I have two experiences to share:
1) I have been involved in research as a doctoral student. I was lucky to work in a large, multidisciplinary team and to be given the opportunity to work a lot in the field (Zambia, in my case). The research work has been incredibly stimulating and innovative but at the same time challenging and confusing. While my advisors did a great job, PhD research is at times a lonesome job and it require a lot of dedication, long hours, and the need to learn new tools, methods, software and approaches. It is tough but extremely rewarding.
2) I have worked in the country management of a large research organization specializing in quantitative field research. In such a job one is one notch removed from academia yet close enough to be in a position to provide advise on research design, data quality and analysis and also co-publish research. Instead of focusing on one or a few topics only, as in example 1, this type of job requires to work on a large number of different research pieces and topics, on a different level of depth. It is a great platform to learn about the latest research in various fields and get to collaborate with lead researchers globally. It also entails a lot of financial and people management, that I have always considered as a big plus but can deter a little people who want to focus on the details of research.
I hope this helps,