Research Coordinator vs Research assistant..what's the difference


Full Member
10+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2008
  1. Pre-Medical
    Ok, I will be having a job interview for a "research study coordinator" position (the pediatrics dept. at my local univ. hospital). the doctor contacted me a while ago and asked if I wanted a job interview so I could gain "experience".

    I am a bit nervous because I already had a couple job interviews for the same type of positions and NOTHING they don't call me back.
    I barely graduated and I did volunteer as an RA at my university (psych dept) and I am currently a new RA at this other psych lab at my local university.

    My plan is to go to grad school in fall 2009 (hopefully). when they ask what my future plans are, I tell them what they go to grad school. I am not sure if this is something I should be saying or what? Do I have a weakness because I don't have experience as an RA in a hard science lab or what? I honestly would like to know what to say to these people so I can get the job.

    Based on my RA psych I aiming too high? (for a research study coordinator job).

    What are the main differences between a research study coordinator and a Research assistant?

    anyway, I'd like to know what you guys think about this and hopefully you don't get confused by my long message. thanks!


    Post-Doctoral Fellow
    10+ Year Member
    Feb 25, 2008
    1. Post Doc
      I worked as a research coordinator for a couple of years at a hospital. My responsibilities were basically running a couple studies at a time from start to finish, including recruitment, administering any tests etc. and data analysis. When I worked as an RA, I did more lit review and data analysis than running an entire study. So my guess is that a RC has more responsibility than an RA. But my first thought was RC is used a lot in medical settings and RA is more of a university/academic title but I'm guessing they're kind of similar and it depends on who your supervisor is.


      Full Member
      10+ Year Member
      Mar 14, 2007
      East Coast
      1. Psychologist
        In larger labs, research coordinators are in charge of scheduling, overseeing and delegating work to the research assistants. In smaller labs, there may be a lot of overlap in the duties of a research coordinator and a research assistant.

        As far as what to say in the interview, I think you should continue to be straight forward about your interest in graduate school. I imagine that the vast majority of people interviewing for such a position are interested in continuing their educations, so it should not come as a surprise to the interviewer. Also, most research labs rotate personnel pretty frequently because so many of the assistants and coordinators go on to grad school.

        Your lack of research experience in the hard sciences may be seen as a drawback by some, but there's not much you can do but keep trying.


        Full Member
        10+ Year Member
        5+ Year Member
        Jan 27, 2008
        Chicago, IL
        1. Psychologist
          I'm currently working as a Research Coordinator and I have worked as a Research Assistant in the past. The previous posts are right in that as a research coordinator you have more administrative responsibilities, such as recruiting, filing IRB forms, scheduling participants, but may also include research experience such as assisting with the study design, scoring of measures, data entry, data analysis, to even writing up results. In my past experience as a research assistant, I mainly ran participants, did data entry, and some literature review. As a research coordinator, your responsibilities may depend a lot on the lab and the personnel, for example, if you're short-staffed, you may end up doing a lot of the testing yourself. From my experience, I definitely feel that as a research coordinator I have much greater understanding the work that a study can entail, as well as gained much needed skills that will later be needed in grad school.

          In terms of your interview, I think telling them you are interested in grad school may help. It gives the interviewer a sense that you're not just interviewing just to have a job, but you have a vested interest in research. I think for me that's what ultimately helped when I interviewed for the job, as the skills you need to be a well-rounded researcher are mostly driven by your interest in research, its not something that everyone is cut out to do.

          Hope this helps!
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