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talking about research


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I have had a few positions that have had "research" in the position title. For two places, I was the "Research Assistant." For one of those two places, I have become "Research Consultant." For another place, I was the "Research & Policy Intern."

Question: What is research experience exactly? I worry that I'll look like a fool if I talk about something like it's research experience while it is, in fact, far from it.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to help write or lead the writing of any published reports besides fact sheets.

The "Research Consultant" position is something I am currently involved in, and I may be able to write an informal analysis of what I would call qualitative data (I'm interviewing graduates of a program/department in order to asses the program/department). Before becoming this place's "Research Consultant" I was responsible for picking the methodological readings we did in order to prepare for the research we're doing. We would discuss the reading in order to select research methods we favored (feminist vs. objective positivism). I have also been highly involved in developing the questions for the interviews (in fact, most of the questions were generated by me) and I have been the primary interviewer. I feel this is probably most like the "research experiences" schools are looking as compared to the other research I've done but I don't know.

For example, for the "Research & Policy Intern" position, I made some fact sheets that were used for lobbying and education. Much of the work consisted of condensing data that was already analyzed or just finding a few stats myself to support statements. There were a few instances where I got to confer some meaning and analysis, but not many. Can I still talk about this as serious research??

For the "Research Assistant" position, I just entered survey data into SPSS for my boss. Can I mention this experience as research?

I mean, I'm not sure if all stages of research can be used as examples of my experience as a researcher and/or as evidence to my interest in becoming more of a researcher.


also, if anyone else is having trouble gauging the seriousness or viability of their "research" experience, feel free to ask here, too!

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Keep in mind my background comes from natural sciences and health sciences.

Sounds like your research assistant work (interviewing + SPSS work) could be called research. Your intern work is less of the traditional research since you just put together info pamphlets.

Generally, "research" when applying to graduate schools encompasses work towards novel and new ideas and theories that further the knowledge of the field. That's why the intern work probably wouldn't fall under that category that is useful for graduate schools.

Hope this helps!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with the previous poster. There is a difference between more business oriented research and academic research, but it sounds like you definitely do have some research experience that will be good for your application. I'm in a similar situation, with many years of business research experience but not so much academic research experience.

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