Research Associate - MPSQA Project

Language Requirement 
Length of Commitment 
Two years
Start Date 
June 01, 2017

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) seeks qualified applicants for positions as Research Associates for projects on agriculture, education, environment, finance, health, labor, and governance in locations around the world. The projects study a variety of topics within the previously listed fields. The positions offer an opportunity to gain first-hand field management experience in an organization undertaking cutting-edge development research.

These positions are located primarily in developing countries around the world and the principal investigators are J-PAL affiliated professors.

Research Associates work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety tasks including, but not limited to: designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot exercises, refining study design and surveying instruments, managing survey teams, negotiating contracts with survey firms, checking and analyzing data, cleaning data and assisting in preliminary analysis, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memoranda, and coordinating with local partners running the programs being evaluated.

Project Description:

We are conducting a randomized evaluation of one of the most ambitious recent attempts by a developing country government to improve education governance at scale. The Madhya Pradesh (MP) School Quality Assessment Program (MPSQA) – officially called the MP Shaala Siddhi program – is a comprehensive attempt to improve school governance in the Indian state of MP, and is being implemented in partnership between the Government of MP (GoMP), the British DFID, and Ark India, a non-profit education services provider. This evaluation for the first year of the program, in ten districts in Bhopal and Indore region of MP, was launched in the academic year 2016-2017. In the academic year 2017-2018 we aim to continue evaluation of the potential mid-term effect of the program.

The program is targeted towards improvements in school management processes along several dimensions and is inspired by assessments and feedback delivered by international assessment regimes, but extensively adapted to be administrable in the specific context of the MP education system. In  particular, it focuses on enabling continuous  improvement within  the school education system by providing management inputs which center around detailed school assessments and customized diagnostic feedback.

The evaluation sample includes 534 schools over ten districts.

This post is part of an ambitious multi-year research agenda of the PIs on the improvement of education systems spanning multiple states over 6 years, funded by the UK Department of International Development under the Research in Improving Systems of Education (RISE) program and the ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems program. As such, there will be substantial interaction and cross-fertilization of practices across projects under this agenda.

Research Associate Roles and Responsibilities:

The RA will work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot exercises, refining study design and surveying instruments
  • Managing teams: Recruit, train, and supervise both field-based and data operations teams consisting of project assistants, field managers, field-based surveyors, data entry operators and other field and office staff
  • Oversee the implementation of the evaluation in accordance to the research design in association with our partner organizations
  • Maintain relationships with partner organizations at both headquarters and field levels
  • Supervise data collection and data-entry and ensure the good quality of the data at each of these two stages
  • Assist with data cleaning and preliminary data analysis
  • Assist in preparation of documents and presentations for dissemination
  • Report to PIs on all of the above mentioned activities

Desired Qualifications and Experience:

  • A Master's degree in Economics, Education, or related fields
  • Experience living in a developing country is a strong plus
  • Excellent management and organizational skills along with strong quantitative skills
  • Fluency and excellent communication skills in Hindi and English
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and team player
  • Demonstrated ability to manage high-level relationships with partner organizations
  • Knowledge of data analysis in Stata
  • Familiarity with impact evaluations and randomized controlled trials in particular preferred
  • Willingness to live in Madhya Pradesh and travel extensively to study areas is essential

We are looking for a commitment period of 14 months for this position.

Note on Work Authorizations:

Candidates must have work authorization to work in India.

How to Apply

Complete the J-PAL/IPA Common Application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “Research Associate - MPSQA Project”. Applications require you to include two letters of recommendation, statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts.