Finding a research staff position

The route towards becoming a research staff member depends on the experience of the researcher. Research staff fresh from a doctorate may find a list of the essential researcher competencies useful in the transition to being research staff.

research fellow

Research staff are generally employed either on research grants or on personal fellowships.  

Finding a research staff position funded by a project grant

Most common in the natural sciences and engineering, this tends to be the first step in turning from a graduate (first or doctoral degree) to research staff and will involve searching for positions advertised by group leaders (also known as principal investigators, PIs). Sources of such jobs are outlined in the pages on finding academic jobs.

Finding a personal fellowship or group leader ‘starter’ grant

A position as a research fellow is prestigious and highly competitive, and usually requires applicants to have at least two years of research experience after completing a doctorate.

Personal fellowships are especially relevant for researchers in the social sciences, arts and humanities, where research grants with a large number of funded research staff are not as common.

Many higher education institutions provide help with applying for fellowships and you should contact your institution’s research support (or equivalent) office to find out about this. More information about applying for funding is available, but these sources may be a useful starting point in finding individual fellowships:

  • European Research Council
  • learned societies 
  • charities and charitable trusts
  • universities or, in the case of collegiate universities, the colleges.