There's a job application (UK based) which says something about having to have around 2 or 3 years research experience, but not necessarily have obtained a PhD.

What if I have a PhD and 2.5 years research experience postdoc? Does the PhD also count towards the "research years" ? I increasingly view a PhD as "training" rather than "research"...


Of course there is a research element to any PhD, but the emphasis is on training to become an effective researcher.

  • 5
    If you didn't do research, how did you write a Ph.D. thesis? Oct 6, 2015 at 8:07
  • @zibadawatimmy: The question does have more to it. I do see this in some places. Technically, your presumption is correct, I believe it too. But this has more to do with how the employer perceives this experience. I am awaiting a detailed answer to this question.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Oct 6, 2015 at 8:11
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    If someone has got 2 or 3 years research experience, they started this period without research experience. That's the same situation as having done a PhD, which provided a title on top.
    – user9482
    Oct 6, 2015 at 8:15
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    @ÉbeIsaac Call them and ask. A PhD is research experience. We can't know if there are additional requirements.
    – user9482
    Oct 6, 2015 at 8:32
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    @pbs All research is training, and has a learning curve. You're rarely just doing essentially the same things over and over again. You're learning and inventing new techniques and methodologies on a regular basis. Of course, Ebe is right, and it's hard to know with any particular employer if they share the perspective that "researching as a newb" is still research. Sometimes they are specifically looking for your ability to function in a research capacity outside of the careful guidance of your advisor. Oct 6, 2015 at 10:02

2 Answers 2


Excellent question! I put it down as experience anyway, but it seems to be shrugged off more often than not, as it was considered necessary as part of a degree. When I was applying for jobs, I got a call from one where the guy went over my resume over the phone, saying things like "And you don't have ANY industry experience? You didn't even do an intership? What were you doing over your summers?" to which I could only give the flabbergasted reply "Doing...research..."

So, yea, I'd definitely put it down as experience. But don't think that people will necessarily take it too seriously, sad to say.


Typically, time spent as a graduate student counts at least to some degree as research / professional experience. For example, the IEEE counts education culminating in a Ph.D. as five years of "professional practice," no matter how many more years it may have actually taken you. Those 2.5 years of postdoc most definitely count, though, so it seems quite reasonable for you to apply.

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