The main difference between research assistant and research associate is that research associates tend to have advanced degrees than research assistants and have more responsibilities in a research project.
Research assistant and research associate are two types of research positions available in research projects. Although these positions sound similar, there is a distinct difference between a research assistant and a research associate.
Key Areas Covered
1. Who is a Research Assistant
– Definition, Features
2. Who is a Research Associate
– Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Research Assistant and Research Associate
– Comparison of Key Differences
Research, Research Assistant, Research Associate
Who is a Research Assistant
A research assistant is a researcher employed by a university or a research institute to help in research projects. Research assistants usually have a short-term, temporary contract. Generally, research assistants are appointed at the graduate level. They provide research/administrative support to more senior members of the staff, like research fellows, lecturers, and professors. In a university, they are typically the most junior researchers. However, research assistants can make significant contributions to a research project.
The responsibilities and autonomy of a research assistant depend on their supervisor (generally a member of the permanent staff, like a professor) and the culture of the research institute. They would also depend on the field of research and the specific nature of the research project. They would be typically involved in data collection, design of studies, analysis of data, finding and organizing relevant data sources, and drafting sections of a research paper. But research assistants do not usually have the main responsibility of writing a research paper.
Who is a Research Associate
Research associates are researchers that hold an advanced degree, usually beyond a Master’s degree. In most research institutes and universities, a research associate post requires a postdoctoral qualification in the relevant field. Therefore, this is usually the first research appointment aspiring researchers seek after completing their PhD. The position of research associate allows greater autonomy from the research supervisor when compared to the autonomy of a PhD student. In fact, research associates may also be expected to supervise the projects of undergraduate or postgraduate students.
Research associate positions are fixed-term contracts that usually last two to three years. It involves the design of research studies, collection and analysis of data, and reporting research findings in conferences and academic journals.
Difference Between Research Assistant and Research Associate
A research assistant is a researcher employed by a university or a research institute to help in research projects, whereas a research associate is a researcher that holds an advanced degree, usually beyond a Master’s degree.
Type of Position
A research associate is a senior position than a research assistant. In fact, research assistants are the most junior researchers in a research project.
Moreover, research associates usually have a more advanced degree, at least a postdoctoral degree, than research assistants.
Research assistants do not have many responsibilities as research associates in designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and reporting.
Furthermore, research associates have more autonomy than research assistants. In fact, research assistants have to work under a supervisor, but research associates may have the chance to supervise projects of undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The main difference between research assistant and research associate is that research associates tend to have advanced degrees than research assistants and have more responsibilities in a research project. A research associate is a senior position than research assistant. In fact, research assistants are the most junior researchers in a research project.
1. “How to Become a Research Assistant, Associate or Fellow in the UK.” CareersinHE.com, 14 Oct. 2021.
2. “Research Assistant.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Sept. 2021.