Research career stages

Has the classification of tasks according to the different research career stages (qualification level code) used in the Research Council of Finland’s payments changed in any way?

The basic content of the classification and the number of categories have not changed, but attention is now being paid to the consistent use and application of the classification. In the systems used for payment, the verbal descriptions of the career stages have in the past been partly incomplete. The career stages are also listed in an illogical order in some payment systems.

In the FTE specification, is it possible to classify tasks into research career stages according to the title of the Research Council’s funding decision?

No, it is not. The classification of the research organisation’s tasks follows the organisation’s policies and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture’s data collection guidelines on research career stages (link takes you to the Finnish guidelines).

The research career classification of a person working on a project funded by the Research Council of Finland may change during the course of the project, for example if a person previously working on an Academy Project as a doctoral candidate (stage I) completes their doctorate and is recruited to the same project as a postdoctoral researcher (stage II). The change should also be reflected in the FTE specification of the payment.

Universities should follow the same principles in classifying their researcher career stages as they do in the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture’s annual data collection on staff.

To which research career stage does an Academy Research Fellowship correspond?

Academy Research Fellowships are often placed at research career stage III, based on the content of the role (see table). However, if the organisation’s own job categories differ from this, the organisation’s own classification will be used.

What career stage are tenure-track positions?

There are different types of tenure-track positions, which can be placed at levels II, III or IV of the research career system, depending on the organisation’s classification.

Which tasks fall into the ‘other’ category, i.e. research support staff?

The tasks of research support staff can be classified as

  • research support tasks
  • teaching and research support staff at universities
  • any other tasks that, according to the organisation’s practices, are not classified at research career stages I–IV.

However, research support staff should not be a category of miscellaneous project staff tasks.

How can we define the research career stage for job titles if the career stage classification is not otherwise used in our organisation?

The table below gives examples of the typical content, education level and titles of jobs at different career stages. The research career stage is a feature of a person’s employment relationship.

The table is based on a report (The four-stage research career model) published by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, which contains a more detailed description of the different stages of the research career, and on the Ministry's guidelines for the annual data collection on university staff.

However, the example list of job titles does not cover all job titles used by research organisations. There may also be differences between research organisations in the content of the tasks and the education required.

Table. Classification of tasks according to the different research career stages (qualification level code) used in the Research Council of Finland’s payments.

Research career stage

Content of task

Education required

Examples of job titles

Stage I

Task often involves completing a doctoral degree. (May also include tasks where the person’s research is not related to a doctoral degree.)

As a rule, a master’s degree

doctoral researcher

early-career researcher

project researcher

Stage II

The tasks are independent research and/or teaching positions where the person is responsible for planning and implementation.

The incumbent is already in a more responsible position within the research team.

As a rule, a doctoral degree

postdoctoral researcher

senior researcher

university lecturer

Stage III

The tasks are much more independent and responsible than at the second stage.

They include management and organisational responsibilities as well as increasing financial responsibilities.

The role also involves being responsible for the activities of other people.

As a rule, a doctoral degree

Academy Research Fellow

specialist researcher

clinical teacher

university lecturer

university researcher

Stage IV

The tasks are very wide-ranging and demanding.

They involve planning, coordinating and managing very large projects (e.g. major international research projects).

The incumbents have a significant impact on the research system as a whole.

As a rule, a doctoral degree


Academy Professor

research professor

research director

Research support staff (other than stage I–IV tasks)

Research support tasks


research assistant

teaching and research support staff at universities

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