Research project managers (PMs) are responsible for leading research projects to satisfy a defined business or scientific objective. To support this goal, research project managers decide on the methodology and techniques for conducting the research, and lead the development of research instruments. They are responsible for reviewing research related fieldwork, validating collected data, authoring reports and communicating across various research constituencies.
Project managers specializing in research possess advanced program and project management skills, strong analytical abilities, and familiarity with research discovery and development processes. They coordinate and facilitate the research project management life cycle, including initiation, development, and implementation of various complex experimentation projects. They are responsible for scoping, coordinating early research activities, identifying research candidates, and managing the completion of investigational forms. Research PMs coordinate study teams, and manage research project timelines, to ensure research trials are completed within the specified timeline.
Research project managers regularly meet with stakeholders, including research constituents, clients and study teams, to collect and communicate business and research requirements, and set expectations for research-related work.
In the context of research management--which typically includes clinical, scientific, experimental, medical and statistical research, among others--project managers select the most appropriate methodology and techniques for facilitating the research. They are responsible for producing qualitative and quantitative research plans, designing research questionnaires and moderator guides. Research project managers work with study teams, and the project and research directors, coordinate fieldwork initiatives, and conduct post-research analyses and evaluations. They use their keen eye for detail to interpret research data, author research reports, and make actionable recommendations to stakeholders.
Research project managers are responsible for the completion of both research and project management deliverables, including project plans and research schedules, competitive intelligence reports, progress reports and investigational applications. They broker collaborative partnerships across various research constituencies, including project heads, research directors, study teams, investigators and external collaborators. At times, research projects managers facilitate or present at research seminars, study groups and conferences.
A bachelor's degree is generally required to qualify for a research project management position. Many employers prefer candidates with advanced academic degrees, such as Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Masters of Science, or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). In addition, five to seven years of direct research experience is required, as well as demonstrated proficiency in project management, including budgeting, planning, execution, delivery, quality assurance, and reporting.
Qualified candidates are proactive problem solvers with superb planning, coordination, and leadership skills. They are able to communicate with stakeholders from diverse functional areas, and can convey complex data in tangible business terms.
The median expected salary for a typical research project manager in the United States is $82,000, as of 2010. According to national income trends from Indeed.com, the average salaries for research project managers are 27 percent higher than average salaries for all job postings nationwide, as of 2010. Factors such as company size, industry, credentials and years of experience, can dramatically affect a research project manager’s salary. Meanwhile, the average salary of jobs with related titles, including research data collector, clinical data manager and executive clinical research director ranges from $26,000 to $132,000.