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A Research Associate is a budgeted position with a formal job description that is perpetual in an academic institution. In some universities/research institutes, such as Harvard/Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Public Health, the candidate holds the degree of Ph.D. or possess training equivalent to that required for the Ph.D. In addition, the candidate must have demonstrated exceptional fitness in independent research. A Research Associate usually will lead a major part of a research grant. Higher specialized skills and more independence in implementing your own ideas than a postdoctoral research assistant / postdoc. This position allows the candidate to enlarge professional network, get more experience, get publications, fellowships, grants to establish independence as a PI or start looking for a more secure permanent jobs. It can advance to Senior Research Associate (higher pay with more responsibilities equivalent to a PI), Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist, Principal Research Scientist, and later Head of Research or equivalent.
In contrast to a research assistant, a research associate often has a graduate degree, such as a master's (e.g. Master of Science) or in some cases Master of Engineering or a doctoral degree (e.g. Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Pharmacy). In some cases it can be synonymous with postdoctoral research, but usually require more advanced skill sets and experience in a field.
- Harvard School of Public Health (25 November 2019). "Harvard School of Public Health Guidelines for Non-faculty Research Titles" (PDF). Harvard School of Public Health.
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