Day-to-Day Responsibilities

Once you have your ID, email, and insurance, you can begin the business of being a Fellow.

fellow tips Fellow Tip: “It can take substantial time to identify and organize meetings with people at NIH and to access archival collections, so it is important to start on these things right away.”



Your Stetten Fellowship is an opportunity for you to perform your own unique research. However, you also have some responsibilities to the Office of NIH History. The Office is short-staffed and Fellows are expected to assist with events like the Research Festival. Duties may include staffing tables, handing out programs, and otherwise working with the Office staff.

It's also a responsibility of Fellows to help the Office of NIH History build the archives, collections and resources. Scientific instruments, documents, photographs and other historical records could be useful acquisitions. Keep an eye out for materials that your Institute and other contacts might be willing to donate.



As a Fellow at NIH, you are a representative of the U.S. Government, and your behavior is governed by certain rules designed to prevent the appearance of conflict of interest. For example:

  • You cannot accept gifts or favors that might make others question your impartiality toward people or organizations affected by NIH or your research.
  • You cannot give gifts or favors that might make others think you are trying to influence the impartiality of a supervisor or person of authority.
  • You cannot use NIH offices, computers, photocopiers, or other resources, or your time in the office, to do outside work.
  • You may not engage in political activities via the NIH computers. Send politically related emails from your home email. For more information see the NIH Ethics Program Political Activity page
  • You may not download music files to an NIH server.
  • You may not visit pornographic websites.
  • Any outside work during your fellowship must be approved.

For a general discussion, see the NIH Training Ethics Handbook (PDF - 4.4MB). There are some very slight variations for Fellows as opposed to employees.

You can see many specific ethical topics addressed at the NIH Ethics Program.

The complete Standard of Ethical Behavior (PDF - 192KB) that governs your actions is US 5 CFR 2635, updated May 2002.

If you have any questions about an action, ask your Administrative Assistant.

Telephone and faxes to numbers outside the United States must go through the NIH operator. They will be billed to the main office number you provide and tracked.



In a large organization such as NIH, there are set procedures for almost everything. It is extremely important to follow proper procedure whenever expenditure of funds is involved.

  • Travel (government sponsored):
  • Permission for travel must be in writing from the Director of the Office of NIH History. Compile an itinerary and cost summary to submit to the Director.
  • Sponsored Travel (outside institution paying): To prevent conflicts of interest, NIH has a complex procedure for authorizing outside payment of travel expenses. Consult with your Administrative Assistant for help.
  • Allow six weeks to complete paperwork and obtain permission.
  • Sponsoring organization must send a written invitation (e-mail is acceptable) specifying:
    — What expenses will be covered
    — Exactly who will pay (letterhead is not sufficient)
    — That no federal funds will be used
    — That no honorarium will be awarded
  • Consult with the Administrative Assistant regarding forms to be completed
  • Get permission in writing from the Director of the Office of NIH History.

fellow tips Fellow Tip: “Never spend your own money first and seek reimbursement later, for travel or anything else. Always get authorization before spending any money.”

fellow tips Fellow Tip: “I was able to get some travel money both from my Institute and the Office of NIH History. If there's something you want to attend, ask..”

fellow tips Fellow Tip: “Get your travel plans approved well in advance. No last minute travel at NIH.”


Before You Come to Bethesda > On Your First Day > In Your First Week > Day-to-Day Responsibilities > Day-to-Day Resources > Long Term

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Office of History and Stetten Museum | Bldg 60 | Suite 230 | National Institutes of Health | Bethesda, MD 20814-1460
Phone: 301.496.6610 | Email:
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Last updated: 14 February 2017
First published: 2 February 2005
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