Offer LetterLanguage to insert into an offer letter or pre-tenure agreement

"Although every recruitment is unique, emphasis on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary scholarship is becoming quite common.  Research institutions wanting to encourage collaborative research while promoting development of bright early career researchers need to establish well-defined guidelines for review and reward of those who engage in interdisciplinary scholarship.

"It is crucial that offer letters explicitly delineate what is expected of both the institution and the individual scholar.  The template below identifies a set of questions the answers to which ought to be clear from either the offer letter or ancillary communications with the recruit.

"Participating in or leading an interdisciplinary research project

"Role, Responsibilities, Expectations

  1. What will be the role of the individual?
  2. What will be expected of the early career scholar?
  3. How will success be defined for those participating in interdisciplinary research?  Leading an interdisciplinary team?
  4. What will be the role of the department chair?
  5. What will be expected of the department chair?

"Review and Reward

  1. Success:  What criteria will be used to assess the progress and success of the scholar for interdisciplinary work?
  2. Sharing credit and data:  How will data sharing, processes for access to data, authorship decisions be reviewed and assessed?


  1. How will the early career scholar be mentored in interdisciplinary research?  (Individual mentor, mentoring committee, etc.)
  2. What will be expected of the scholar in mentoring his or her own lab/team members?
  3. What training is expected and/or required of those participating in or leading interdisciplinary efforts?

"Joint Appointments

  1. Identify the departments/organizations involved in supporting the scholar
  2. State that the departments/organizations are committed to the tenure-track scholar
  3. State who will be responsible for the administration of the scholar (performance reviews, HR, budget tracking, etc.) and define administrative home
  4. Which resources will be provided by which department/organization
  5. Commit to annual review and define who will participate
  6. Establish a procedure to follow in case of disagreement
  7. Establish a procedure to follow should any party decide to withdraw or significantly alter the agreement.”

Quoted from page 134-35 in Bennett, L. M., Gadlin, H., Marchand, C. (2018). Collaboration and Team Science Field Guide. 2nd edn., National Institutes of Health Publication No. 18-7660, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, United States of America.

This material was written in the context of team science.  Our emphasis is broader.  Therefore we substituted "scholarship" or "research" for "science" in the text and "scholar" for "scientist".  We left the title of the manuscript quoted as Team Science so it can be found.