Having obtained by PhD in Computer Science five years ago, I have been working in R&D projects for the last years. I want to pursue an academic career and I am currently considering moving to UK. As far as it concerns my academic qualifications, very roughly, I have 8 journal publications, an h-index of 8 by google scholar, and a little teaching experience in university education.

The variety of titles in UK job openings is somewhat confusing: (Postdoctoral) Research Associate, (Senior) Lecturer, Research Fellow, etc. And then, there are open-ended and fixed-term contracts.

The question is: what kind of positions would it be best to aim for? In other words, what kind of position would correspond to my skill-set, given that I am interested in evolving academically (research and teaching)? And how could I improve my CV towards this?

  • 1
    My university provides an academic career pathways, perhaps that could help you (considering that Newcastle is a research-intensive university, it could be different in a university with a teaching focus). You question on how to improve your CV might be a separate one.
    – user102
    Sep 12, 2014 at 8:28
  • Can you tell us a little about your citizenship, or if you have a right to work in the UK.
    – StrongBad
    Sep 12, 2014 at 8:34

3 Answers 3


I don't think it is feasible to make a sure-fire estimation of what "level" you would be considered to be on without knowing many details (and then the question would likely become too localized for SE anyway).

Further, job titles and positions are not standardized between universities or, in some cases, even between different labs within the same university. What's called a Research Fellow in one place could be a Research Associate in another, and simply a Postdoc in the third. However, there are (typically) some "groups" of jobs:

  • PhD students (which you clearly don't fall into, given that you already have a PhD)
  • Non-professoral, non-student researchers (postdocs, various soft-money research positions)
  • Junior Professors and Professors (I'll lump into this everything from lecturers, senior lecturers, and actual professors)

You will likely fall into the second group, maybe you could also hunt for a lecturer position (i.e., the entry-level position of the third group). If you want to stay in research, you should aim to sooner or later get into the third group. However, typically, these jobs are significantly more competitive to get than postdoc jobs.

And how could I improve my CV towards this?

Papers, papers, papers. I think your background in an R&D lab can be sold as a boon ("I have industrial experience, while still not being out of touch with research!"), but at the end of the day, papers are what people really look at.

  • I'd also add that since this is a question, the papers people are especially interested in are REFable papers -- typically your best 4. Jan 20, 2017 at 0:00

The job you appear to be interested in is lecturer, open ended contract, probably at level 7 (I would guess from your description). You may want to consider the fixed-term contracts as well. Applying to anything above level 8 will be pointless. However, I'd advise applying to pretty much everything at the lower end of things, as the job market in most fields isn't great right now. A postdoc/research assistant position will probably be helpful if that's what you are offered. Hiring in the UK is cyclical, so what's on offer will vary greatly between years.

Source: personal experience

  • I've now realised this question is old (I can't remember how I reached it), but hopefully the answer will be useful to others).
    – Jessica B
    Jun 6, 2015 at 6:42

As far as I see you potentially fit the Lecturer (i.e., Assistant Professor in the US system) level. This is because you have a PhD, and you are too long after your graduation to become a postdoc (i.e., research fellow/associate).

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