Job Search

Research Scientist vs. Data Scientist: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

If you’re interested in a career in science, you may be wondering whether you should become a research scientist or a data scientist. Both of these positions are in high demand and offer competitive salaries. However, they differ in terms of their focus and responsibilities. In this article, we compare research scientists and data scientists, discussing the similarities and differences between the two roles. We also provide information on what you can expect in terms of job outlook and salary.

What is a Research Scientist?

Research Scientists conduct experiments and analyze data to expand scientific knowledge in specific fields. They develop new theories or disprove existing ones. Research Scientists typically specialize in a particular field, such as physics, biology or chemistry. They use the scientific method to design experiments, collect data and draw conclusions. They may work in academic settings, government agencies or private companies. Research Scientists typically have a Ph.D. in their field and spend their time conducting independent research. They may also teach classes or supervise graduate students.

What is a Data Scientist?

Data scientists collect, process and analyze large data sets to identify trends, patterns and relationships. They use their findings to help organizations make better business decisions. Data scientists typically have a background in computer science, mathematics or statistics. They use their technical skills to clean and prepare data for analysis. They then use their analytical skills to identify trends and patterns. Data scientists also use their communication skills to present their findings to clients or management.

Research Scientist vs. Data Scientist

Here are the main differences between a research scientist and a data scientist.

Job Duties

Research scientists focus on conducting experiments and analyzing data to better understand a particular subject. They work with various teams in different departments within a company to help develop new products or services. Their job duties may include designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, developing new hypotheses and presenting findings to stakeholders.

Data scientists apply the knowledge gained from research to inform business decisions. They use the data they collect to identify patterns and predict future outcomes that can help guide their organization toward success. Data scientists often work closely with other members of management to determine how best to utilize the information they receive. They also commonly oversee projects like building predictive models and creating machine learning algorithms.

Job Requirements

Research scientists usually need a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field, such as biology, chemistry or physics. They might also pursue a master’s degree or doctorate to qualify for more advanced positions. Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics or another related field. However, many data scientists have a master’s degree or doctorate, which can help them stand out to employers.

Work Environment

Research scientists typically work in a laboratory setting, where they can perform experiments and analyze data. They may also work for pharmaceutical companies or other organizations that require them to test products on animals or humans. Data scientists often work in an office environment, analyzing large amounts of data from various sources. Some data scientists may work as consultants, traveling to different locations to help clients with their data needs.


Both research scientists and data scientists use analytical skills to examine data and solve problems. They also need to be able to effectively communicate their findings to others, whether they are presenting their work to colleagues or publishing their results in a scientific journal.

However, there are some key differences in the skills that these two professionals use. Research scientists tend to focus more on designing experiments and collecting data, while data scientists spend more time analyzing data. Data scientists also benefit from having strong computer programming skills, as they often use software to clean, organize and analyze data. Additionally, data scientists may use machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and trends in data sets.


The average salary for a research scientist is $93,368 per year, while the average salary for a data scientist is $118,822 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of research you’re doing, the industry you’re working in and the level of experience you have.


Fire Marshal vs. Fire Inspector: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Creative Manager vs. Creative Director: What Are the Differences?