Volunteer Research Assistant Job Description, Key Duties and Responsibilities

By | December 6, 2023
Volunteer Research Assistant Job Description
Volunteer research assistants have the responsibility to verify accuracy and consistency of entered or compiled data.

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

It also highlights the major requirements that you may be asked to fulfill to be hired for the volunteer research assistant role by most recruiters/employers.

What Does a Volunteer Research Assistant Do?

A volunteer research assistant provides administrative and organizational support to medical research teams to help facilitate the completion of studies and clinical trials.

Volunteer research assistants report directly to the lead researcher or principal investigator overseeing the study they are supporting.

This lead researcher may be a medical doctor, PhD scientist, professor, or other qualified research expert.

Volunteer research positions are available through universities, medical schools, clinics, hospitals, medical nonprofits, assisted living facilities, science startups, and other organizations sponsoring medical studies.

Opportunities span both clinical and laboratory settings.

There is no universal education or training requirements, although some familiarity with basic research concepts through coursework or a related degree is preferred.

Required training is typically provided on-the-job. Human subject protection certification may be necessary.

The volunteer research assistant job description involves coordinating study logistics, managing participant communications, and collecting/processing data and samples, as well as assisting with procedures.

It also entails data entry and documentation, preparation of materials, and general administrative assistance.

The volunteer research assistant’s duties may also include participant recruitment, community engagement, education, outreach, fund development, and compiling study results.

This role takes on heightened importance in developing countries where medical research budgets are more constrained.

Their assistance with study coordination, data collection, and community engagement allows complex studies to move forward that might otherwise be impossible due to limited funding to hire full-time staff.

When selecting volunteer assistants, employers look for candidates who are organized, meticulous with details, comfortable following protocols, and possess strong verbal, written and interpersonal skills.

Having a background in a medical or scientific field is desirable but not required with proper on-the-job training.

While volunteer research assistants are valued contributors, they may not take on independent roles reserved for the principal investigator or licensed medical staff.

Oversight is provided in alignment with ethical guidelines from bodies such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Human Research Protections, and institutional review boards monitoring each study.

Proper training ensures volunteers act within set boundaries.

Volunteer Research Assistant Job Description Example/Sample/Template

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

  • Track participant vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar 
  • Document participant medical histories
  • Accurately record study data and participant responses on paper or in databases
  • Update participant files showing enrollment status, visits, milestones reached
  • Schedule and remind participants of ongoing study appointments  
  • Answer participant questions about study details and expectations
  • Distribute study drugs, placebos, or medical devices to participants  
  • Help doctors and nurses with medical procedures, when permitted
  • Log biological samples and enter related specifics
  • Prepare documents and visuals to support lead researcher 
  • Perform literature reviews summarizing existing research background
  • Enter completed survey and study tool data into databases
  • Digitize paper documents via scanning, uploading, renaming, backing up
  • Compile data sets and reports for statistical analysis as needed 
  • Verify accuracy and consistency of entered or compiled data
  • File study documents and update records properly 
  • Schedule and prepare for project meetings and reviews
  • Help with quality assurance to pinpoint improvement areas 
  • Maintain clean, orderly research areas
  • Complete training to properly carry out other delegated study tasks
  • Assist with participant recruitment by distributing study information, screening responses, and scheduling appointments
  • Guide participants through informed consent procedures
  • Administer surveys, interviews, and study questionnaires.

Volunteer Research Assistant Job Description for Resume

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

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

This will show to the recruiter/employer that you have been successful performing the volunteer research assistant duties and responsibilities, which can enhance the effectiveness of your resume and increase your chances of getting the new job, especially if it requires someone with some volunteer research assistant work experience.   

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

Here are important requirements, including skills, knowledge, and abilities that candidates for the volunteer research assistant position may be expected to meet to be hired:

  • Being well organized and paying attention to details; it is important to track information and adhere to protocols
  • Punctuality; being reliable and always available to support the research team
  • Following instructions accurately; adhering precisely to study procedures in order to maintain validity
  • Computer skills; proficiently navigating software and databases that is necessary for the research
  • Effective communication in both writing and speaking; clearly explaining information and exchanging details with clarity
  • Comfortable conversing with study participants; interacting respectfully with subjects involved in the study
  • Methodical data collection; diligently gathering information
  • Eagerness to learn new concepts and take on tasks; being flexible and motivated to develop abilities in various areas
  • Seamless multitasking while maintaining accuracy; handling duties, without compromising quality
  • Can work well with others and contribute to achieving team goals
  • Good learner. Take the initiative to develop skills even with minimal guidance
  • Demonstrate attentiveness. Ask questions to ensure good understanding of things clearly
  • Comfortable using office equipment, such as photocopiers, scanners, and shredders
  • Understanding codes and guidelines for studies involving participants
  • Familiarity with effective techniques of research methods and data analysis
  • Knowledge of prevailing publication and documentation guidelines
  • Experience with database entry and coding to effectively track and process data
  • Understand the importance of navigating institutional review board approval processes in research
  • Ability to adhere to health privacy laws as it involves confidentiality and disclosure rules.

Volunteer Research Assistant Salary

Volunteer research assistants typically aren’t paid, as they donate their time and abilities to gain experience and contribute to science.

However, some roles offer a stipend or hourly rate to cover costs like transportation or food. The amount varies by organization, position, and location.

While no definitive data exists on volunteer research assistant wages, certain states’ higher volunteerism rates and expenses suggest more opportunities for compensation.

Based on general volunteer and cost of living information, here are 5 states where volunteer assistants may be more likely to receive payment:

  • California – With strong volunteer culture and many universities and research institutes, California volunteers may see increased compensation chances. 
  • Massachusetts – Another state with robust volunteerism and ample research institutions, Massachusetts volunteers may also see better payment odds.
  • New York – As an epicenter of research and innovation, New York volunteers could have greater odds of being paid for their work. 
  • Maryland – Home to multiple government agencies and research institutes, Maryland volunteers may see compensation more frequently.
  • Virginia – A strong economic state with many research facilities, Virginia volunteers may have elevated chances at remuneration as well.

The combination of volunteer spirit and abundant research organizations boosts the possibility of payment for volunteer assistants in these five states.

But motivation, experience and advancing science – not money – remain volunteers’ key rewards.


Volunteering as a research assistant is a meaningful way to play a part in groundbreaking health studies, as the info on this page shows.

It’s a position of genuine responsibility, but also offers the deep fulfillment of facilitating medical innovations.

The role lets you contribute to something bigger than yourself. And by immersing yourself in the medical field’s daily operations, you gain know-how that serves you well in related careers down the line.

For those keen to advance health breakthroughs while preparing for their own, it’s a rewarding way to spend your time and talent.

For current medical practitioners and researchers, remember to acknowledge these volunteer assistants who make so much of your promising work possible.

Provide enough training and flexibility for them to maximize their talents. Together as a team, we can push the boundaries of medical knowledge ever further—improving outcomes for patients worldwide.

The valuable contributions of volunteer research assistants cannot be overstated. If making a lasting impact by tackling our most pressing medical challenges inspires you, then step up and lend your assistance to these essential studies.

Our health and lives stand to benefit greatly thanks to these dedicated volunteers furthering clinical research every day.

This post is helpful to individuals interested in working as a volunteer research assistant. They will be able to learn all about the duties and responsibilities a volunteer research assistant does, and so be well prepared for the role.

It is also useful to recruiters/employers in making a detailed job description for the volunteer research assistant position in their organizations, for use in hiring competent individuals for the position.