A research scientist is a scientist who works primarily with gathering knowledge and understanding research. While many scientists are employed in applied scientific fields that involve development and design work, a research scientist typically can be found in academic settings or similar areas. Because these scientists are engaged in pure research work that may not have immediate application in the business or consumer world, they tend to rely on grants and funding from academic and charitable foundations. Research scientists typically perform experiments, make observations, and create detailed papers of their findings for peer review and publishing.
Much of what any research scientist does is based on the fundamentals of the scientific method. Normally under the purview of an academic or research organization's approval, this scientist will create experiments that include both control and experimental groups. He or she will record responses based upon the introduction of a variable into both groups. The research scientist will typically draft a proposal for such experimentation, and he or she may be required to have these proposals reviewed by peers within the field to determine the validity and methodology of the research work.
Most research scientists have advanced university degrees in their target subject, typically having earned post-graduate recognition in their chosen field of study. They normally work in a lab environment, but these environments can vary, depending on the scientific specialty. Psychology labs may simply be a bank of computers, while botanical or zoological labs are set up to safely house living specimens. Research scientists typically work regular daytime hours, but they should expect that travel, field work, and irregular hours may be required from time to time by the particular subject matter of the research performed.
Research Scientist Tasks
Write grant proposals to procure external research funding.
Keep abreast of developments in their field by reading current literature, talking with colleagues, and participating in professional conferences.
Conduct research in a particular field of knowledge, and publish findings in professional journals, books, and/or electronic media.