How is a senior research fellow different from a lecturer and a professor? I suppose it has small teaching responsibilities? Would it then be a suitable academic career option for someone who chooses research over teaching?

I do not have a specific interest in a particular country, since I am not sure if the practice would differ between countries, but let us say it is UK.

  • 7
    This may depend on the specific department within a specific university within a specific country.
    – JeffE
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:48
  • Note that some "fellowships" or organizations specifically grant the title of "senior research fellow", and this is not always a title even granted be a university. The IEEE for instance grants a title of "fellow", and has a specific process for being considered a "senior fellow": ieee.org/membership_services/membership/senior/… For a breakdown of mentioned country differences, see also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_fellow
    – BrianH
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 15:08
  • Related: academia.stackexchange.com/a/19763/102
    – user102
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 15:45
  • 4
    My job title in my current university is "Senior Research Associate", which is basically our fancy way of saying "postdoc". Job titles vary. A lot. Don't try to see patterns and regulations where there are none.
    – xLeitix
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


It depends on the university. At most of the universities in the UK I know, a position is usually called research fellow if it either is a temporary position or a position with less teaching obligations. However, there is no general rule about what one calls a research fellow. It may even be different from department to department (Oxford is an interesting example, there it can mean pretty much everything). If it is a suitable academic career option depends therefore more on the university itself and the conditions of the position (how much teaching, is it a permanent position?), than on the name of the position.

About the difference between the countries: There are large differences between countries, not only in the names (which differ of course, due to different languages). For example in Germany most positions are only temporary positions without tenure track.

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