A research fellow is an academic research position at a university or a similar research institution, usually for academic staff or faculty members. A research fellow may act either as an independent investigator or under the supervision of a principal investigator.

Although research fellow positions vary in different countries and academic institutions, in general it indicates junior researchers who develop their research careers under the guidance of senior researchers.



In India, the position of research fellowship is provided to scholars from various streams like science, arts, literature, management and others. Research fellowship is funded by government academic and research institutes, and private companies as well. Research fellows research under the supervision of experienced faculty, professor, head of department, and Dean on two different posts known as Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and senior research fellow (SRF). Research organisations like ICAR, CSIR, UGC, ICMR, SERB recruit research fellows through National Eligibility Test. After the completion of pre-defined tenure, JRF can be considered for a senior research fellowship based on the research fellow's performance and/or interview conducted by the committee of the research institute.

Russian Federation


In the Russian Federation, the position and title research fellow is unknown; however, there is a broadly similar position of (Russian: Научный сотрудник, lit.'scientific worker'). This position normally requires a degree of Candidate of Sciences approximately corresponding to the PhD. More senior positions normally require, in addition to the aforementioned degree, a track record of publications or certified inventions, as well as practical contributions to major research and development projects.[1]

Hierarchy of researching positions in the Russian Academy of Sciences[2]
Translation (variant) Original Russian abbreviation Scientific degree or job seniority required Number of publications required
junior researcher младший научный сотрудник м. н. с. Candidate of Sciences or 3 years 1 in 5 years
researcher научный сотрудник н. с. Candidate of Sciences or 5 years 3 in 5 years
senior researcher старший научный сотрудник с. н. с. Candidate of Sciences or 10 years 5 in 5 years
leading researcher ведущий научный сотрудник в. н. с. Doctor of Sciences or Candidate of Sciences (in exceptionary cases) 7 in 5 years
principal researcher главный научный сотрудник г. н. с. Doctor of Sciences 10 in 5 years

South Africa


Research fellows in South Africa are considered an asset to research organisations and universities. There are highly ranked universities such as University of the Witwatersrand, University of Stellenbosch Business School, and Rhodes University which offer fellowships to South African nationals in certain fields of research.[3]

United Kingdom


In the United Kingdom a research fellow is a broad category, used to indicate a scholar on a research-oriented professional development track. In many universities a research fellow is a career grade of a Research Career Pathway, following on from a postdoctoral position such as research associate, and may be open-ended, subject to normal probation regulations. For some universities, research career grades roughly correspond to the grades of the academic pathway in the following way: research fellow (a lower or same grade as a lecturer),[4] principal research fellow—reader, whereas senior research fellow is somewhere between a lecturer and senior lecturer or associate professor.[5] Some universities such as Cambridge restricts Professorial grades only to academics who have excelled in both teaching and research.[6] Outside of faculty appointments, the title of "Research Fellow" or "Senior Research Fellows" can be also used as honorary or temporary awarded "fellowships" to distinguished academics by research institutes or colleges, usually from different institutions.[7]

Professorial Fellows


Professorial Fellows are the most senior professorships at a university. They are members of the College's Governing Body.[8]

Senior Research Fellows


Senior Research Fellowships (SRFs) are awarded to researchers with "academic standing comparable to that of a distinguished research professorship at a major university."[9] They recognize scholars with distinguished research records and publications.[10] This position originated in the 15th century as a way of allowing scholars time and funding to pursue independent research without having teaching duties.[11]

As with the professorial fellows, senior research fellows are research-only posts, with the rise of the career grade there will normally be a formal requirement of a moderate amount of teaching and/or supervision (often at postgraduate level). At All Souls College, Oxford, senior research fellows are 7-year long positions that are equivalent to a tenured position in the United States.[12] This position is equivalent to a full professorship.[13]

Junior Research Fellows


List of research fellowships

Fellowships by funding bodies
Funding body Fellowship
Wellcome Trust
Leverhulme Trust
  • Early Career Fellowships
  • Emeritus Fellowships
  • International Academic Fellowships
  • Major Research Fellowships
  • Research Fellowships
Royal Society
Royal Academy of Engineering
British Academy

See also



  1. ^ "Квалификационный справочник: Ведущий научный сотрудник" [Qualification Requirements for Positions of Managers, Specialists and other Employees]. aup.ru (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2010-05-29.
  2. ^ "Постановления Президиума РАН". ras.ru. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Research Fellowship in South Africa"
  4. ^ "Academic Promotions University College London". ucl.ac.uk. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  5. ^ "Academic Promotions University College London". ucl.ac.uk. 25 September 2017. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  6. ^ "Promotion levels at Cambridge University". hr.admin.cam.ac.uk. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  7. ^ "All Souls College Oxford: Categories of Fellowship". asc.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  8. ^ "College Fellowship". University College Oxford.
  10. ^ "Master & Fellows". Trinity College Cambridge.
  11. ^ Clark, William (2008). Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. p. 146.
  12. ^ "Senior Research Fellowships". All Souls College, Oxford.
  13. ^ "Not one of them". Times Higher Education.