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Working as a research assistant...?


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I apologize if this is somewhat of a "stupid" question... but what exactly is it like to work as an R.A?

 

Can most of the "work" be done at home, or are you expected to be on campus and "clock in"? 

 

 

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I think this is highly variable from one research team to the next. Even within my department, I have worked on several different research teams resulting in very different experiences. I am currently in a social sciences field (if that helps as a frame of reference).

 

Through working for some faculty members, I have been expected to conduct all work on campus or at research sites. This involved a lot of on-campus time face-to-face. With another professor, the research was not as classified, and I am able to work at home via the school's VPN. Also for this assistantship, I am a more "senior" student now, and am able and trusted to work independently. For some professors, I have worked on the honor system to keep up with my hours, and with others I have had to submit a detailed weekly time sheet signed by the professor themselves. Even working at home, I still have had to put in all of the hours I am paid to work.

 

The nature of the work can also vary greatly. In my current position as a GRA, I have had a huge range of duties-- sometimes being directly involved with research projects (primary data collection), other times with handling and processing the data (survey building, statistical analysis), and other times I take on tasks that frees up my professor for research (attending meetings/webinars on her behalf and taking notes, copy editing, etc.).

 

Definitely not a stupid question, but a difficult one for anyone other than members of the research team you'll be working with to answer. The only way to know for sure is to experience it :) Good luck!

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I think this is highly variable from one research team to the next. Even within my department, I have worked on several different research teams resulting in very different experiences. I am currently in a social sciences field (if that helps as a frame of reference).

 

Through working for some faculty members, I have been expected to conduct all work on campus or at research sites. This involved a lot of on-campus time face-to-face. With another professor, the research was not as classified, and I am able to work at home via the school's VPN. Also for this assistantship, I am a more "senior" student now, and am able and trusted to work independently. For some professors, I have worked on the honor system to keep up with my hours, and with others I have had to submit a detailed weekly time sheet signed by the professor themselves. Even working at home, I still have had to put in all of the hours I am paid to work.

 

The nature of the work can also vary greatly. In my current position as a GRA, I have had a huge range of duties-- sometimes being directly involved with research projects (primary data collection), other times with handling and processing the data (survey building, statistical analysis), and other times I take on tasks that frees up my professor for research (attending meetings/webinars on her behalf and taking notes, copy editing, etc.).

 

Definitely not a stupid question, but a difficult one for anyone other than members of the research team you'll be working with to answer. The only way to know for sure is to experience it :) Good luck!

 

Thanks so much atlremix! That was incredibly helpful. :)

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Most profs that I know don't actually keep track of your hours. It's more the amount of work done well that they are going to keep track of.

 

I wasn't even in the country for most of my two assistant-ships. Depending on what you are doing, there really isn't much of a reason you can't do the work remotely. 

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