Membership Policy

Policies about NANOGrav membership levels and responsibilities

1. Purpose

The goal of this policy is to define membership to encourage an environment in which the members of NANOGrav can work together productively, efficiently, and with collegiality. All members are expected to make a meaningful contribution to the Collaboration and are encouraged to publish NANOGrav results as expediently as possible. Meaningful contributions that warrant membership include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of data acquisition systems to provide high-quality data
  • Analyzing astrophysical implications of NANOGrav results
  • Searching for new millisecond pulsars to add to the array and improve sensitivity
  • Development of new data analysis techniques that shall directly benefit NANOGrav
  • Development of tools and algorithms for optimizing NANOGrav observations
  • Studies of ancillary astrophysical work within NANOGrav
  • Management work within NANOGrav
  • Mentoring a student or postdoctoral research associate in NANOGrav projects
  • Financial support for personnel, hardware or telescope access time
  • Carrying out observations for NANOGrav
  • Carrying out timing analyses of NANOGrav data for gravitational-wave related work
  • Data management
  • Development of cyber-infrastructure for NANOGrav

2. Levels of Membership

Five levels of membership exist for individuals fulfilling the above requirements:


Junior Members

are undergraduate students who contribute to NANOGrav by carrying out relevant research with an Associate or Full Member.

Associate Members

are undergraduate students, graduate students, post-docs or senior researchers/faculty members who have been accepted as members according to the process described below within the past 12 months, or who have not been promoted to Full Membership status.

Full Members

are graduate students, post-docs or senior researchers/faculty members who have completed at least 12 months in the Collaboration and have had their membership status reviewed by the process described below. Within this category are Senior Personnel, who are Full Members with permanent positions, or in positions that they sustain through research funding, and who have been Full Members of NANOGrav for at least two years. They have additional service and voting responsibilities as defined below and in the by-laws.

Legacy Members

are former Full Members who are no longer active (e.g. have moved out of the field, or joined a different collaboration) but have a lasting contribution to the Collaboration either through partial ongoing work or recent development (e.g. of software which they are still being consulted about).

Institutional Members

are organizations with which NANOGrav has executed a Memorandum of Understanding. The rights and responsibilities of Institutional Members are defined exclusively by their MoU with NANOGrav.

3. Membership Process

Membership in NANOGrav is open to any researcher who is willing to contribute to NANOGrav's goals of detecting and studying gravitational waves via pulsar timing. New Associate membership requests should be submitted in writing and should include a concise description of the contribution the potential member intends to make. In the case of undergraduate students, the request should be co-authored by their proposed mentor. Potential new members are encouraged to contact any Full Member of NANOGrav for help in writing the request. New membership requests shall be accepted by the Collaboration continually throughout the year. Each request shall be reviewed by the Full Membership and discussed at the next NANOGrav meeting.

Unless any Full Member voices an objection, the membership application shall be accepted, and the person applying may become an Associate Member as defined above. In the case of one or more objections, the membership application shall be subject to a vote among all Full Members and accepted in the case of a majority vote. Upon acceptance, incoming members automatically gain the status of Associate Membership for a period of one year. After this time, a non-undergraduate Associate member may request Full Membership by emailing the NANOGrav Chair with a statement describing their accomplishments as an Associate Member, along with their goals and expected contributions to NANOGrav in the coming year. The Senior Personnel shall then review the case and can approve it with a supermajority vote.

Undergraduate students may become Junior Members by being so designated by their (Associate or Full Member) mentors. Alternatively, undergraduates may apply for Associate Membership according to the process above.

Each year, by June 30, all existing Full or Associate Members must submit a statement clearly describing their accomplishments in the past 12 months along with their goals, expected contributions to, and requested status within NANOGrav in the coming year. A group assigned by the NANOGrav Management Team shall review the statements every year. The review process shall respect any leave of absence (e.g. family or medical reasons) when evaluating contributions. The Management Team shall make decisions to allow:

  • A Full or Associate Member to continue their current status
  • A Full or Associate Member to continue their current status but with a warning

In the case of an Associate Member requesting an upgrade to Full Membership, the Senior Personnel shall review the case and can approve it with a supermajority vote. Conversion to Legacy Membership is normally a voluntary transition, but, if upon review of the statements, the Management Team deems that conversion is warranted, the member shall be encouraged to step down within the next year. In rare cases, the Senior Personnel, by supermajority, may vote a person into Legacy membership.

Organizations wishing to become Institutional Members negotiate their MoU with the Management Team, which shall consult with the Full Members during the negotiations. The final MoU shall be presented to the Full Members for ratification. The MoU will become active following ratification. Ratification of Institutional Member MoUs requires a supermajority of the Full Members voting. Institutional Member MoUs shall be reviewed yearly, or on another schedule as specified in the executed MoU. Institutional Membership may be terminated upon agreement of both parties, at the yearly review by a supermajority vote of all Full Members, or at any other time upon recommendation of the Management Team and a supermajority vote of all Full Members voting.

4. Expectations

NANOGrav members are expected to participate, be collegial, and abide by the Collaboration’s decisions and by-laws. A breach of these expectations may be grounds for expulsion. NANOGrav members must also adhere to the Astronomical Society Ethics Statement. A breach of these professional ethics is grounds for expulsion. Expulsion requires a supermajority vote among all Senior Personnel.