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What does a Research Specialist do?

By Lee Prangnell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A research specialist is an individual who has expertise and a strong aptitude in the area of researching a particular subject. A general research specialist might have an overall aptitude for engaging in any type research, which means that he or she could conduct research in a number of subjects, such as market research, academic research or intelligence research, for example. There is a vast amount of information that can be retrieved on the Internet, so this is typically the medium from which a research specialist acquires research information. He or she collects information from reputable sources, such as governmental organizations, academic institutions and online journals.

Undertaking market research is a fundamental requirement for a business corporation. All companies that are in the business of providing products and services must acquire information related to the relevant market. A market research specialist is employed to gather qualitative and quantitative information in relation to the potential market opportunities for the product or service in question. The qualitative information might be in the form of conducting surveys and might include engaging in discussions with potential customers in order to gather consumer opinions. The quantitative information could be in the form of statistical analysis of the business sector.

An academic research specialist might be an academic who is undertaking research as part of a research professor role. This type of researcher typically conducts research based on peer-reviewed work that has been completed, including the utilization of information within peer-reviewed journal entries and completed theses, for example. The research undertaken by an academic research specialist typically includes qualitative and quantitative research information. If the research is scientific and/or mathematical in nature, the research will be dominated by quantitative research, which might be expressed in the form of mathematical equations, for example.

Another type of researcher is an intelligence research specialist. This type of researcher typically conducts research for governmental organizations or military agencies. The kind of research that is conducted is typically quantitative in nature, which might include statistical information and other relevant factual data that is of interest to the subject area. In many developing nations, governments and non-governmental organizations have a dedicated website from which statistical information can be acquired by a researcher. This is useful for researchers because it provides a centralized repository from which the statistical information can be derived, which could potentially speed up the overall process of conducting the intelligence research.

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Discussion Comments
By allenJo — On Oct 19, 2011

@everetra - I agree. I think that real consumer market research is conducted over the phone, where they can hear your voice. They also have a statistical model for polling so many different people across a wide demographic, so that they are sure that they get the most accurate results.

By everetra — On Oct 19, 2011

@hamje32 - There is one type of Internet market research that I would be especially wary of. It’s those sites that ask you to take surveys so that you can get points or even money.

The idea, supposedly, is that marketing companies want to know what you think of different products, so they ask you to take the surveys. I don’t think that a real Internet research specialist would work that way, personally.

Think about it. How does the survey site know that you’re stating you’re real opinion, and not just lying? I think the whole thing is just a ruse for them to collect information on you, or get you to participate in offers.

By hamje32 — On Oct 18, 2011

@MrMoody - That sounds like it would be neat. I think the intelligence research specialist mentioned in the article would be the most important job of all, however.

I have heard that the challenge with intelligence is not the quality of intelligence, but that it exists in so many different places. A good intelligence research associate would need to collate information from a variety of different databases and even work across different intelligence departments.

There used to be a “wall” from what I understand between different intelligence agencies but it no longer exists; I think there is a lot more cooperation between intelligence agencies.

Anyway, the research associate would need to work with all of them, get all the correct data together, and draw the right conclusions. That would be the most powerful job in my opinion.

By MrMoody — On Oct 17, 2011

I actually interviewed for a research analyst position, for a consulting company that researched software products. I don’t remember all the details of their services but basically my job would have been to try out new software, learn it as quickly as possible, and then write an analysis of what I thought.

I would have become a consultant. It’s a job that carries great responsibilities, because clients would call you and ask you to compare two competing software products. If you give them wrong advice, they could stand to lose thousands or potentially even millions of dollars if they choose the wrong product.

Ultimately I never got the job but it seemed kind of interesting at the time; I think this type of work would be perfect for someone who was technical and had writing skills.

By whiteplane — On Oct 17, 2011

A friend of mine is one of those people who has a kiosk at the mall and recruits people to watch movie trailers and give their responses. I guess this would be considered a form of market research. I have to be honest, he hates his job. He just has to spend all day listening to people who either hate the trailers he shows, or who love trailers that are obviously for terrible movies.

Basically, he has to get a daily reminder of how base the culture is. But a job is a job and the money is actually not that bad. He want to go into marketing one day and I guess he considers this a good way to get his foot in the door. I don't know how he does it though. I don't even like going into the mall as a consumer, to say nothing of working there ever day.

By summing — On Oct 17, 2011

I recently obtained a masters degree in library science. I discovered, to my great disappointment, that I probably did not ever want to become a librarian. Now I have a degree that I don't want and a lot of questions about my future.

I have been looking into different freelance researching opportunities. I figure, librarianship is basically just finding information so I have at least a few qualifications. There are more of these jobs than you would expect too. I have been able to find a few sites that post between 10 and 20 different jobs a day.

Most of them are short term and a lot of them don't pay much, but if I can establish a reputation for myself I might be able to make a living off of this in the near future. Sometimes a research specialist doesn't have to have a specialty in anything besides researching.

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