My question is as above: Is a change from "J-1 Short-Term Scholar" to "J-1 Research Scholar", both with the primary purpose of "Conducting Research", a "Change of Status"?
Form I-539 makes me think "no", because on page 2, part 2, 2.b ("The change of status I am requesting"), one can select only "J1 - EXCHANGE VISITORS - OTHERS". So there is no way to tell Short-Term Scholar apart from Research Scholar. [Ok, bad example: No change of category will be considered for Short-Term Scholars. But the question remains the same with similar J-1 types such as Professor.]
However, the Windstar tax software seems to think differently. Let's look at the case of a Short-Term Scholar (first half of the year) who became a Research Scholar (second half of the year):
Reestablishing Residency is required to start the benefits over after acquiring a new status/purpose! [explain]
Examining visit: J-1 CONDUCTING RESEARCH 7/1/2015 12/31/2015 [...]
Examining visit: J-1 CONDUCTING RESEARCH 1/1/2015 6/30/2015 [...]
Treaty Benefits end prior to this tax year. Treaty benefits denied.
So Windstar seems to think the Scholar has changed "status" or "purpose" (where the purpose is "CONDUCTING RESEARCH").
This article has a lot of information about this, see section D, "Impact of Change in Status". However, the article mostly talks about using different sections of the tax treaty (for students vs. professors, for example), which is not (necessarily) the case for a researcher changing from Short-Term to Research Scholar. What exactly a "change of status" is, remains unclear. Even footnote 157 says "An explanation of this policy is not included in IRS Publication 901, U.S. Tax Treaties." I do not have access to any of the other references in that footnote.
Edit: I have asked the Windstar people, too. I'll update this questions as soon as I hear back from them.