After graduate school: Postdoctoral researcher

After graduate school, several career paths lie ahead of you. You could jump into the job market, make a business plan to launch a startup company, or decide to stay in Academia. Today, let’s pick the future path as a postdoctoral researcher and take a look at what they do.

What does a Postdoctoral researcher do?

A postdoctoral researcher, postdoc, is a person who professionally conducts research after their doctoral studies. In other words, this Ph.D. holder will be engaged in research or training for the purpose of acquiring skills to pursue an academic career.

There is no set length for a postdoctoral researcher. It depends on a number of factors such as the university, country of research, your Principal Investigator(PI), or funding. With that being said, most positions are two to three years and some can be extended. It is common to do more than one postdoctoral research before applying for faculty positions. Some countries do limit the total number of years a person can work as a postdoctoral researcher. For example, in Canada and Sweden, it is only possible to be a postdoctoral researcher for five years total, while there is no limit on postdoctoral researcher years in the U.S.

Postdoctoral researchers often have a temporary academic appointment, sometimes in preparation for an academic faculty position. They continue their studies or carry out research and further increase expertise in a specialist subject, including integrating a team and acquiring novel skills and research methods. Postdoctoral research is often considered essential while advancing the scholarly mission of the host institution; it is expected to produce relevant publications in peer-reviewed academic journals or conferences. In some countries, postdoctoral research may lead to further formal qualifications or certification, while in other countries it does not.

Postdoctoral research may be funded through an appointment with a salary or an appointment with a sponsorship award. Appointments for such a research position may be called ‘postdoctoral research fellow’, ‘postdoctoral research associate’, or ‘postdoctoral research assistant’. Postdoctoral researchers typically work under the supervision of a Principal Investigator.

Most postdoctoral researchers work at a research institute or university. In this case, since it is an officially hired contract worker, you can receive all of the benefits provided to the researcher at that workplace.

How to apply for a Postdoctoral researcher position

Here are common ways for applicants to apply for the postdoctoral position.

1) Apply through the Job posting websites
2) Contract to the labs in the related field, referred by your academic advisor

Each institute University, Center, or Laboratory makes an announcement when they have a job opening for a postdoc position. The job posting will be uploaded on their own websites and you could also find them at the job posting websites such as the HiBrainNet(Korean website), HigherEDJobs(US website).

The other way is to contact the labs in the relevant field whether or not there is an open position. You could ask them directly but a more favorable way is to contact them, being referred by your academic advisor.

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