What are research and development positions, and what are positions that are not research and development positions?

Are software engineers, data analyst/engineer/scientist, and statistician considered research and development positions?

I saw some PhD students state that they are seeking research and development positions in their resumes, but I am not sure what positions most master and undergraduate students in STEM fields are looking for.

closed as too broad by Jim G., gnat, David K, Adam V, jcmeloni Oct 10 '15 at 18:01

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    R&D really isn't about the job title, it's about the job description. Software engineers can work on production level code, or they can work on conceptual program design to pitch a new product. – David K Oct 7 '15 at 12:18
  • They are looking for rnd work in their field instead of going into industry – Pepone Oct 7 '15 at 20:55

I wanted to give a definition of my own. But, seems like Investopedia has a better one:

Investigative activities that a business chooses to conduct with the intention of making a discovery that can either lead to the development of new products or procedures, or to improvement of existing products or procedures. Research and development is one of the means by which business can experience future growth by developing new products or processes to improve and expand their operations.

So, people working on researching and experiments of products, which are yet to go public are what crudely defines R&D engineers.

For example: A data engineer builds the data stack and architecture of the company, so it would not be called an R&D position/job.

However, a data scientist works on AB testing, research about the marketing growth, etc; so they are R&D engineers, and so are engineering working on products which are yet to be made public and still under development, receiving active criticism from the beta testers.

  • Thanks. On resume and/or cover letter etc, is it usually better to specify seeking R and D positions, or seeking non R and D positions? if I have preference for R and D, but don't want to restrict myself to R and D, what should I say in my resume and during interview? – Tim Oct 7 '15 at 5:38
  • I forgot to ask in my post: Are quantitative analysts in Fiance and in IT companies R and D? – Tim Oct 7 '15 at 5:40
  • You can write like this: Looking for an opportunity where I can improve my programming and research skills and have a potential for growth Yes, quantitative finance analysts are R&D, as they continuously develop(and/or) analyze algorithms which can understand and fit market movements. – Dawny33 Oct 7 '15 at 5:41
  • Thanks. (1) how about quantitative analysts in IT companies (such as Facebook, Google)? (2) Another dumb question: is "research and development position" same as "development and research position"? I saw some wrote the latter in their resume. Does it mean different emphasis/preference on development and on research? – Tim Oct 7 '15 at 5:44
  • Yes. The quantitative analyst positions at IT companies are also R&D, as they would be doing analysis on company's growth, marketing and finance. And Yes, both are the same. – Dawny33 Oct 7 '15 at 5:48

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;" - Shakespeare

R&D has some general connotations, but many companies will use the name to cover different things. For my current employer, R&D covers: PC support, console room (server support/management), infrastructure and framework development, new product development and support/enhancement of existing products. Basically anything technical. At a former employer, R&D was strictly research and initial build-out of new products. Once released these products were maintained by teams in the 'business' side of the house.

Instead of trying to figure out the right name for each possible employer, you should describe the kind of work you actually want to do.

  • Odd choice of metaphor, since half a dozen people died over a long weekend in that story due to the name(s). Just saying .... – Wesley Long Oct 7 '15 at 15:47
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    Juliet didn't care about the name and neither should OP – cdkMoose Oct 7 '15 at 15:50

I suspect R&D means different things to an undergrad, than it means to a grad student. And probably something different for someone with a masters compared to someone with a PhD.

To an undergrad R&D is going to be more about project work. It probably does not need to be new development but would include improving processes and products. What it is not is maintaining or operating on existing processes.

To a someone with a PhD, they are probably looking for work on theoretical projects and concept work. That is not to say that they would be unwilling to help improve existing work, their ideal position would not involve any of that type of effort though. Also someone with a PhD is more likely to want to direct a team doing the work rather than being the one directly responsible for implementing any Ideas or concepts.

Someone with a masters is probably going to fall between these two. A masters student is more likely to accept a role implementing concepts directly, or a position improving existing products or processes.

However people are different. The best way to find out what they are looking for is to ask them. Explain what the position would be doing and ask them if that sort of work sounds fun and exciting to them.

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