Skills for a Research Assistant

Research assistants are integral parts of many offices and laboratories. They may work for professors in universities or for a policy think tank, for example. They help cut down on the time it takes for an experiment to be completed or a research paper to be written. They also provide another point of view, which can make the lead researcher’s work richer and more objective.


A research assistant must be resourceful when looking for information related to their work. They must know different databases, magazines, journals, websites and other places to find information related to their work.


Detail-oriented work is the name of the game in research. Finding relevant data is vital to being able to support a hypothesis or debunk one. A research assistant must be able to carefully sift through dozens of sources to find the exact information that applies specifically to his work.


Patience is a characteristic necessary for research assistants. Research takes time, and when a research assistant runs up against a dead end in research, patience is what will carry him through to try another route or angle.

Analysis and Problem Solving

A research assistant must be able to objectively analyze the data he produces in conducting an experiment or in his reading. Drawing appropriate conclusions from the data is a skill that is often used in laboratories and in researching various topics. Problem-solving is also necessary for research assistants as they will face dead ends in research, failed experiments and other problems.


Research assistants compile data for analysis, so it is important that he be able to develop and maintain an organizational system that makes it easy to retrieve data during his research.

Administrative Assistance

Research assistants must frequently prepare reports. For example, the job description of a research assistant at St. Louis University states that the research assistant will help prepare and edit materials for publication. They often do clerical tasks, such as photocopying and word processing. They may regularly use the Internet for research as well.


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