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Research scientist (life sciences): Job description

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Research within life sciences covers a whole range of scientific disciplines including:

  • neurosciences;
  • plant sciences;
  • physiology;
  • pharmacology;
  • cancer studies;
  • microbiology;
  • genomics;
  • bioinformatics;
  • biotechnology;
  • stem cell research.

The work is close to the medical sciences but also crosses over into other areas such as biochemistry.

Researchers within this field are primarily involved in planning and conducting experiments and analysing results, either with a definite end use (to develop new products, processes or commercial applications), or to broaden scientific understanding in general.

As a researcher, you will usually carry out your experiments and research on your own, but you will typically be part of a larger team and will share your findings and relevant information with professional colleagues. This is sometimes done at international conferences or through the publication of research papers.

You can find employment in commercial or government laboratories, hospitals and higher education institutions.

Typical work activities

The exact nature of the work depends on the level of seniority of a research post, the specific area of life sciences studied and also whether the context is industrial or academic. However, it is likely that typical tasks will include:

  • creating and conducting experiments;
  • processing and analysing results and data;
  • communicating results to the scientific community via published papers;
  • collaborating with industry/academia to apply the results of research and develop new techniques, products or practices;
  • presenting ongoing work and findings to colleagues at academic conferences, and summarising the nature of the research, methodology and results;
  • carrying out field work to inform research;
  • teaching, demonstrating to or supervising students (in academia) and training and supervising other members of staff;
  • devising or helping to draw up new research proposals and applying for funding and grants;
  • working in multidisciplinary teams, in different faculties or schools in academia, and in different functions of the business in industry.

Peer reviews of written publications and presentations are needed to validate theories and inform research.

It is also important to keep abreast of the work of other scientists both within the life sciences arena and in the wider scientific community.

Attendance at academic conferences across the world is considered part of the job, rather than an additional activity. Reading journals is another important aspect of the work.

There are 10 jobs available in science and pharmaceuticals

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Written by AGCAS editors
June 2014

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