Research beyond academia

Universities aren’t the only places in which research happens.

If you enjoy putting your research skills into action, producing research reports and solving research problems, there are lots of other types of organisations where you can find interesting research posts.

Research roles outside of academia cover a broad range of areas, including social research, behvaioural research, market research, and user (UX) research.

To identify potential employers, start by thinking of organisations and institutions linked to your specific or broader subject areas that have a significant research function, or that work with communicating research to the public and other audiences. This could include: 

Differences from academic research

When considering research jobs in sectors beyond academia, it can be useful to think about the following differences from academic research:

  • You may work on a wider variety of simultaneous research projects rather than going into fine detail in one particular area
  • Deadlines may be tighter, with clients expecting a quick turnaround on projects
  • Research is likely to be focused on practical application rather than on theoretical or blue-sky thinking
  • You may have less control over the subject of your research than in academia; for example, you may be working on research projects set by client organisations
  • You may have much less responsibility for winning the funding for the research yourself

Not all research jobs beyond academia will specifically ask for a PhD as an essential requirement; many roles will be open to graduates of all levels. Effectively articulating the relevance of your PhD and your skills to the advertised role can help you to stand out over others.

Examples of research career routes beyond academia


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