At Uppsala universitet there are currently open positions as mathematics postdoc and as researchers. The announcement texts are identical, aside from this part (and clarification on it) that is missing from the researcher position:

To be eligible for a position as postdoctoral researcher the applicant's PhD degree must have been obtained no more than three years prior to the application date; however, for example periods of sick leave or parental leave are deducted from the three-year period.

What is the difference between researcher and postdoc in the Swedish system in general, or Uppsala university in specific?

  • The general model goes like this. You complete your Ph.D, then you do a postdoc, then you begin your real job. I guess the three-year requirement is there to prevent those who cannot get a real job from doing repetated postdocs, swamping the postdoc market, preventing new Ph.D.s from getting them.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:45
  • @GEdgar And what is the role of the "researcher" position in this general model?
    – Tommi
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 12:49
  • 1
    @GEdgar I know plenty of people who have been in postdocs for 5, 10, 15, 20 years and counting. There's well over 100 postdocs in the department where I work, including 12 out of 14 people in the group where I work. What you describe may be the model, but the model no longer accurately reflects reality.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 13:17
  • @gerrit ... The three-year requirement in the OP suggests that in Sweden in mathematics, that model still holds. In fact, I think that in the USA in mathematics, it also still holds.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 16:13
  • @GEdgar After three years we just become postdocs under a different name. Same duties, same responsibilities, different label. I use the word "postdoc" liberally for any research-funded position to do primarily research on a fixed-term contract that is typically between 6 months and 4 years.
    – gerrit
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 17:21

1 Answer 1


The difference is that a postdoc's PhD degree must have been obtained no more than three years prior to the application date. For a researcher, there is no such limitation.

It means they want a postdoc, but if it's been more than three years, they can't call her/him a postdoc and will call her/him a researcher. They'll probably pay more for the researcher but they probably would also pay someone with 8 years of postdoc experience more than someone with 2, even if they were allowed to call both a postdoc (like they would in, for example, the UK).

It's common in Sweden. See this question.

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