What Does a Research Manager Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A research manager supervises investigative activities in connection with product and service development for an employer. This can involve collecting data, generating reports, and making recommendations on the basis of the information gathered. The job requirements can depend on the employer and the nature of the work, but may include a college degree, and sometimes an advanced qualification such as a Master of Business Administration. Opportunities for employment may appear in trade magazines as well as internal company job listings.

A research manager may conduct field studies.
A research manager may conduct field studies.

One part of this work involves the development and implementation of research. This can involve creating field studies, surveys, and other methods for information collection. Research managers may need to consider legal requirements as well as the needs of the client. In clinical trials, for instance, the company must follow strict rules to administer the trial and report the results to a regulatory agency. In some cases a lead researcher supervises smaller teams who handle individual aspects of the research.

Research and development (R&D) managers are responsible for supervising staff members and overseeing the development of research projects.
Research and development (R&D) managers are responsible for supervising staff members and overseeing the development of research projects.

As information comes in, the research manager enters it and pulls it together in reports. These can include internal company updates that provide information on the progress of a study as well as formal reports intended for public viewing. Research managers can test products and services in different markets, explore different designs and slogans, and engage in other data collection to see who responds to products, and how. This can require knowledge in fields like psychology to understand and interpret the research results.

Within a company, a research manager may participate in early stages of product development to make recommendations on the basis of existing research. If customers repeatedly request a particular product or feature, for example, it may be assigned a high priority. As products move through development and testing, a research manager can offer feedback. This helps the company develop the most effective and appropriate product, down to the color of the packaging, to increase the chances of a successful release.

Numerous employees may work under the direction of the research manager. It is also possible to hire contractors and consultants for specific projects. Typically, organizational and communication skills are useful for careers in this field. People with established reputations and skill sets may be able to advance within a company or seek better positions at other firms on the basis of their strong resumes. Higher ranking employees may be able to access a variety of benefits as they work their way up in the company or pit competing offers against each other.

Research managers supervise the use of laboratory equipment.
Research managers supervise the use of laboratory equipment.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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