctoral fellows, FASEB's Science Policy Committee (SPC) felt it important to first define who falls into this group. FASEB has now approved a definition of post-doctoral fellows, which describes this group of scientists and characterizes the appointment. The definition states that a post-doctoral fellow is:
FASEB , the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is a 21-member coalition representing over 60,000 biomedical and life scientists. The coalition serves the public policy interests of its members. In addition to adopting the Definition of Postdoctoral Fellows, FASEB has made the education and professional development of postdocs  a public policy priority.
An appointee recently awarded a Ph.D or equivalent doctorate (e.g., Sc.D., M.D.) in an appropriate field
The appointment is temporary
The appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship
The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full-time academic and/or research career
The appointment is not part of a clinical training program, unless research training under the supervision of a senior mentor is a primary purpose of the appointment
The appointee works under the supervision of a senior scholar or a department in a university or similar research institution (e.g., national laboratory, NIH, etc.); and
The appointee has the freedom, and is expected, to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.
The SPC Training and Career Opportunities Subcommittee is currently working two "next steps:" a statement regarding availability and access to health, retirement, and other benefits for post-docs; and an "Individual Development Plan" to be used as a guide for identifying developmental needs and career objectives. The document would be used as a basis for discussions between post-docs and their mentors.