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Postdoctoral research is academic or scholarly research conducted by a person who has completed his or her doctoral studies, normally within the following five years. It is intended to further deepen expertise in a specialist subject, including necessary skills and methods. Postdoctoral research is often considered essential to the scholarly mission of the host institution and is expected to produce relevant publications accordingly. 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 stipend or sponsorship award. Appointments for such a research position may be called Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Postdoctoral Research Associate, or Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Depending on the type of appointment, postdoctoral researchers may work independently or under the supervision of a principal investigator. However, a designated postdoctoral research appointment may also be taken up when other suitable positions are not available, rather than merely pursuing the deepening of scholarly experience.

In many English-speaking countries, postdoctoral researchers are colloquially referred to as "post-docs".

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United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, one-quarter (25%) of those who attain doctorates in the natural sciences continue to undertake postdoctoral research.[1]

United States

Postdoctoral research may be required for obtaining a tenure-track faculty position, especially at research oriented institutions. Post-doctoral appointments—that were traditionally optional—appear to have become mandatory in some fields as the amount of competition for tenure-track positions in academia has drastically increased over previous decades.[citation needed]

Australia

Salaried appointments at the minimum Level A for academic salaries, for doctoral qualified employees (beginning in 2008) are set at AU$66,155 p.a. at the University of Sydney[2], AU$63,451 p.a. at the University of Melbourne[3], and AU$67,140 p.a. at the University of New South Wales[4].

Alternatively the Australian Research Council (ARC) provides highly competitive Postdoctoral Fellowships. For example their Discovery Projects [5], funds 3 year Fellowships, beginning in 2009, with AU$61,399 p.a.[6]. Furthermore, a mandatory superannuation payment of 11-17% is paid by Universities[7].

Norway

In Norway, postdoctoral research is usually carried out independently by senior academics at the level of Associate Professor. These temporal research appointments (Norwegian: postdoktor) are usually taken up for 2 years on a path towards a full university professorship. The Norwegian title is often translated as Senior Research Fellow. Such positions have been funded by the various Norwegian research councils since the 1980s, mostly by grants to individual award holders. However, since 1998 universities have also been directly funding these positions, which led to a significant increase of positions available.[citation needed]

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