I've noticed postings for positions with the title “research assistant” from Australian universities. They require a PhD and are often (or exclusively) one-year contracts. Are these positions akin to anything in the US system? Are they more of a trainee position (like a postdoc)? Or is it more of a senior position within an established lab (like a research assistant professor)? Is it something else?

The one-year contracts suggest that they might be soft money positions. Are they typically renewed or transformed into more permanent positions?

  • "Soft money" is a US term that doesn't necessarily translate.
    – Flyto
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 20:41
  • 2
    I use such a position to hire someone with a PhD to carry out some parts of my research; e.g., experiments, coding, etc. Usually it won't lead to a permanent position as it is usually attached to my research project as opposed to my school. Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Job advertisements in Australia invariably list a level. If it says "Level A Academic" it is a postdoc. If it says "HEW Level Something" then it is not a postdoc. Consult the unversity's Enterprise Agreement for detailed definitions of the levels. An enterprise agreement is the same as a collective bargaining agreement. Note that starting pay for Level A is usually much higher if you hold a PhD.


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