Scientific assistant

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Scientific assistant refers to young academics in research and teaching.


Since 2005, all scientific employees with a fixed-term contract or employed are referred to as assistants, provided they have a doctorate and are assigned to a chair , and if their job description also stipulates that they should aim for further scientific qualification (usually the habilitation ). The name is basically unofficial, as the post of assistant was abolished in 2005 (see below).

Official title

In Germany, scientific assistant was the official title of a scientific employee who is employed as a civil servant on a temporary basis in grade C1 at a German university or another scientific university. With the law reforming the salary of professors from 2002, salary regulation C and thus the post of academic assistant was abolished on January 1, 2005. Therefore, there will only be scientific staff for a transitional period who officially have this official title and were hired before 2005.

Above all, people who were supposed to qualify for a professorship through their habilitation were appointed as scientific assistants . The reform of 2002 aimed to replace the habilitation as a prerequisite for a lifetime professorship with a qualification phase as a junior professor . Therefore the office and position of the scientific assistant were eliminated. However, since the habilitation is still being held in many subjects, the reform is often considered to have failed, at least on this point.

In some countries the positions as scientific assistant have been replaced by positions as academic councilor (A 13) on a temporary basis; in the rest, the former assistants were mostly converted to positions for non-civil servants.

For particularly qualified or already qualified research assistants, there used to be the possibility of being appointed senior assistants (salary group C2), especially since in the past the post of research assistant could also be a life position.

Scientific assistants who were employed as civil servants on revocation were also referred to as full assistants .


The Thuringian Higher Education Act provides for the designation since its amendment in 2018. Research assistant before. Scientific assistants within the meaning of this law are academic assistants if they have a first professional university degree. They are employed on a fixed-term basis with less than half of the regular working hours of public sector employees.


Graduates who wanted to do a doctorate were hired as temporary research assistants (scientific assistant (b)) for usually four years. In addition to the research studies and the aspirant, this was one of the possibilities for obtaining a doctorate. After completing a doctorate, there was usually a practical phase (depending on the field of study, companies, public administration, medical institutions, etc.), after which a return to the colleges, universities or research institutions as a permanent scientific assistant (scientific assistant (u)) was possible. As a rule, after completing his habilitation or later doctorate B , the appointment as senior scientific assistant could take place. This was mostly the preliminary stage for the appointment as a lecturer .


Until the 1990s, academic staff at Austrian universities could have different statuses. The rule was " university assistant ", initially with a diploma or master's degree, but with the condition that the doctorate should be acquired within a few years . This was mostly a prerequisite for a scientific career. Other forms were the study assistant (a student in higher semesters), academic civil servant (mostly for very long-term tasks), the lecturer (with subject-related teaching authorization) and the non-employed lecturer (in the Federal Republic of Germany private lecturer ). Lecturers with a service contract received i. d. R. after some time the title associate professor.

With the partial legal capacity (Austria) (around 2000) the situation changed depending on the university, with the full legal capacity again. However, from the release of the universities to self-employment on January 1, 2004 until September 30  , 2009, there was no collective agreement for university staff, so during this time the individual universities were free to design their service contracts with their employees. During this time, some Austrian universities advertised positions for "scientific assistants" - but the universities could also choose other names, and whether under "scientific assistants", for example, B. predoc positions or postdoc positions were to be understood, was not generally defined. Since the collective agreement came into force, there has only been the term “ university assistant ” with or without a doctorate in accordance with Section 26 of the collective agreement.

Other countries

Outside of Germany there are other names, or the status of a research assistant corresponds to a status between a university assistant (with a diploma, but not necessarily a doctorate) and that of a senior assistant or lecturer . The conditions in service law are also different and are currently changing in many countries, to which the Bologna Process also contributes.


  • Christian Flämig et al. (Ed.): Handbuch des Wissenschaftsrechts. Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg, 2nd edition 1996, reprint 2014, ISBN 978-3-642-64726-0 .

Individual evidence

  1. Flämig et al. 1996, chapter 3.1, p. 519 in the Google book search
  2. See § 95 ThürHG after the amendment of May 10, 2018, GVBl No. 5 (2018), p. 192.