Research Associate - Administrative Data, Cape Town - J-PAL Africa

Organization:
J-PAL Africa
Country:
  • South Africa
Education:
  • Master's
  • Other advanced degree
  • Honours
Start Date (Earliest):
Start Date (Latest):
Length of Commitment:
One year

J-PAL Africa seeks a Cape Town based Research Associate to support its mission of reducing poverty by ensuring policy is informed by scientific evidence. We are hiring for a specialised Research Associate role that will involve working collaboratively on large administrative datasets with other researchers, helping to develop and maintain data pipelines for research projects, including using machine learning models to better target subsidies to poor households, and to prepare data to assist in decision-making.

The position holder will be employed by J-PAL Africa, the Africa hub of J-PAL, which is part of the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) in the University of Cape Town (UCT) School of Economics. They will work closely with Dr Kelsey Jack and the City of Cape Town.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) consists of a global network of academics who specialize in conducting randomized evaluations of social policies/programs in order to generate scientific evidence about what works in the fight against poverty.

J-PAL’s research associates work closely with these leading academics and partner organisations (often NGOs and governments) to design and implement these studies. These roles provide excellent opportunities to work at the frontier of rigorous research and evidence-based policymaking, contributing to knowledge that can improve the lives of citizens across Africa and beyond. J-PAL Africa provides the flexibility for accelerated growth and learning by supporting proactivity and encouraging top performers to take on more responsibility. Research associates are given significant project and staff management responsibilities, challenging data analysis tasks and opportunities to find creative solutions to research implementation issues. They are also charged with managing important relationships with study partners (often senior policymakers). Research Associates perform these tasks with support and guidance from peers, managers and the academics who lead the studies, and receive sponsored formal training where required. Our research team culture is rooted in rigorous, careful practices, backed by a system of scientific oversight and a supportive management structure

Responsibilities include

  • Managing and maintaining large administrative datasets on various servers, including maintaining and developing data cleaning, validation, and analysis scripts
  • Maintaining productive relationships with data science team at the City of Cape Town and other stakeholders, including study partners
  • Working with researchers on ongoing studies to identify relevant datasets and getting them research-ready
  • Scoping the feasibility of randomized evaluations and helping to design study implementation methods, e.g. by conducting literature reviews or consulting related literature to inform study design If additional data collection is needed, designing survey instruments and other data collection tools in partnership with academics; coordinating data collection efforts including hiring, training and managing teams of field staff; programming survey instruments, performing high-frequency checks and data cleaning processes to ensure data quality (often in Stata and/or R)
  • Analyzing and presenting data for needs assessments, study design or computation of results (often in Stata and/or R) Assisting in managing finances and donor reporting
  • Ensuring that the project complies with IRB and J-PAL data collection and security protocols with the help of the J-PAL team Training others on research practices and contributing to J-PAL’s global knowledge repositories and external capacity building efforts

Minimum requirements:

  • Honour’s degree in economics, the social sciences, or other Honour’s level degrees involving training in statistics or coursework in quantitative research methods
  • Strong proven quantitative and coding skills, including excellent knowledge of Stata
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English
  • Excellent management and organizational skills, detail-oriented with the ability to work independently and to be supervised remotely
  • Familiarity with randomised evaluations / randomised control trials, econometrics and causal inference
  • Familiarity with managing and analysing large datasets and administrative data
  • Familiarity data security and sharing systems
  • Ability to come up with structured, creative solutions when faced with issue
  • Willingness to learn new technologies and programs
  • Right to work in South Africa (citizenship, permanent residency or critical skills visa). Note: J-PAL Africa cannot sponsor work permits

Highly advantageous:

  • Interest in "big data", machine learning, and data science
  • Comfort/familiarity with Python 3 and/or R Comfort/familiarity working collaboratively with others using version control systems like GitHub, GitLab, &c.
  • Comfort/familiarity with basic computer science concepts, cloud computing and management of very large datasets

How to Apply

Please follow this link and complete the form. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and will likely be required to undergo an assessment process before interview rounds. Recruitment will follow UCT’s hiring procedure and remuneration is commensurate with UCT pay-scales. UCT is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress. Our Employment Equity Policy is available as a .pdf here