Guide To Writing a Research Assistant Cover Letter

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Writing an effective cover letter can help an aspiring research assistant increase their chances of receiving an interview date. This document can show hiring managers that a job candidate has the qualifications to perform well in this position. By reviewing how to write an effective cover letter for a research assistant, you can choose strategies to help you succeed during your next application process. In this article, we explain what a research assistant cover letter is, list the steps for writing one and provide both a template and example you can use for your writing process.

What is a research assistant cover letter?

A research assistant cover letter is typically a one-page document that describes an individual's professional experience, educational background and skill set for a job position in a university or organisation. It allows candidates to expand on the information they provided in their CV. This type of cover letter also gives candidates an opportunity to explain their specific research activities, differentiating them from other candidates with similar work histories.

Related: What Is a Cover Letter? (With Template and Example)

How to write a cover letter for a research assistant position

Follow these steps to write an effective cover letter for a research assistant position:

1. Research the institution

After finding an available position, examine the company's website to learn key information about its research objectives. It's often helpful to understand basic information about a company's work environment from the institution's perspective, as you can identify aspects to focus on while composing your cover letter. You might also learn about their value system and the research interests of current staff members, which can offer more insight on information to highlight in your letter.

2. Review the job description

Read the job description to determine which job responsibilities, characteristics and skills to highlight. Hiring managers may appreciate when information in a cover letter corresponds to their list of preferred qualifications. It may be helpful to use keywords from the description to better align your content. For example, if hiring managers use a certain academic or industry term to discuss a research project, consider including the exact phrase.

3. Structure your cover letter

Format your cover letter using clear language and well-structured paragraphs. It's often helpful to write a maximum of three paragraphs or 300 words, as this approach can help you provide more precise details. By formatting a cover letter effectively, you can also demonstrate your written communication skills, which research teams often value. Be mindful to use a formal tone in your letter to enhance your professional image.

Here are some individual elements you can include:

  • formal greeting

  • introductory statement

  • career goals

  • examples of qualifications

  • closing statement

  • professional signature

Related: Top 3 Cover Letter Templates (Plus How To Impress a Recruiter)

4. Add contact information

Provide your own contact information, including your first and last name, phone number and email. Then, add the first and last name of the hiring manager or the team's lead researcher and their formal job title. Next, it's important to include the institution's full address to ensure it reaches the correct recipient. If you address the letter using a generic name, it may be helpful to use Lead Researcher or a similar term to enhance the document's clarity.

Read more: A Guide on Addressing a Cover Letter Appropriately

5. Compose an introductory paragraph

Include the current date and a formal salutation like Dear Lead Researcher. Then, introduce yourself formally and describe how you found out about the position. Next, you can describe your education and research background, career goals and motivations for applying for the job. In the final two sentences, it may be helpful to explain why you're qualified for a specific role, including your key characteristics and how your research skills can help you support a team.

Related: 7 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)

6. Include your research experiences and skills

To develop your second paragraph, review your most significant job responsibilities listed in your CV document and your top skills. Then, choose specific situations from a previous job position or an academic class that allow you to illustrate these items in more detail. It may be helpful to describe how your actions as an assistant helped a research team complete tasks and achieve their goals. Be mindful to include both your scientific expertise and knowledge of research tools.

Here are some examples of skills you can highlight in a cover letter:

  • research study design

  • data collection

  • data entry

  • statistical analysis

  • organisation

  • collaboration and teamwork

  • knowledge of English and Cantonese

7. Provide examples of your accomplishments

In the second paragraph, consider adding details about your previous achievements as a research assistant. Some examples may include a contribution to a publication or efforts to improve your research methodology for the team. It's often helpful to use language that conveys enthusiasm for these endeavours, as research teams often appreciate professionals who are dedicated to the scientific field. You can either include your accomplishments in one to two sentences or bulleted points.

8. Close your letter

In your final paragraph, summarise the key points of your cover letter and reiterate your interest in joining a team. It's often helpful to express gratitude for a hiring manager's consideration, as this action may further demonstrate your professionalism. To close the letter, include a formal letter closing like Sincerely or Best regards and sign your full name.

Cover letter template for research assistant

Here's a template you can use while writing your own cover letter for a research assistant:

[Your name]
[Your location]
[Your phone number]
[Your email]

[Date]

[Name of hiring manager or lead researcher]
[Recipient's job title]
[Street address]

[Formal salutation],

My name is [full name] and I'm writing this letter in response to your advertisement for the [title of the position] at [name of institution]. Having earned a [title of your most recent degree] and worked as a [your previous job title] at [your previous institution], I believe I am a strong candidate for this job position. I plan to study [topic] throughout my career, as I have a strong interest in [details about the topic]. My [characteristics] and [skill sets] can help me become a valuable asset to this research team.

In my previous position, I learned how to [an example of your job responsibilities or academic research experience]. I used my skills to [second example of your job responsibilities or academic research experience]. I also accomplished [your top achievements as a research assistant.]

To conclude, I believe I would be a valuable addition to [name of the department] at [name of institution]. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to learning about the next steps of the application process.

Sincerely,
[Your full name]

Example cover letter for research assistant

Here's an example of a cover letter for a research assistant using the above template:

Arthur Zhang
100 Cameron Road,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
5555 5555
azhang@email.com

September 20, 2021

Dr Wendy Lau, M.S.Sc.
Lead researcher, clinical psychology
Central University
123 Shanghai Street
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Dear Dr Lau,

My name is Arthur Zhang and I'm writing this letter in response to your advertisement for the position of Research Assistant III at Central University. Having earned a Bachelor of Science in clinical psychology and worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Grand University last summer, I believe I am a strong candidate for this job position. I plan to study cognitive neuroscience throughout my career, as I have a strong interest in studying working memory development. My dedication to science and data collection skills can help me become a valuable asset to this research team.

In my previous position, I learned how to design an experiment, including how to conduct an elaborate research process and prepare questionnaires for test subjects. My supervisors instructed me to organise materials for each test session and to take detailed notes, which helped the team produce a comprehensive analysis during the next phase. I used my administrative skills to enter key data into our internal system, manage the database during the process and prepare reports. While working at Grand University, I also streamlined our assessment procedure by 10% and received acknowledgement in three publications.

To conclude, I believe I would be a valuable addition to the Clinical Psychology department at Central University. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to learning about the next steps of the application process.

Sincerely,

Arthur Zhang

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