Voluntary research

We have a number of Honorary Research Associates and Fellows who contribute to departmental research or undertake collaborative work with our staff.

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A limited number of self-funding, or externally-funded, research opportunities are available for those with an established reputation in a field of research that meets Kew’s Science Strategy. 

Types of researcher

Kew provides a base for different types of self-funded researchers to contribute to departmental research or undertake collaborative work with our staff.

Short-term arrangements can be made for active researchers who collaborate with Kew to become Visiting Researchers.

Long-term visiting scientists to Kew, whose research is mutually beneficial, can apply for and be awarded Honorary Research Associate (HRA) status.

What are HRAs and HRFs?

The HRA position is seen as equivalent to an ‘emeritus’ position in universities. An HRA is typically awarded to members of science staff so they can continue in an active voluntary research role after retirement, but they are also awarded to external researchers. The position has an application process, the number of positions is limited and is not always offered or guaranteed.

From 2010 onwards, only HRA awards are made as time-limited but renewable positions for three years. Prior to this, there were also Honorary Research Fellows (HRFs) awarded for life to senior science staff on retirement as well as external scientists of particular merit; as a result these continue to be recognised.

How the partnership works

These positions are not staff positions, so researchers are either self-funded or obtain their own funding prior to application.  The researcher is based in one of the science departments and has access to our facilities, collections and expertise. The results of any research is usually co-published can include illustrated books, academic publications.

How to apply

There is a straightforward application process for HRAs, Applicants will be asked to fill in a form outlining their previous employment, qualifications, title of research project, duration, outline of activity and resources required. The application needs to have the support of Kew staff and the relevant department before it is sent for review. For external researchers, the first step is to contact a member of Kew science staff in a similar field to support such an application via their department.

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