Social Science Research Assistant Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

By | December 8, 2023
Social Science Research Assistant Job Description
Social science research assistants provide support on research projects in fields like economics, political science, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

This post provides detailed information on the social science research assistant job description, including the key duties, tasks, and responsibilities they commonly perform.

It also highlights the major requirements you may be expected to meet to be hired for the social science research assistant role by most employers/recruiters.

What Does a Social Science Research Assistant Do?

A social science research assistant supports social scientists like economists, political scientists, psychologists, and anthropologists on research projects.

Social science research assistants typically report to the lead researcher or principal investigator on a project.

This person is usually a tenured professor, research fellow, or senior scientist.

Social science research assistants are employed in diverse settings like universities, research institutions, government agencies, think tanks, and non-profit organizations.

Top employers include colleges, data analytics firms, polling organizations, and policy research centers.

Most social science research assistant jobs require a Bachelor’s degree in a social science discipline.

Relevant majors can range from psychology to statistics to economics.

Coursework and internships involving research methods are highly valued. Many assistants pursue a Master’s degree to advance in the field.

The social science research assistant job description involves assisting with study design and methodology, conducting literature reviews, and recruiting participants.

It also entails collecting various forms of data, analyzing data using statistical software, fact checking reports, and presenting research findings.

Assistants also take on project management duties like overseeing tasks, budgets, and team members.

In addition to their primary responsibilities, social science research assistants may write summaries of findings, create charts and visualizations to communicate insights, assist in preparing research grant proposals or clinical trial registrations, and coordinate ethics reviews.

The role of a social science research assistant is significant across different countries and areas of research.

Their work gathering, analyzing, and presenting data provides the foundation for social scientists to advance theories, test interventions, inform policy decisions, and promote human understanding.

Global issues studied with the help of assistants span fields as diverse as health, economics, political science, psychology, education, and more.

Employers hiring social science research assistants look for candidates with statistical competence, research methodology knowledge, and attention to detail.

Other attributes they look for are communication skills, project management abilities, and expertise using data analysis software.

A degree in a social science field is preferred although quantitatively-oriented degrees like statistics or computer science combined with social science coursework may suffice.

While there are no universal national or state-level certification requirements for social science research assistants, most follow ethical guidelines from bodies like institutional review boards that regulate research studies involving human subjects.

Employers often provide additional training in best practices for ensuring privacy and safety when collecting sensitive data from people.

Assistants must demonstrate integrity, responsibility, and discretion when contributing to impactful social science studies.

Social Science Research Assistant Job Description Example/Sample/Template

The social science research assistant job description consists of the following duties, tasks, and responsibilities:

  • Conduct literature reviews to understand existing research and theoretical frameworks
  • Recruit qualified participants for surveys, interviews, focus groups and experiments 
  • Create study materials like consent forms, questionnaires, scripts and activities
  • Administer assessment tools, scales, behavioral measures and other instruments
  • Interview study participants using semi-structured formats and open-ended questions
  • Moderate focus group sessions according to discussion guides
  • Observe study conditions and document detailed descriptive field notes 
  • Enter quantitative data into databases with accuracy and attention to detail  
  • Transcribe audio recordings of interviews and qualitative responses
  • Identify themes and codes in qualitative data through content analysis
  • Clean, transform, and validate quantitative data sets for analysis 
  • Analyze data using statistical programming languages like R or Python
  • Apply analytical techniques like regression models, ANOVA, factor analysis etc. appropriately
  • Use data visualization tools to create graphs, charts and illustrations
  • Interpret statistical outputs and relate findings to original research questions
  • Check work products for errors and ensure quality control procedures are followed
  • Write summary reports on methodologies, results, and conclusions
  • Assist with preparing manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Manage project details from budgets, personnel and ethical approvals to record-keeping
  • Coordinate communication between research partners at various institutions
  • Develop presentation slides highlighting key research outcomes
  • Provide administrative assistance by organizing documents, scheduling meetings, processing paperwork etc.
  • Attend research seminars and conferences to exchange ideas and showcase findings
  • Leverage technological tools to enhance efficiency with data collection and analysis
  • Mentor undergraduate students gaining research experience through assistantships.

Social Science Research Assistant Job Description for Resume 

If you have worked before as a social science research assistant or are presently working in that role and preparing a new resume or CV, then you can craft a compelling Professional Experience by applying the sample social science research assistant job description provided above.

You can highlight the major duties and responsibilities you have performed or are currently performing as a social science research assistant in your resume’s Professional Experience by utilizing the ones in the above social science research assistant job description example.

This will clearly show to that recruiter/employer that you have been successful performing the social science research assistant duties and responsibilities, which can boost your chances of being hired for the new job, especially if it requires someone with some social science research assistant work experience.

Social Science Research Assistant Requirements: Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities for Career Success

To excel in the role of a social science research assistant, individuals need to have certain skills, abilities, knowledge, and experience that enable collaboration, including:

  • Proficiency in conducting analyses using software programs such as SPSS, SAS, R, Python or Julia
  • Familiarity with research methods, including study design, sampling techniques, measurement approaches and both qualitative and quantitative procedures
  • Being able to analyze and summarize an amount of literature
  • Possessing skills to analyze data and interpret results
  • Understanding survey design principles and employing strategies to minimize bias
  • Having experience, in conducting interviews
  • Demonstrating proficiency in moderating focus groups
  • Showing expertise in content analysis for data coding
  • Following recommended practices for visualizing data
  • Displaying proficiency in writing and adhering to APA formatting guidelines
  • Being familiar with Microsoft Office products and other office software tools
  • Exhibiting excellent time
  • Possessing organizational skills
  • Being able to pay attention to detail so as to avoid errors.

Social Science Research Assistant Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2022, social science research assistants earned a salary of $52,089, in the United States.

The top five states with the highest average salary for the social science research assistant position were:

  1. New Jersey, with salary of $72,149
  2. Massachusetts, with salary of $64,733
  3. Washington, with salary of $63,188
  4. Delaware, with salary of $61,360
  5. California, with salary of $60,750.


Social science research assistants play a role in supporting studies in fields like public health, economics, political science and psychology.

They contribute by helping with tasks such as reviewing research collecting and analyzing data, summarizing findings, and coordinating projects.

Assistants provide scientists with a basis for conducting investigations. They adhere to ethical standards when it comes to appropriately handling sensitive participant information.

Individuals interested in becoming a social science research assistant should evaluate if they have the statistical capability, knowledge of research methods, communication skills, time management abilities, and attention to detail needed.

Gaining relevant experience in college via coursework, internships, and assistantships goes a long way to preparing one for the career.

While compensation varies by location and setting, the social science research assistant job provides reasonable pay at an entry-level.

Employers designing job descriptions and expectations for social science research assistants should structure roles focused on developing well-rounded skill sets.

Providing opportunities to participate in studies from inception to publication allows assistants to understand the full research cycle.

Offering continuing education on emerging data tools and analytical approaches also enhances capabilities.

Recognizing the key contributions assistants bring enables organizations to produce higher quality scholarship.

Social science research assistants get to immerse themselves in cutting-edge findings across fields poised to advance human welfare based on evidence.

It is a difficult and often behind-the-scenes work, but immensely rewarding for making a difference through science.