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?

  • 2
    How is a postdoc different from a postdoctoral fellowship? I've always looked at those as being essentially the same thing.
    – Vladhagen
    Feb 1, 2021 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, 2021 at 18:52
  • 2
    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, 2021 at 18:59
  • @Vladhagen Independent postdoctoral fellowships are well-known outside the US, and do exist in the US. Feb 1, 2021 at 21:52
  • Closely related question: Importance of individual postdoctoral fellowship I put my experience in the comments Feb 1, 2021 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 2
    The fellowship pays for the postdoc, not the PI’s funds. That really is the difference.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 1, 2021 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. Feb 1, 2021 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.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .