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Planning a career as a postdoctoral researcher

research careerWhat does a postdoctoral researcher do?

A postdoctoral researcher is an individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and works on a project for which another academic (the Principal Investigator, PI) is responsible. In some cases there may be scope for the postdoctoral researcher to have some input into the project design, writing the grant application, etc. but essentially the project is defined by the PI. Postdoctoral research posts are generally fixed-term, paid positions.

Is it the right career pathway for me?

Postdoctoral researcher positions provide the opportunity to enhance your specialist research skills and knowledge. If you are aiming for a long-term academic career, a postdoc post will provide you with opportunities to develop your publication record, develop research collaborations and networks and potentially manage other researchers while working alongside cutting edge researchers. If an academic career isn’t your long-term aim, doing a postdoc can still enhance valuable transferable skills such as project management, people management and communication, and potentially offer opportunities for working with external partners. You can seek advice from a BU Careers Advisor about whether a postdoc would be beneficial in areas you are considering. There is an honest account of being a postdoctoral researcher on the THE website:  I’m a postdoc – get me out. You could also read the case studies from Dr Zoe Sheppard and Dr Corrina Osborne, both of whom have worked as postdoctoral researchers.

job hunt binocularsHow do I find a postdoctoral position and make a successful application?

The jobs.ac.uk website provides an excellent account on how to identify postdoctoral positions, the recruitment process and what assessors are looking for. Read the information here. The BU jobs website provides information about vacant postdoctoral positions available at Bournemouth University.

What is a postdoctoral research fellowship?

The term postdoctoral research fellowship refers to independent sources of funding that you can apply for as an early career researcher to do your own research project. These are prestigious and highly competitive but give an excellent opportunity to focus on research for a period of time without a heavy teaching load.

Here are some of the more well known schemes:

If you are a BU student/staff member and are interested in applying for a postdoctoral fellowship, further information and guidance can be provided by the Research Facilitators in RDS. Research Facilitators are linked to Faculties:

What is a Junior Research Fellowship?

Junior Research Fellowships (JRFs) at Oxford and Cambridge are highly competitive and prestigious and are aimed at early career researchers who are in the final year of their PhD or in the first few years after their PhD. They are awarded on the basis of research excellence.

There are two types: stipendiary and non-stipendiary. For the stipendiary fellowships there is a salary but the non-stipendiary fellowships are unpaid. For both types you will get membership of the college and associated benefits (such as dining rights). The fellowships typically last for approx. 3 years, although this can vary. There is no expectation that they will lead to a permanent position. Sometimes they are advertised for specific disciplines only, at other times for any discipline. Some colleges will expect you to do some teaching, but others will not.

JRFs are sometimes advertised on www.jobs.ac.uk. You will also find them advertised in the Cambridge Reporter or the Oxford Gazette and on the college websites. Application deadlines are spread over the year for different colleges.



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