A Research Assistant
(or R.A.) is a junior graduate scholar
, employed on a temporary contract by a college
for the purpose of academic research
. A research assistant usually works on a project supervised by one or more full-time academics
who are responsible for administering the funds from which he or she is paid.
Nowadays, most research assistantships are postdoctoral, i.e. candidates must hold (or be in the latter stages of acquiring) a Ph.D. These appointments usually last for two years.
In some universities the title Research Associate instead of "assistant". Older and more experienced contract holders often have the title of Research Fellow.