Student Research Assistant Job Description, Key Skills and Responsibilities

By | November 30, 2023
Student Research Assistant Job Description
Student research assistants provide support to professors or principal investigators in carrying out their research projects effectively.

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

It also highlights the major requirements you may need to fulfill to be hired for the student research assistant role.

What Does a Student Research Assistant Do?

A student research assistant typically performs a wide range of duties to support faculty research projects.

The student research assistant job description involves assisting with scholarly research activities as directed by the faculty supervisor, including conducting literature reviews, collecting and analyzing data, and performing lab experiments.

It also entails carrying out field studies, conducting surveys, and following established research protocols and procedures.

The student research assistant reports directly to the professor, principal investigator, or postdoctoral researcher who is leading the research project.

This faculty supervisor provides training, guidance and oversight for the student’s work.

The student is expected to learn from the mentorship experience while also making substantive contributions to advancing the faculty member’s research agenda.

Student research assistants can work on projects across all academic fields and STEM disciplines, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and health sciences.

They are employed by colleges, universities, independent research institutes, government agencies, and other organizations engaged in research and development activities.

Most student research assistants are undergraduate or graduate students in the given field of study related to the research project.

Relevant educational background and coursework in the research field is preferred. Completion of research methodology courses is considered a plus when hiring.

In addition to their core research tasks, student assistants may also coordinate lab or field work logistics, track budgets and purchases, write summaries of findings, and assist with preparing presentations and publications.

They play a key support role in the global academic and public/private research enterprise.

Employers highly value strong research, analytical, communication, time management and computer skills.

Intellectual curiosity to learn new things is also considered important for success in the student research assistant role.

Assistants are expected to follow institutional ethics policies and regulatory guidelines for human subjects, animal testing, etc.

Student Research Assistant Job Description Example/Sample/Template

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

  • Review academic literature and publications to find relevant background information for the research project
  • Assist in designing experiments, surveys, studies etc. to generate data and test hypotheses
  • Collect data through interviews, observations, experiments, questionnaires, etc.
  • Perform qualitative and statistical analysis on data sets using appropriate methods
  • Analyze and summarize the findings of research studies, reports, manuscripts and presentations that outline the results and conclusions of the studies
  • Supervise and manage participants, in research activities such as studies, trials and focus groups
  • Records, process data and handle samples following established protocols
  • Organize research materials in databases, archives or storage facilities
  • Ensure that the laboratory or research site is clean well organized and properly equipped
  • Keep track of purchase orders for laboratory supplies and equipment inventory levels
  • Attend lab meetings, seminars and training sessions actively contributing to discussions
  • Maintain well documented notes on research tasks and outcomes
  • Adhere to safety guidelines and ethical procedures concerning human subjects, animal testing, and lab work
  • Provide research projects with general administrative support
  • Utilize computer software programs for data analysis and creating visual representations
  • Prepare materials for submission to conferences, journals, and publications
  • Complete online training, on research integrity and compliance
  • Act as a mentor to new student research assistants when needed.

Student Research Assistant Job Description for Resume

If you have worked before as a student research assistant or presently working in that role and are making a new resume or CV, then you can craft an impressive Professional Experience for your resume by applying the sample student research assistant job description provided above.

You can highlight the duties and responsibilities you have performed as a student research assistant in your resume’s Professional Experience by utilizing the ones in the above student research assistant job description example.

This will show to the recruiter/employer that you have been successful performing the duties of a student research assistant, which can greatly enhance your chances of being hired for the new position that you are seeking, especially if it requires someone with some student research assistant work experience.  

Student Research Assistant Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities for Career Success

Here are important requirements that candidates for the student research assistant position may be expected to meet to be hired:

  • Having the ability to handle tasks and prioritize effectively
  • Demonstrating a work ethic and sense of responsibility
  • Proficiency, in laboratory techniques such as pipetting, microscopy and equipment usage among others
  • Possessing quantitative skills and capabilities in statistical analysis
  • Familiarity with discipline specific computer applications commonly used in the field
  • Completion of relevant academic coursework related to the field of study
  • Knowledge and experience in utilizing library search tools and academic databases
  • Displaying a genuine interest in scholarly research with some practical experience

Additionally it can be advantageous for student research assistants to have completed courses covering research methods, research ethics, statistics, and discipline in specific writing.

Acquaintance with protocols and primary literature within the research area can also be highly beneficial.

Student Research Assistant Salary

Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for student research assistants is $27,430.

However, salaries can vary depending on factors such as the university, department, and source of funding.

The top five states offering pay rates, for student research assistants in 2022 were:

1. California; $38,330

2. Massachusetts; $35,690

3. Maryland: $33,830

4. Connecticut: $33,580

5. New Jersey: $33,400


Being a student research assistant allows undergraduates and graduate students to obtain hands-on research experience, develop technical skills, and build their academic resumes.

Working closely with faculty mentors on projects, research assistants get exposure to scholarly work across all disciplines.

The core duties that make up the student research assistant job description include assisting with experiments, data collection and analysis, lab work, conducting interviews and surveys, and literature reviews.

Student assistants play a vital support role in helping advance faculty research agendas. They get to apply concepts from their coursework and gain insights into potential career paths.

This post covered the key responsibilities, required competencies, salary overview, and benefits of working as a student research assistant during college.

The experience provides a strong foundation for future research, analysis, and scientific roles.

Both students looking to gain skills and faculty seeking motivated assistants can benefit from understanding this valuable position and its job description.