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I'm on first year of Japanese study. I've found on my notes the word "kenkyuusha" (研究者) which means researcher, but while reviewing for vocabulary on the internet I found "kenkyuuin" (研究員) instead.

I don't know much about how to form new vocabulary using suffixes yet, but I'm guessing both ("sha" and "in") mean person in some way (used in other words I also have, like kaishain, isha, ginkouin, etc). That means that these suffixes are kind of interchangeable, or did I just take a bad translation and "kenkyuuin" is the correct one?

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研究員 would usually imply a researcher who is a member of some specific organisation whereas 研究者 is just a general term for "researcher". 員 means "member" 委員 = committee member etc.

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  • Just adding a note: 「者」 means "person", so 「研究者」 is like "research-person" and 「研究員」 is like "research-member/employee". – Mauro Apr 19 '20 at 13:16

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