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Job Descriptions

Research Assistant

Research assistants can be employed in a variety of work settings, including educational institutions (e.g., colleges/universities), healthcare facilities (e.g., hospitals, medical and dental clinics), private businesses, or public research organizations. As a research assistant, their goal is to conduct research set out by their employer, so the employer can then use their research for current and future projects. If you are a research assistant, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., entering data from paper copies, filing paper copies away).


The education requirements for this job will really depend on the employer who is hiring. Sometimes an employer may only require a bachelor’s degree in the field in which you will be working. Other times, they may request a higher level of education that is more specialized towards the type of work you will be doing. For example, if you are working at a history museum, the employer may require you to have a master’s degree that specialized in history.

Previous Experience

Previous experience doing similar work in the same subject area is preferred. Although many employers prefer that you have previous experience doing similar work, it is strongly encouraged that you apply if you have the required education and skills.

Job Duties

  • Compile information on a specific topic as requested by your supervisor.
  • Conduct literature searches by reading books, magazines, or journal articles.
  • Conduct research via internet search engines, following up on reference lists, and topic search engines.
  • Gather and retrieve resources (e.g., books, journal articles, etc.) needed.
  • Maintain a library of resources and bibliographic databases.
  • Write summaries of the research conducted.
  • Proofread any manuscripts or reports.
  • Assist in various aspects of research projects, including enrolling participants, interviewing participants, managing trials or interventions, collecting data, and administering surveys or incentives.
  • Enter collected data into a computer system via paper copies of surveys, records, invoices, or other forms.
  • Perform statistical analyses of data as needed.
  • Verify data accuracy by finding and correcting data entry errors.
  • Store completed documents in appropriate locations.
  • Assisting your supervisor in the writing of manuscripts, reports, applications, and grant-writing.
  • Your employer may also ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘Out of the Scene’. If you are working as a research assistant you will not be working with the public on a regular basis.  However, you may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (e.g., office staff) or take direction from supervisors.

Skills / Abilities

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Written Expression - You will be required to be able to write and spell correctly.

Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your hands, wrists, and fingers to type on a computer keyboard, requiring the use of fine motor skills.

Attention to Detail - This job requires that you pay careful attention to what you are doing. As you are entering information, your supervisor will rely on you to enter in that information as accurately as possible so they (or you) are able to find and use the information when it is needed.

Computer Knowledge - You will need to have some knowledge of computer usage and word processing or other data entry programs as you may need to type information in a file or look up information from a program.

Organization and Prioritization - This job requires the ability to clearly organize and categorize work priorities to complete your work.

Environmental Demands

Location - If you work in an office, you will be indoors in a climate-controlled setting.

Noise Level - The noise level will usually be low.

Lighting Level  - Offices usually use florescent lighting, and if there are windows, there will also be natural lighting.

Work Hours - This job may have part-time or full-time shifts. You will need to check with your supervisor for the schedule.

Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you sit. 

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting is generally clean. You will also want to make sure you keep your work area and surrounding areas neat and tidy.

Work Attire - Work attire will range depending on what type of work setting you are in. Clothing can range from business casual clothing to just casual clothing.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a higher degree of structure and predictability.  This means that you will usually complete the same tasks each day and you may be able to complete these tasks in the same order each day (e.g., looking for and finding articles on a certain subject and then recording the reference into a reference library).  You will probably know how long each task should take you to complete.  You may work in the same areas each day, and you will probably interact with the same people each day.

What's the Pace?

    • Steady:  In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that you will always have some work to do.  When the work pace is steady, you are working at a level “5” on a scale of “1” (nothing to do) to “10” (extremely busy, rushed pace).

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