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The role of a Research Adviser to an NRC Research Associate is similar to that of a major professor to a postdoctoral fellow at a major research university. For a Senior NRC Research Associate, the relationship with an Adviser is that of a professional colleague.

An Adviser is expected to furnish scholarly stimulation, provide encouragement and scientific and technical advice, and offer any other types of support that will help an Associate develop into a mature researcher. Ideally, an Adviser should be an experienced scholar/researcher with an ongoing research program and professional recognition attained through recent publication in refereed journals in his or her field.

A prospective Adviser should recognize that an Associate's later career will be profoundly affected by his or her publication record in the open literature and should also have a personal commitment to the development of the Associate who chooses to work with him or her. An Adviser should have enough experience and stature at the laboratory to be able to assist the Associate in acclimating to the laboratory environment, locating work space, purchasing and/or assembling equipment, securing technical shop support, and obtaining access to library and computer resources.

At times, an Adviser may be called on to help or advise with personal issues such as finding suitable housing, establishing bank accounts, choosing medical and dental providers, establishing credit, or registering automobiles.

An Adviser nominee should hold a research doctorate. 

A nominee should have a minimum of five years’ research experience beyond the doctoral degree. This experience may be in a government laboratory, in private industry, or at a university, providing research was an integral part of a faculty appointment. 

A nominee should have published a reasonable number of research papers within the past five years in appropriate refereed journals. A nominee’s publication record should demonstrate, without question, recognition at the national or international level. In-house technical reports are not regarded as sufficient evidence of external peer acceptance of research productivity.

Copyrights and Patents
Copyrights and patents are not requisites for approval but do indicate innovative productivity and enhance one's capability as a prospective Adviser. Copyrights and patents do not replace the publication requirement.

Presentations at Meetings
Invited presentations at professional meetings indicate general recognition of one's current research activities but do not replace the publication requirement.

Awards, Citations, and Certificates
Awards, citations, and certificates demonstrate competence and outstanding performance. Although desirable, such recognition does not replace the publication requirement.

Professional Registration or Licensing
Professional registration or licensing indicates acceptance by a state or other legal board to practice a profession and is evidence of acceptability to assume legal responsibility for work performed. However, professional registration or licensing does not, in itself, qualify an individual as a prospective Adviser.

Professional Focus
Approval to be a Research Adviser means that a nominee is likely to make a good Adviser for an Associate, as discussed under "Background." Experience has shown that while administrators, such as department heads or branch chiefs, may have outstanding research records and often play an important role in providing a good climate for Associates, the most effective Advisers are staff members who spend the majority of their time conducting research and have time available for interaction with Associates. Nomination of an administrator, therefore, is not encouraged unless evidence can be provided that the nominee is an active investigator with time available to devote to an Associate.