Research Assistant and Research Associate.

If you’re currently searching for jobs and are buried knee-deep in job titles and positions, you cannot afford to make mistakes. There are countless opportunities out there, but not all jobs are the same. No matter how similar they may sound. Know more about research assistant and research associate.

Research Assistant and Research Associate.

An associate and an assistant are very different. And if you fail to realize this difference, you might accidentally end up signing up for a position you weren’t aiming for in the first place. 

A research assistant is more closely associated with the research than a research associate. The research assistant works with the main research team and helps perform the research at various levels. An associate, on the other hand, has a more varied role. They are qualified to conduct and organize researches and also act as consultants. However, mostly, they are more concerned with the planning and execution than the actual research.

Words are important. More so, when they are supposed to describe an entire job position. Even if they sound and look similar, the meanings they carry can be far apart from each other. The same also stands true for an assistant and an associate. 

Definitions and Differences

A research assistant and Research associate seem like the one and the same thing. You’re not at fault here. They sound like the same thing. In our everyday life, none of us go around making hard and rigid distinctions between an ‘assistant’ and an ‘associate.’ So, naturally, when it comes to job descriptions, we don’t bother to pay much attention to these details. 

But these details can be essential in the job search process. More so, to attain the role that you know you can fulfil. 

Think of it this way: Your entire life, you’ve dreamt of working at the laboratory, carrying out experiments. But, instead of an assistant, you apply for an associate’s position. The slight difference is a meaningful one because the roles and responsibilities change entirely. 

So, here is an introduction to what an assistant and an associate are. We give you definitions and their responsibilities at the workplace.

The Research Assistant

A research assistant works with private and public organizations to carry out research, keeping in mind the mandated protocol. Usually, assistants are hired temporarily. Academically speaking, assistants tend to work under supervisors and more experienced researchers in a specific field.

The research assistant does not lead the research. They simply help make the process easier. They collect data, file logistics, go through literature reviews and research papers and help with interpretation. But that is not to say that the position is trivial.

The role of a research assistant is more often than not fulfilled by novice researchers. Not only is it a great start in the world of researching, but it also ropes a person in the process of researching. You become a part of the research instead of being a mere spectator. There’s no better way to learn than on the field, under the supervision of specialists. 

Requirements to Become a Research Assistant

Research assistants are expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Since research work relies on some level of academic background, you are required to have knowledge of a specific field.

Although it should be mentioned, that, it is never too late to get into research. Unlike some other jobs, research can be pursued at any stage of your career. Most researchers tend to be seniors and highly experienced. 

To be an assistant, however, experience isn’t always a requirement. Although, some might ask you for your experience in the field. When talking about scientific research, you will be expected to have some experience of working in a science lab, in your university, or otherwise.


This list of an assistant’s duties is not exhaustive and is subject to change depending on the environment and nature of the research industry.

  • Collecting Data and Logistics
  • Interpretation of Data
  • Proofreading of research paper and reviewing the literature 
  • Identifying Models and Analysing research techniques 

The Research Associate 

Compared to an assistant, a research associate is more disconnected from the actual research. A research associate is more concerned with investment, planning, and organizing researches in various fields. 

In an academic setting, research associates are invited on a budgeted basis and provide consultancy and advice to a number of researchers across departments. 

However, in the modern world, the word ‘Research Associate’ has become increasingly common in the banking world. When it comes to economics, research associates carry out researches on investment, with the clear aim of providing good advice to the organization. 

The job of a research associate is spread out amongst industries but there are still a few similarities in their jobs and responsibilities. 

Requirements to Become a Research Associate

Just like an assistant, an associate, too, has to have a higher education degree. You are expected to have academic knowledge in your respective field, essential for carrying out effective researches. 

Experience is a requirement when it comes to an associate job. However, one can still aim for this position at a nascent stage of their career.


Here, are a few responsibilities that are carried out by research associates every day. The list is not exhaustive and is subject to change depending upon the nature of the industry.

  • Monitoring researches and ensuring that the lawful protocol is adhered to
  • Offer research assistance and consultancy whenever required
  • Planning and organizing researches
  • Training of staff members and volunteers

There is, of course, a lot more to both these roles. This article only scratches the surface. But it does give you a glimpse into how vastly different both these roles can be from each other. 


Language and its nuances aren’t something exclusive to experienced linguists. We, in our everyday lives, too, experience this nuance. Assistant and Associate is just a part of the English language’s complexity. But, more than that, they’re two words you’re very likely to come across in the span of your life.

Especially if you’re a job seeker. A little confusion can very much derail your job hunt. So, the next time you apply for a job, maybe it will be a good decision to open up at Merriam-Webster’s and search up a few words.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Who is a research assistant?

A research assistant is temporarily employed by an institute or an organization to help assist with ongoing research. They mostly help with logistics, reviewing papers, and aid with fieldwork.

Q2. Who is a research associate?

A research associate plans and organizes researches. In an academic setting, they act as consultants to various researchers across departments. The role of a research associate is a growing one in the banking industry.

Q3. Is a Research Associate on the same level as a Research assistant?

There is no defined hierarchy between the two titles. In most cases, it depends on the organization itself. A research associate can be on the same level or below a research analyst and a research assistant. The reverse is also possible.

Research Assistant and Research Associate.

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