career repository

Career in Research and Development

By on March 7, 2017

Career in Research and Development

Are you sure you want to be a research scientist. That’s great, but if you are not entirely sure and want to delve a little deeper into the life of a science professional, just read on. It’s true that not every science subject do not ends up as a pure research institution or in the for-profit research labs of industry. However, the dream of every serious student of the pure sciences is to be in research, which is what we will concentrate on here.

Being a research scientist requires a specific temperament as it takes years of work before a result is obtained in whatever line of research you may be. But the highs that come from the occasional triumphs, from working with a highly academic, highly intellectual group of people, from always working towards something that you believe will be earth shattering in its impact, can make up for all of your disappointments.

The world would never progress without research and development scientists. The scientific innovation would be non-existent, there will be no exciting technological advances, we would still be using Atari computers, people would suffer as medicines wouldn’t have progressed since the Middle Ages etc. Finding practical solutions to challenging industrial problems is a job of an researcher working in industry. The research scientist spend their day working alongside other scientists, conducting tests and experiments and carrying out other projects. They record results and then presenting their findings to senior staff members, clients and other professionals. The scientists are also involved in the development of prototypes or samples, which will be tweaked, revised, refined and then eventually produced on a larger scale.

What you will be doing in this profession?

Many of us remain worried, if one becomes scientist what they do? Where they work? Remember the excitement that the first transparent toothpaste to be made in India generated way back in the 1970s? The man whose work largely enabled launching of Close-Up four decades ago still finds the same excitement in his work that existed then. The responsibility of a research and development scientist will vary depending on the

specific area of science they work in. However, the basic principles and processes of research and development are similar across all areas. 

Every area of academic and applied science requires professional research and development scientists, from pharmaceuticals and physics to defense and biotechnology. Many high-caliber scientists have moved out

of the lab into development departments in factories, higher up to heading technical functions and then even into the management. The Research and development department is present in every industry where there is a product to be developed and sold. But if the term ‘Research’ is used independently (without ‘Development’) it may sometimes be used for firms which conducts researches on markets, financials, business models etc.

To be specific, Research and Development is structured to support the key innovation areas: Discover and delivers functional benefits through new product technology, Design that means creates winning products, packages and claims and implements mixes for local markets.

A research and development profession allows graduate engineers to apply knowledge and skills to ignite new innovation and push the frontiers of science forward. In manufacturing sector Research-and- Development (R and D) is synonymous with Product Development or Engineering.

In Pharmaceuticals, scientific research goes into molecules for creating a drug.

Physicists: Everything in the universe has some effect or the other on every other thing. Everything on earth, everything in our solar system, everything in our galaxy, moves and even exists because of various forces- physicists study these forces, study how different forces interact with each other, and study what effects these forces and their interactions have on everything in the world.

Medical physicists always look after the technical aspects of treating patients using radiation equipment. The working modalities generally includes managing the equipment used, performing quality assessments and monitoring radiation output, treatment planning and the development of new techniques.

Geophysicists study the structure and behaviour of the Earth, including oil and gas deposits, earthquakes, fault lines and volcanoes.

Genetic engineers rearrange the gene structure by manipulation techniques such as rearrangement, alteration and splicing (a process whereby one DNA molecule or fragment can be attached to another).

Although Food technologists research and develop new food and beverage products, bringing improvement in the quality of existing products may be the major work one does. They are also required to develop or improve the processing, packaging, storage, and safety of food in line with government and industry standards.

Marine biologists study plants and animals that live in sea water, and their relationships with each other and their environment.

Microbiologists usually study organisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae or fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals and humans. They also develop products and procedures to benefit humans or the environment.

As a botanist you may in the botanical research to increase and improve our supply of medicines, foods, fibers, building materials, and other plant products.

Biochemists and molecular biologists develop techniques to be used in producing rare drugs, trace the path of evolution, create instant tests for a host of illnesses, warn people when their offspring might inherit a deadly disease, and even identify criminals. If cancer is to be cured, if the planet’s pollution is to be cleaned up or if the aging process is ever slowed, it will probably be the biochemists and molecular biologists who will provide the knowledge for these breakthroughs.

Biotechnologists use their knowledge of living organisms to create new animal or plant-based products such as pest-resistant crops and pharmaceuticals.  

Chemists study the make-up and behaviour of chemicals, and may use their findings to develop new products and processes.

Forensic scientists apply scientific knowledge and skills to investigating crimes. Some forensic scientists do research into developing or improving forensic techniques.

In manufacturing sector Research-and- Development (R&D) is synonymous with Product Development or Engineering.

In Pharmaceuticals, scientific research goes into molecules for creating a drug.

Career path or educational Route

To do well in research and development one needs comprehensive knowledge and training in the related scientific or engineering stream. A master degree in engineering, Medicine or science is a minimum requirement and in many cases any other graduate qualification covering the relevant area of research and specialization is generally considered an ideal qualification. The PhDs and post-doctoral candidates are high on demand. Remember a premier institute matters!

A Science Degree - with good grades or percentage

PhD: Independent and original research project supported by a supervisor and lasting about 3 or more years.

May get in to a post-doctoral research, typically lasting two to three years. Writing research papers, presenting findings at meetings and working more independently Or you may select to be a lecturer or group leader and manage a research team.

Career Scope & Job Prospects

Get in early if you want to have a career in R&D and think long term, as you will part of the journey ofinnovative, effective and sustainable products. The avenues are endless if you thought Research and developmentin science or engineering as your career-choice. You may choose Biotechnology, manufacturing,pharmaceutical industry or software field, There are more than 300 MNCs including IBM, Microsoft, HCL,GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis are setting up their research and development facilities in metros like Bangaloreand Mumbai. You may choose also organization like DRDO- Defense Research & Development Organization,

ISRO- Indian Space Research organization, NAL- National Aerospace Laboratories, BEL- Bharat Electronics Limited, BARC- Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Delhi, National Brain Research Centre, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Institute of Clinical Research in India, Indian Council of Medical Research, Indian Council of Agriculture Research , Institute of Bio- resources and Sustainable Development and many more....

You may consider the Groups advanced Research and Development centres to avail the competitive edge to meet emerging challenges. The Group’s research programme comprises programmes funded by the separate business units and work on a number of identified thrust areas that receive corporate funding. The thrust areas also incorporate the projects that were previously a part of the strategic programme of Tata Steel in Europe. Currently, the Tata Steel Group has five research centres with over 1000 people involving themselves in R & D activities.

Jamshedpur R and D Centre (India): This was established in 1937 and is one of the oldest industrial R and D centres in the country. This Centre has played a critical role in the development of steel products and process routes that have given the Company a competitive advantage in local and global markets. 

 Ijmuiden Technology Centre (the Netherlands): Focuses predominantly on process and product research for strip products and its application in the automotive and packaging sectors.

Swinden Technology Centre (United Kingdom): This Centre of Tata Steel in Rotherham focuses primarily on product research and applications research for the transport, building and construction sectors.

 Automotive Engineering Group (United Kingdom): The key focus is on cost-effective light weighting, to keep steel positioned as the automotive material of choice in the transition to a low carbon economy. It services the automotive, construction, materials handling and defence market sectors.

Many researchers choose to live and work outside India. Before going to the country of your choice many important questions have to be answered: “Where can I find open PhD or research positions?”, “Do I need a work permit?”, “What are the funding options?”.

Best of Luck.

About - Itishree Misra

Dr. Itishree Misra is a Clinical Psychologist and a Career Counselor. She has close to 2 decades of experience in academia and industry. Dr. Misra has been recognized widely for her work in the field for education and psychometrics. She can be reached at