Contract research

Many pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies do not have the capacity to undertake all the research functions that they require within their own organisations.

They may have to look elsewhere and outsource for scientific research expertise, support and facilities; this is where contract research organisations (CROs) come in. CROs provide research support services to client companies in industry either on a project or contract basis.

As more companies outsource various aspects of their drug development and clinical trials processes to improve efficiency and save money, so opportunities for scientists in contract research organisations have grown. CROs offer postgraduate research scientists wanting to work in a non-academic scientific environment an alternative to working for a large pharma company.

Thinking about the type of work environment and pace that might suit you can help you to weigh up whether working for a CRO is an appealing option. Compared to working in academia or in a large pharmaceutical company, working for a CRO means having less control over the research that you undertake as all major decision-making is done by the client company.  However, if you like variety in your work then you could fit well in a CRO as it is the norm to work on different projects with a range of pharma, biotech and academic clients in rapid succession.

Rather than being accountable to a line manager as in industry, in a CRO you are accountable to your clients. Consequently, work within a CRO has a focus on transparency, speed and efficiency, as customer service and the satisfaction of the client company are paramount.

As well as research roles, larger CROs may also have opportunities available in product marketing and sales, consulting and other areas.

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