Research experience isn’t just for science and academia. Research is a valuable skill that’s required for a number of roles and industries, which means it almost certainly has a place on your resume. And no — that doesn’t mean writing “research” in your skills section and moving on.
Why you should list your research experience
If you’re applying for a job that involves research, listing research experience is a no-brainer. Research-specific positions, scientific jobs like Research Assistants, Lab Assistants or Technicians, graduate school applications, and most jobs in academia all require evidence of research skills. Even outside these positions, research experience demonstrates valuable transferable skills, like critical thinking and attention to detail. Which is not to say that you need to include research experience on every resume — if it makes you a stronger candidate, include it, but if it isn’t relevant and doesn’t add anything else to your candidacy, leave it off.
How to list research experience in your resume
Like a lot of desirable skills, research is a soft skill, meaning it’s not something you can claim as an objective fact on your resume without backing it up. What you can do instead is prove it — what previous role involved a lot of research? What resume accomplishments do you have that highlight your research experience?
Showing how you used research skills in action is the best way to demonstrate the value you could bring to the company and role you’re applying for.
In a dedicated section
If you come from a research background, you might want to title your work experience ‘Research.’ Alternatively, you could create two experience sections — one titled ‘Work Experience’ and one titled ‘Research Experience’ — if you also have a lot of non-research experience but want to highlight your most relevant experience first. You can go into more detail when applying for a research-focused role by describing the project and specifying the nature of the research and your role in it.
In your work experience
Including research experience in your main work experience section is appropriate if it was paid work or if it was your most recent and relevant experience. List the employer — for example, the university or research department — job title, dates, and accomplishments, just like you would any other work experience.
In your education section
If you’re a current student or recent graduate, you can list your education section at the top of your resume. You can also make this section a little more comprehensive if you don’t have a lot of work experience, by including things like awards, coursework, and academic research.
If you undertook research as part of your studies and it demonstrates skills relevant to the job you’re applying for, list your research accomplishments in bullet points under the education section of your resume.
Listing research publications
If you have a lot of publications that came out of your research, and you want to draw attention to them — and if they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for — consider creating a separate Publications section. Formal publications like these are an excellent way to add credibility to your research experience.
List each publication in a new bullet point with the title, year, and name of the magazine, website, or journal. Academic publications can be listed more formally if it’s relevant, like if you’re applying for graduate school or a role in academia.
In a projects section
If your research experience is less extensive or wasn’t quite relevant enough to include alongside your work experience or education, you can still highlight it in a Projects section. Keep this brief and include 1-2 bullet points showcasing your key research accomplishments.
In your skills section
Research skills can go in your skills section — as long as they’re hard skills. Steer clear of listing generic skills like “Research” — instead, use our keyword finder to look for relevant skills and keywords and include specific hard skills like data analysis, project management, software proficiency, and certifications.
Hard skills can be listed in a Skills or Additional Information section or your resume.
In your resume summary
If you’re applying for a position where research experience is essential, consider emphasizing your experience by including a short resume summary at the top of your resume. This should include the title of the job you’re applying for and a brief overview of your background and key skills.
Examples of listing research experience in your resume
No matter where you choose to include it, always list research experience in concise, accomplishment-focused bullet points. These should follow the structure of action verb + what you did + what the result was. Here are some examples of resume bullet points you can use or modify to suit your own research experiences:
Highlight research projects
- Assisted with cell development research projects as part of the Leukemia Research team — identifying cell changes, determining cell counts and coulter counters with 98% accuracy.
If you have significant research experience, describe it! The more relevant it is to the position you’re applying for, the more detail you can go into. Make sure to specify exactly what stages of research you worked on and what your contribution was.
Mention awards for your research
- Awarded “Total Quality Award” in recognition of consistent high standards of quality work for research excellence (only 3 awarded in class of 500).
If the high quality of your work has been acknowledged by an award, early promotion, or similar outside recognition, include it! In addition to the name of the award or accolade, don’t forget to specify context (e.g. 'out of class of 500 people' to increase its credibility.
Demonstrate technical expertise
- Created over 75 3D models with CAD tools such as Solidworks and ANSYS.
If you have experience with specific software or tools that you’ll be using in the position you’re applying for, include a bullet point accomplishment specifying how you’ve used them. While this isn't direct 'research' experience, it uses tools that are relevant to research projects — this is a good way of showing that you have research skill sets without having formal research experience.
Use 'research-focused' action verbs
- Researched and edited two articles and one book chapter on prenatal substance abuse, policy implication of Human Genome Project.
Use action verbs like "Researched" or "Scoured" which clearly emphasize research skills. In some cases (like in this example), you can list publications in your bullet points itself. If you’ve authored academic papers, books, or articles, this is a great way to show the validity and importance of your research.
Include accomplishments related to research studies
- Oversaw screening and recruitment of over 100 participants to study, liaised with laboratory personnel and site coordinators to ensure study is completed on time with 100% success.
Not all research positions involve pure research. Make sure you highlight appropriate related accomplishments, like managing research study participant data and enrolments or managing a team of research assistants.
Include accomplishments relating to research in your field
- Conducted legal research; organized and analyzed data and evidence for over 50 cases annually.
If research is part of the job description, make sure you include at least one bullet point highlighting how you’ve used those skills in the past. Including metrics, like the number of cases you’ve researched, contextualizes your accomplishments and helps them stand out.
- Conducted marketing research for both buy-side and sell-side resulting in 15 strong leads.
Research isn’t just limited to science and academia. Demonstrate your skills in action by the context and end results of your research, like the number of leads it generated or the increase in sales figures.