Post. Doc. Research Associate, Post. Doc. Training Fellow and Post. Doc. Research Assistant - diff?

14-Nov-19, 21:16
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 6 months ago
Hi all,

Apologies if this might sound like a basic question, but I am trying to get the correct clear definitions of and the distinction between Post. Doc. Research Associate, Post. Doc. Training Fellow and Post. Doc. Research Assistant, particularly for the UK, where I am based. I understand that a Research assistant can be of any level of qualification. However, I am trying to differentiate between all the Ph.D./ Doctoral roles bearing these titles

I've looked around, and for example, found this:
but it's making it even less certain given the differences in opinion.

I'd be most grateful if someone could define these roles and elaborate on them, particularly in regards to seniority, experience required and teaching duties etc...

Many thanks,
15-Nov-19, 08:21
edited about 19 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 6 months ago
Hi. I have not spent long time in academia in the UK but I looked at many jobs and can write what I know.
Research associate: is a Postdoc, mostly in early stage. Just finished a PhD and has 0-4 years of experience.
Research assistant: can be either a Postdoc or Master holder. Some universities/departments advertise all their Postdoc jobs as "research assistant". This does not mean that Research associate is absolutely higher in seniority. The two terms "assistant" and "associate" are used sometimes interchangeably. But research associate always requires a PhD in all posts I have seen while "assistant" sometimes Master is enough. I do not know about Postdoc training fellow.
In terms of teaching, as a general rule, Research assistants and associates engage in small teaching duties or lab assistance unless otherwise stated in job description.
15-Nov-19, 09:47
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 6 months ago
I think there are differences in ambition and independence. Like a research associate is the typical post-doc with a set project and supervisor but freedom of work. While an assistant is told exactly what to do and hands over the data to a supervisor. Though a post-doc fellowship is an opportunity to do your own research with minimal supervision, you also have your own budget and more is expected of you. A post-doc fellow seems very cushy and you have a lot of scope to develop your own interests and skills

Again, not an expert and my uni mostly has a post-doc associates and post-doc fellows with very few if no post-doc assistants. The research assistants usually have a Masters but interestingly enough most of the technicians have PhDs.
15-Nov-19, 09:51
edited about 2 minutes later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 6 months ago
I am not sure there is much difference in practice between fellow and associate. I have had a position entitled research fellow and the job spec is similar to the one I am now starting which is entitled research associate. I can't see what the difference is apart from terminology in this case. Perhaps it could also be to do with where the funding is coming from and what the institution or funder likes to call their postdocs.

A research assistant tends to have a lower entry level although not always, and they may get paid less regardless of qualification level (but again depends on the specific job).
15-Nov-19, 11:46
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 6 months ago
This is great. Thank you all!


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