I do not have a PhD, nor am I pursuing one, in the United Kingdom.

What title could I be given, if I worked as a paid researcher at a university, but I was not a PhD student or PhD graduate? The level of work would be at PhD level.

It might be misleading to call myself a researcher, as I thought that only applied to either students or people that passed their PhD dissertations.

  • 2
    Generally your title is something chosen by your employer, rather than what you call yourself.
    – Bryan Krause
    Jul 31 at 18:28
  • @BryanKrause They are trying to think of a title to give me, sorry for not including this. Jul 31 at 22:53
  • In my Uni, a person with such a job is called a "Research assistant." Aug 1 at 7:56

3 Answers 3


Actually, "Researcher" or "Independent Researcher" should be fine. There is no official definition and the terms are merely descriptive.

Another possibility is to use a title used by your employer for your role, if that seems suitable. Sometimes a title like "Research Associate" or such is used.

But there is no implication in the term researcher that you have any particular qualification. Your user name here is suitable, if that is, in fact, descriptive of what you do.

But note that it isn't actually a "title" in the sense of something conferred on you by authority like "Professor" is. It is just a description of one of your roles.

  • 7
    I think "Independent Researcher" is incorrect, because they are technically part of a university and being paid by the said university. Jul 31 at 17:50
  • I'm confused by the last sentence here (US perspective). "Professor" is just a job title that tends to be associated with specific rights, duties, and academic tenure. But there are cases where the title is used rather flexibly even by well-known universities, e.g. to hire out-of-office politicians as speakers. I've seen variants increasingly used for postdocs as well ("Research Assistant Professor"). Jul 31 at 19:23
  • 1
    @AnonymousM, I don't understand. If a university decides you are a professor, then you are a professor. Qualifications may apply, I agree. And Full Professor is a specific variant. I'm actually "Professor Emeritus", another variant. One real exception, I know of is (was) Professor Irwin Corey
    – Buffy
    Jul 31 at 19:41
  • @Buffy Right. If a University decides you are a Research Associate, you are also a Research Associate. These two job titles are the same in this way, they are a description of a role. Appending "Professor" before a name e.g. in professional or social correspondence is just a tradition of the particular job title. Jul 31 at 19:55
  • Research fellow
  • Visiting scholar

"Research fellow" would imply a more permanent position. If you will be under someone's supervision, you could also use:

  • Research assistant
  • 1
    "Research assistant" carries a connotation that the person is not expected to have enough creative input to get co-authorship on papers. (Although sometimes they do have substantial creative input, and sometimes when they do have substantial creative input they get denied co-authorship anyway.) "Research fellow" is widely used for postdocs. Aug 1 at 10:51
  • 1
    @DanielHatton Is that a general rule in the UK? Aug 1 at 14:29
  • @AzorAhai-him- Not a rule, just a phenomenon I've observed to be commonplace. Aug 2 at 11:52

Further to @Allure's answer, I've seen "pre-doctoral research associate" and "research trainee".

You must log in to answer this question.

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