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Scientist vs. Researcher: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 29, 2023
A scientist is a professional engaged in a systematic study, particularly in the natural sciences, whereas a researcher is anyone who conducts detailed study or investigation in any field.

Key Differences

Scientists are often involved in experimental and theoretical pursuits, primarily in fields like physics, biology, or chemistry. Researchers, on the other hand, can belong to any academic or practical field, including humanities and social sciences.
A scientist typically applies a scientific method for hypothesis testing and discovery in natural sciences. A researcher may use various methodologies, not necessarily scientific, to gather and analyze data in their specific area of study.
Scientists are usually associated with more structured and methodical studies focusing on empirical data and observable phenomena. In contrast, researchers can engage in a broader scope of inquiry, including theoretical and applied research.
The term 'scientist' often implies a higher degree of specialization in a particular scientific field. 'Researcher' is a more general term that can include anyone engaged in detailed investigations, regardless of their academic or professional background.
Scientists often contribute to advancements in technology and scientific understanding, working in laboratories or academic settings. Researchers can be found in a variety of settings, including universities, corporate sectors, and non-profit organizations, working on a wide range of projects.

Comparison Chart

Primary Focus

Systematic study in natural sciences
Detailed study or investigation in any field


Typically uses the scientific method
Employs various methodologies

Fields of Study

Physics, biology, chemistry, etc.
Any academic or practical field

Level of Specialization

High degree of specialization
Can range from general to specialized

Typical Work Environment

Laboratories, academic institutions
Diverse settings including academia, industry, non-profits

Scientist and Researcher Definitions


An expert in a particular branch of science, especially a natural or physical science.
She is a renowned scientist in the field of astrophysics.


Someone who conducts an organized inquiry or investigation to discover new information or reach a new understanding.
The researcher is conducting surveys to understand social trends.


A person skilled in scientific methods and techniques.
The scientist used advanced microscopy techniques in her research.


An individual who studies a subject in detail to discover new information about the world or society.
The researcher's work on ancient civilizations brought new insights.


An individual who makes contributions to scientific knowledge.
The Nobel Prize was awarded to a scientist for his discovery.


A person who carries out academic or scientific research.
The researcher published a paper on economic theories.


A professional engaged in the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world.
The scientist published a groundbreaking study on climate change.


A person who engages in various forms of research, whether academic, scientific, or market research.
The market researcher analyzed consumer behavior patterns.


Someone who conducts scientific research to advance knowledge in an area of interest.
The scientist spent years researching the cure for the disease.


A professional involved in the systematic investigation into materials and sources to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
As a medical researcher, she is exploring new treatments for diseases.


A person who is engaged in and has expert knowledge of a science, especially a biological or physical science.


Careful study of a given subject, field, or problem, undertaken to discover facts or principles.


One whose activities make use of the scientific method to answer questions regarding the measurable universe. A scientist may be involved in original research, or make use of the results of the research of others.


An act or period of such study
Her researches of medieval parish records.


One learned in science; a scientific investigator; one devoted to scientific study; a savant.


To engage in or perform research.


A person with advanced knowledge of one of more sciences


To study (something) thoroughly so as to present in a detailed, accurate manner
Researching the effects of acid rain.


To do research for
Research a magazine article.


One who researches.


One who conducts research. In the field of scientific research, also called an investigator or scientist.


A scientist who devotes himself to doing research


Is a scientist always associated with natural sciences?

Typically, but they can work in interdisciplinary fields too.

Do scientists always conduct experiments?

Mostly, but some focus on theoretical or computational models.

Can a scientist be a researcher?

Yes, all scientists are researchers in their specific fields.

Do all scientists work in labs?

Mostly, but they can also work in the field or theoretical areas.

What is a researcher?

Anyone conducting detailed study or investigation in any field.

Can a historian be a researcher?

Yes, historians are researchers in the field of history.

Is a researcher’s work always scientific?

Not always, it can be in humanities, arts, or other areas.

What is a scientist?

A professional in systematic study, especially in natural sciences.

Can researchers influence policy?

Yes, especially in fields like social science, economics, or environmental studies.

Do all researchers have advanced degrees?

Not necessarily, it depends on the field and type of research.

Do scientists focus on practical applications?

Often, though some are more focused on theoretical understanding.

Can researchers have diverse backgrounds?

Yes, they can come from a wide range of academic and practical fields.

Can a scientist be a generalist?

Rarely, as they usually specialize in specific areas.

Can a researcher work outside academic settings?

Yes, in various industries, governments, or NGOs.

Are scientists always part of an institution?

Mostly, but some work independently or in private sector roles.

Do researchers need to publish their work?

Often, especially in academic and scientific communities.

Do scientists only work in research and development?

Mainly, but they also teach, consult, and engage in public outreach.

Are scientists and researchers always academics?

Not always, many work in industry, government, or non-academic sectors.

Are all researchers in universities?

No, they can be in various organizations or self-employed.

How do researchers gather data?

Through experiments, surveys, fieldwork, archival research, and other methods.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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