Research Assistant Skills List and Examples

Research assistants work in a wide variety of jobs and settings - from laboratories to libraries to offices - in any of several different industries. The work may involve administering tests, data entry, library research, and creating graphs and charts of results. In addition, you may be asked to develop tests and questionnaires, locate and screen research participants, keep track of laboratory materials, and assist with presentations.

Basically, your job is to help the senior researchers as needed.

Being a research assistant is seldom a career all by itself, but it is an important stepping-stone for careers in a number of different fields. Organizations that hire research assistants include universities, private laboratories, governmental organizations at the local, state, and federal levels, and companies in fields such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

You may only be a research assistant for a few years - or even a few months - before you move on to the next stages in your career. But in that short time, you will have the power to contribute to any number of important research efforts. You will also lay important groundwork for later, more prestigious positions and gain experience you will be able to draw on for the rest of your working life.

How to Use Skills Lists

Although organizations in many different fields hire research assistants, the work itself is often fairly consistent in its demands.

Nonetheless, you should always read job descriptions carefully in order to find out what each hiring supervisor is looking for. Then you can tweak your resume, cover letter, and interview preparation so as to showcase those desired skills. Be sure to prepare examples that show clearly how you embody each skill.

Do not expect hiring supervisors to simply take your word for it without some kind of evidence.

The following information should help you prepare for the job search by giving you an idea of what employers may be looking for. Bear in mind that, depending on the organization in question, you may also need one or more degrees in the correct field.

Top 3 Research Assistant Job Skills

Employers typically look for so-called “soft” skills, in addition to more technical qualifications in their research assistants. These may include written and spoken communication skills, attention to detail and the ability to focus, critical thinking, excellent time management skills, personal integrity, and a willingness to maintain confidentiality.

Sought-after technical abilities may include any of the following:

Analytical Skills
Research assistants may be asked to collect and analyze data or to manage and update existing datasets. You may also conduct literature reviews or field research, including running focus groups and fact-check proposals and statements. All these tasks come under the heading of executing the “grunt work” planned by senior researchers and it is absolutely critical to the proper functioning of any research facility.

Administrative Skills
Administrative skills generally involve supporting the work of senior researchers by doing tasks somewhat outside their responsibilities. These tasks involve bookkeeping and maintaining and managing records generally, proper management of equipment and supply inventories, preparing mass mailings and ensuring that deadlines are met. You may also be asked to transcribe handwritten notes or audio files or to perform basic data entry.

Computer Skills
Computer skills represent a kind of bridge between technical scientific work and more generalized communication and organization tasks. If you have coding skills, you may be asked to create the systems that your senior colleagues will use to collect, analyze, and manage data. In some fields, new forms of computer-based analysis have triggered breakthroughs in scientific understanding—and will continue to do so.

If you do not have coding skills, your work on computers can still include the use of statistical software, the creation of visual presentations and illustrations, the use of database and spreadsheet programs to manage and interact with data, and the creation of records and publications using programs like Microsoft Office. As familiar as many of these programs are, real expertise with all of their features is a rare and very marketable skill.

More Research Assistant Skills

Here's a comprehensive list of research assistant skills for resumes, cover letters, job applications and interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Personal Attributes

  • Accuracy
  • Attention to Detail
  • Confidentiality
  • Detail Orientation
  • Decision Making
  • Integrity
  • Meeting Deadlines
  • Motivation
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Self-Management
  • Time Management
  • Take Responsibility

Analytical Skills

  • Administrative Support
  • Analysis
  • Analyzing Data
  • Databases
  • Data Analysis
  • Data Collection
  • Data Entry
  • Data Integration
  • Data Integrity
  • Data Management
  • Evaluation
  • Fact Checking
  • Field Research
  • Focus Groups
  • Literature Reviews
  • Problem Solving
  • Program Evaluation
  • Reasoning

Administrative Skills

  • Bookkeeping
  • Meeting Electronic Mailing Deadlines
  • Meeting Paper Deadlines
  • Preparing Mass Mailings
  • Inventory Management
  • Transcribing Handwritten Notes
  • Transcribing Tapes

Computer Skills

  • Coding
  • Writing Code
  • Tableau
  • Illustration Packages
  • SPSS Statistical Software
  • Visuals for Presentations
  • Microsoft Office

Communication/Interpersonal Skills

  • Oral Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Student Advising
  • Professional Development

Project-based Skills

  • Project Design
  • Project Management
  • Project Support
  • Program Design

Research Skills

  • Research Design
  • Research Methods
  • Research Support
  • Reporting
  • Reports
  • Statistical Packages
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Surveys
  • Survey Design
  • Compiling Information
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research
  • Relational Database
  • Proposals

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