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I worked on a project as a graduate student in a research group in order to complete the credit points (20 ECTS Germany) required for my Master's degree. I was not employed on a contract i.e. not paid for the work because it was for completing the credit points for my Master's degree. Now I want to include the work as a research experience on my CV (for application to a PhD program) but I am unsure whether I can name the title of the experience as "Research Assistant" or not.

I do not know what technical title I should give this job.

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I would suggest that you not claim any title that wasn't assigned by others. You can give a description of what you did or suggest that the work was "similar to GRA" but that is different from saying that you actually had the title. Your only official "title" was student, I think.

While what you say might be accurate in some sense, the problem is that someone seeing official documentation and not finding you listed with a title you claim, all start to wonder why and even thing you have given a fraudulent answer. While that isn't your intent, you don't want to open the possibility of such an accusation.

I suspect that in Germany it is especially important to be accurate about titles, though that may be changing.

But, for a CV, have a section on experience with a very brief explanation and a phrase "similar to ..." that gives the person the right idea about your duties, but not claiming a title.

You could also, in a mail or email, ask the institute what you can call yourself on your CV. But I'd suggest that you want the answer in writing and from someone official if it isn't a formal position you held. Then there can be no question of your intent.

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This will vary a lot by location and job type. You should certainly follow local customs (i.e., Germans may be pickier about titles than Americans). The below has my Western (i.e., US) bias.

In universities, you can assume the hirer will understand the subtle distinctions between contract type, so it's best to be accurate and describe exactly what you did. I don't see a problem using the phrase "research assistant" if you were an assistant who did research, but directly below that, I would give the name of the program / contract type so that the reviewer understands exactly what you did and can't accuse you of misrepresenting anything.

Outside of universities, the hirer (particularly first-line resume screeners) will not know or care what you are talking about. If you were an assistant doing research, you should definitely use that title rather than a "technically correct" title that could be misinterpreted (e.g., if an industry recruiter sees "student", they will assume you are in a classroom taking tests and discount your resume accordingly). Listing the exact program might still be a good idea, but it is essential to concisely explain what you did. You could even say something like "Research Asst. (X program), Univ. of Y"; this is both accurate and concise.

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