Research fellow

A research fellow is an academic research position at a university or a similar research institution, usually for academic staff or faculty members. A research fellow may act either as an independent investigator or under the supervision of a principal investigator.

In contrast to a research assistant, the position of research fellow normally requires a doctoral degree, or equivalent work experience for instance in industry and research centers. Some research fellows undertake postdoctoral research or have some moderate teaching responsibilities. Research fellow positions vary in different countries and academic institutions. In some cases, they are permanent with the possibility of promotion, while in other instances they are temporary.

United Kingdom

In many universities this position is a career grade of a Research Career Pathway, following on from a postdoctoral position such as research associate, and may be open-ended, subject to normal probation regulations. Within such a path, the next two higher career grades are usually senior research fellow and professorial fellow. Although similar to the position of a research fellow, these two positions are research only posts, with the rise of the career grade there will normally be a formal requirement of a moderate amount of teaching and/or supervision (often at postgraduate level).

In some universities, research career grades roughly correspond to the grades of the Teaching and Scholarship Career Pathways in the following way: research fellow—lecturer, professorial fellow—professor, whereas senior research fellow is somewhere between a reader and a senior lecturer. However, at some top universities, a senior research fellowship may be a position of comparable academic standing to a full professorship at these universities, without any teaching requirements.[1]

In the past, the term research fellow often referred to a junior researcher, who worked on a specific project on a temporary basis. Research fellows tended to be paid either from central university funds or by an outside organisation such as a charity or company, or through an external grant-awarding body such as a research council or a royal society, for example in the Royal Society University Research Fellowship.[2] Particularly in Oxbridge style colleges, research fellows appointed as fellows of a college tended to, or still do, partially receive remuneration in form of college housing and subsistence. Colleges may award junior research fellowships as the equivalent of post-doctoral research posts, lasting for three or four years.


In India, the position of research fellowship is provided to scholars from various streams like science, arts, literature, management and others. Research fellowship is funded by government academic and research institutes, and private companies as well. Research fellows research under the supervision of experienced faculty, professor, head of department, Dean on two different posts known as junior research fellow(JRF) and senior research fellow(SRF). Research organisations like ICAR, CSIR, UGC, ICMR, SERB recruit research fellows through National Eligibility Test. After the completion of pre-defined tenure, JRF can be considered for senior research fellowship based on research fellow's performance & interview conducted by committee by research institute, research fellow is working with. There are multiple academic institutions that conduct research based Fellow Programmes in India. Some of these institutions include Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Indian Institute of Management Shillong, Indian School of Business Mohali, National School of Leadership Pune and XLRI - Xavier School of Management Jamshedpur,Kunwar Viyogi Memorial Trust Uttar Pradesh.

Russian Federation

In the Russian Federation, the position and title research fellow is unknown; however, there is a broadly similar position of (Russian: Научный сотрудник, literally "scientific worker"). This position normally requires a degree of Candidate of Sciences approximately corresponding to the PhD. More senior positions normally require, in addition to the aforementioned degree, a track record of publications or certified inventions, as well as practical contributions to major research and development projects.[3]

Hierarchy of researching positions in the Russian Academy of Sciences[4]
Translation (variant)OriginalRussian abbreviationScientific degree or job seniority requiredNumber of publications required
junior researcherмладший научный сотрудникм. н. с.Candidate of Sciences or 3 years1 in 5 years
researcherнаучный сотрудникн. с.Candidate of Sciences or 5 years3 in 5 years
senior researcherстарший научный сотрудникс. н. с.Candidate of Sciences or 10 years5 in 5 years
leading researcherведущий научный сотрудникв. н. с.Doctor of Sciences or Candidate of Sciences (in exceptionary cases)7 in 5 years
principal researcherглавный научный сотрудникг. н. с.Doctor of Sciences10 in 5 years

South Africa

Research fellows in South Africa are considered as the best asset to research organisations and universities. There are highly ranked universities like University of the Witwatersrand, University of Stellenbosch Business School, Rhodes University which offers fellowship to South Africa's nationals in a certain field of research.[5]

See also


  1. "All Souls College Oxford: Categories of Fellowship". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  2. Anon (2017). "University Research Fellowship". Archived from the original on 2016-02-03.
  3. "Квалификационный справочник: Ведущий научный сотрудник" [Qualification Requirements for Positions of Managers, Specialists and other Employees]. Archived from the original on 2010-05-29. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
  4. "Постановления Президиума РАН". Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  5. "Research Fellowship in South Africa"
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