Research scientist

Designs, undertakes and analyses information from controlled laboratory-based investigations, experiments and trials.

Job description

The purpose of scientific research is to gather information and generate knowledge using both theoretical and experimental means. This work is often divided into pure research, where as yet there is no intended application, and applied research, which has a set target.

Research scientists contribute to knowledge in the fields of the natural sciences, medical science, computer science, environmental science and the social sciences. They make hypotheses, collect data and interpret results in order to answer questions about humans and the natural world. Research scientists normally have either a masters or doctorate degree in their specific fields of study, such as Physics, Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science or Psychology.

A position as a research scientist in industry is different from one at a higher education institute or at a research institution.

Work activities

  • Planning, designing and conducting experiments to investigate and analyse scientific phenomena
  • Extrapolating data to develop theories which aim to explain these phenomena
  • Keeping up to date by reading specialist literature and writing scientific articles for publication
  • Writing research grants proposals/applications for funding
  • Managing a research team
  • Teaching undergraduate and postgraduate classes
  • Supervising graduate student research and having regular meetings with them
  • Serving on university committees to discuss faculty hiring, curriculum development, graduate training and day-to-day administrative business.