What is a Rancher Research Assistant?

Research assistants are members of the Rancher Writing Program.

Research assistants help accelerate the process of producing high quality articles by conducting technical research on interesting topics like Kubernetes, CI/CD, cloud-native application development, and more. After agreeing on a subject, research assistants conduct research, compile notes, and create a detailed article outline. Afterwards, a Rancher writer will use the compiled information to create technical articles for the Rancher community.

If you prefer to write articles in addition to research, consider the writing role instead. Rancher compensates research assistants on a per-project basis.

For those already familiar with the research assistant role, here are a few links you might need to reference again:

If you’ve never worked as a research assistant before, please continue reading for additional information.

What is the Process?

We use the following workflow to align expectations and produce great content.

Application

If this is your first time working on content with Rancher, your first step will be to apply to the program. If we’ve contacted you about working as a research assistant, you do not need to apply.

To submit an application, email content@rancher.com with the subject line Research assistant application. Include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your background with containers, DevOps, Kubernetes, and related technology
  • Links to blog posts or other technical projects you have worked worked on in the past
  • A list of topics or subjects you’re be interested in

We can only evaluate applications based on the information you submit, so be sure to include as much detail as you can.

We will review your application as soon as possible and reach out to let you know if we think you might be a good fit.

Topic Discovery and Project Scoping

Once you’ve been accepted into the research assistant program, the next step is to work with Rancher staff to come up with an appropriate topic and determine the project scope and deliverables.

This stage of the process involves:

  • Deciding on a topic to research
  • Determining project scope
  • Agreeing on deliverables, due date, and compensation
  • Signing a contract

If you have ideas for articles that you would like to research, let your Rancher contact know so they can verify that it is a good fit for the library and isn’t currently being worked on by somebody else. Take a look at the Rancher content library to get a sense of the topics that are already available. Your contact may also provide you with a list of topics to choose from.

After agreeing on a topic, share a brief outline of what you think the article should cover to ensure that both sides agree on the appropriate scope for the project. Once the outline is approved, we’ll discuss the terms of the agreement and send over a contract for you to sign.

Independent Research and Asset Creation

Once you agree to the terms, you can begin conducting research. Keep the project scope and the following deliverables in mind as you work. Start with the article research template to build out a research document that covers the following areas:

  • Detailed article description: This should restart the project’s goal, scope, etc. This should answer what the article will be about, who would be interested in reading it, what they will learn, and what they will end up with.
  • Article requirements: List the prerequisites that a user would need to fulfill to complete the article. This should outline technology requirements (three servers), accounts (Docker Hub account), configuration (a non-root user on each server), and any knowledge the user should be familiar with to successfully follow along.
  • Detailed outline / article scaffolding: Fill out the article outline you created earlier with detailed information about what will be covered in each section. Section should include the following information:
    • Bullets describing the process, any trade offs you made, and your rationale for choosing this over alternatives, etc: Include explanations for why as well as how. Do not copy explanations from other sources.
    • Complete command history and output: Your Rancher contact should be able to start with the provided “article requirements” and successfully complete the procedure using only your commands and instructions.
    • Screenshots, supporting images, or recommendations for internally created assets.
    • Links to sources you used: This helps us validate the accuracy of the information and ensure that we are following best practices.

Take a look at the sample outline for research assistants to understand the level of detail and structure required:

Submit the written material as a single plain-text document formatted in Markdown and remember to attach any reference images or screenshots.

Submission and Payment

Once you’ve created the above research assets, submit them to your contact for review. We evaluate submissions by looking for the following qualities:

  • Faithfulness to the project plan
  • Accuracy of information
  • Clarity of the notes
  • Completeness of the implementation

Your contact will let you know if your submission needs additional work any of the above areas. After satisfying the requirements, payment will be issued and you can discuss additional projects with your contact.

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