Jump to content

Professor vs researcher



17 members have voted

  1. 1. What would you rather be called?

    • A researcher at the university
    • A professor (unspecificed status, e.g. associate, adjunt, etc...) at the university

Recommended Posts

What do Ph.D holders who work in the academia call themselves? A research or a professor? One does the other, but when someone say "I am a prof", people immediately ignore the whole research aspect (at least the people I've talked with) and thinks you only teach at the university. This is of course not true. In the future, I am going to be put in the same position and I rather refer myself as "a researcher" rather than a "professor" because "prof" gives the people the idea that I am old...


The same is true when I used to TA in my undergrad. I was in second year and people thought I was a grad student in my 30s...somewhat insulting considering outside of school, everyone thought I was still in high school.


It would seem that certain titles adds numbers to your age.

Edited by reinhard
Link to comment
Share on other sites

(This is what I think when I hear these terms--actual definitions vary by university / job descriptions / contracts!)


In the context of a university job, I think that a "researcher" is someone who works on research mainly (or only) in a non-tenure track position. Often, these positions might be "term positions" (i.e. contract for X years) or basically dependent on their employer choosing to / being able to continue their employment (i.e. like almost any other job). A researcher may occasionally teach a course in their field of expertise. A researcher does not often serve on departmental committees and does not participate in decisions like hiring, curriculum changes, or grad student admission, etc.


A "professor", to me, is a tenured or tenure track position with mixed teaching, research, and administrative duties. To me, they are the "manager" level positions--while they might carry out a bit of research, most of their time would be training/supervising students, postdocs or other "researchers". They might also be the instructor in charge of a large undergraduate class, with instructors (see below), more junior professors, or even graduate students teaching individual sections and reporting to them.


I also think of "instructor" positions as similar to a "researcher" except the emphasis is on teaching classes rather than doing research.


So, to me, I feel that instructors and researchers are the "front end" workers that do most of the instructing and research work in the department, and professors as having duties in between but are also management level workers. Graduate students are basically instructors/researchers in training, so we tend to do a lot of the "front end" instructing (TAships) and researching (RAships) work too!



Therefore, I don't think it makes sense for me to answer "what would I rather be called", because to me, these are fundamentally different positions, not just different names for the same job!

Edited by TakeruK
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that intuitively the term "professor" seems to give the idea of an established faculty member who does a lot of teaching. I have a hard time explaining to people outside the academia that even though many of the faculty I work with are professors, they do very little teaching, if any at all. I don't have a good solution though, because "researcher" does sound like someone who is employed in a very different capacity. I think if I end up on the position of a professor who mainly does research, I will just have to explain it to people who seem to misunderstand. 


As a silly anecdote, when I was a TA, I had a student who insisted on calling me "professor" constantly, and I kept correcting him because it drove me nuts. Turns out he thought that was just the respectful way to address someone who was the primary instructor in the classroom. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use