On my hunt for a postdoc position, I have applied for some postdocs at many universities, but also I am applying for a postdoctoral fellowship (result date in July 2021) with a professor X at University A.

I can't help but think of a scenario where the two events will clash. Suppose I found a postdoc (university B) and started working on it, then a few months later I got the research fellowship with professor X. What's the right and "responsible" thing to do?

I can't do both because the fellowship doesn't allow it.

The applicant must not hold a permanent academic position before the start of the postdoctoral research fellowship

I know there a lot of assumptions going on here. But I'd like to know the answer for that particular scenario, should I quit the postdoc or let go of the fellowship?

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    How is a postdoc different from a postdoctoral fellowship? I've always looked at those as being essentially the same thing. – Vladhagen Feb 1 at 18:42
  • I really don't think they're similar. A postdoc I will be "supervised" by a PI, but with a research fellowship I think I might "be" the PI of the project. During the application of the fellowship, they're asking me for a clear research plan. I actually asked a question about this, and it's a very interesting topic. academia.stackexchange.com/questions/159602/… – U. User Feb 1 at 18:52
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    Essentially every postdoc I have ever seen (this is in the U.S. mind you) is constructed as follows: You PI a research project while supervised by a mentor of some sort. Whether it is a "fellowship" or a "research assistant" or whatever, the basic construction is you being PI on a project of your own while being overseen by a mentor. This might be different in the U.K. However, I have never seen a postdoc ever referred to as a "permanent academic position." This is straining at the semantics at this point in my opinion. – Vladhagen Feb 1 at 18:59
  • @Vladhagen Independent postdoctoral fellowships are well-known outside the US, and do exist in the US. – Anonymous Physicist Feb 1 at 21:52
  • Closely related question: Importance of individual postdoctoral fellowship I put my experience in the comments – lighthouse keeper Feb 1 at 21:53

A postdoc is not usually considered a permanent academic position. It is the most temporary of temp academia positions. The rule on not holding a "permanent" position likely means that you cannot be working as a (tenure-track) professor and then take the fellowship. This would be a question you would need to ask directly to the sponsors of the fellowship.

I also am not clear on how a postdoc and a Postdoctoral fellowship are different. These usually would be the same type of position in my mind. If so, the position at U of B versus the position with Prof X are really the same sort of thing. It would just come down to interests and pay at that point.

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    The fellowship pays for the postdoc, not the PI’s funds. That really is the difference. – Jon Custer Feb 1 at 20:20
  • One more technical difference: a fellowship in many cases does not lead to a position (work contract), but is paid as a stipend. That is usually an important difference in terms of rights, social security benefits etc. – lighthouse keeper Feb 1 at 21:56

If you receive a fellowship with a salary from a funding agency, it is normal to resign your current job to take the fellowship.

In a few cases you might keep your current job but have your duties changed to the fellowship research.

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