Research, Policy and Projects Officer (Centre for the Study of African Economies)

Organization:
Location:
  • United Kingdom
Education:
  • Master's
Start Date (Earliest):
Length of Commitment:
Two years

The Blavatnik School of Government is seeking to appoint a Research, Policy and Projects Officer to provide research and administrative support for the Mind and Behaviour Research  Group (MBRG) – part of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE).  

This position is for an ambitious, innovative early career researcher looking to gain hands on experience in research production, management and policy advice in development economics. Most Research Assistants and past post-holders go on to doctoral work in economics, although some have gone to management posts in NGOs or donors. It is ideal for someone with experience as a Research Assistant looking to stretch and extend their experience. It provides excellent exposure for the applicant’s future career by giving an opportunity to demonstrate they can do many of the activities required to run their own research projects, including oversight of a large grant portfolio. and project and team management.  

At the Blavatnik School, we are a team of development economists: PIs Kate Orkin, Stefan Dercon and Lukas Hensel (Visiting Fellow at CSAE) and a fantastic group of Research Assistants. Current research projects are with collaborators Rob Garlick (Duke), Johannes Haushofer (Princeton), Mahreen Mahmud (Exeter), Nate Barker (Chicago), Matt Ridley (Berkeley/Warwick), Michael Walker (Berkeley) and Marc Witte (IZA). Our current research work is in three streams: frictions in urban developing country labour markets that prevent young people finding work and interventions that can reduce these frictions; the role of mental health in labour market decisions and how treatments for mental health improve labour market outcomes; and the design of cash transfer and wage subsidy programmes. We run two large field sites in Nairobi and Johannesburg with survey and implementing partners. We also provide policy advice to governments and our advice has supported scale up of national cash grant, wage subsidy and labour market programmes to millions of beneficiaries.  

The postholder will conduct quantitative research and contribute to several projects in the MBRG portfolio with upcoming field activities; lead the group’s policy and outreach activities, which include policy advisory work and disseminating the group’s research findings to policymakers and implementation organisations; and be responsible for some lab and project management activities related to the research portfolio. The management and administrative responsibilities of the role make up approximately 25% of the role and the postholder will work closely with the CSAE support team (based largely in the Department of Economics) and Blavatnik School’s administrative teams.  

A successful candidate will have the ability to carry out independent quantitative research, excellent skills in statistics/econometrics and a demonstrated ability to take responsibility for driving new projects to completion. They should hold excellent team working, communication and organisational skills, with a keen eye for detail. A Master’s degree in economics, public policy or development studies with a quantitative focus, along with an interest in development economics, is essential. 

Personal and career development is key to our team’s culture: the successful candidate will benefit from mentorship, peer-to-peer training, and opportunities to engage in tasks based on interests and training needs. Team-mindedness is another priority. We have an open culture for discussing ideas and raising issues. Work assignment is non-hierarchical: all team members engage in the full spectrum of tasks, from the day-to-day to complex and big-picture research.  

The title of Research, Policy and Projects Manager may be awarded to a postholder with appropriate experience. 

Responsibilities  

  • Quantitative research on specific research projects, including desk-based research and designing and managing fieldwork activities with support from senior and junior colleagues (approx. 50% of the role). 
    • Conduct research and administrative tasks for new and continuing research projects, with support and guidance from the Principal Investigator; 
    • Conduct and present original quantitative data analysis, and checks on existing code and analysis conducted for the project; 
    • Set up systems for Research Assistants to manage data and organise project documentation; 
    • Contribute to research publications, book chapters and reviews; 
    • Design, manage, and oversee fieldwork activities. This includes: 
    • Conduct tasks to develop research questions, such as: literature reviews, power calculations; analysis of qualitative or administrative data; 
    • Support development and coding of questionnaires and interventions; iii. Set up data collection and management systems to ensure data quality; iv. Build and maintain relationships with implementing partners and fieldwork firms; 
    • Supervise collection of cost data and conduct cost-effectiveness analyses; • Maintaining existing lab systems for data management to ensure reproducibility of findings and transfer of knowledge between projects. 
  • Lead outreach and dissemination activities with support from the team to maximise the impact of the team’s research findings (approx. 25% of the role)
  • Produce policy advice to governments based on the team’s research expertise (mainly in South Africa and Kenya, mainly on cash grants and active labour market programmes); 
    • Write up research findings in accessible forms so policy-makers can access them, including producing blogs, podcasts or twitter threads; 
    • Lead the development of materials that enable successful policy interventions to be scaled; 
  • Support the management and administration of the research and projects portfolio of the MBRG (approx. 25% of the role). This is invaluable experience for future work as a PI and includes:  
    • Maintaining donor relationships, including managing process of grant reporting, preparing donor financial reports and funder updates, with support from the 
  • CSAE and School teams; 
    • With input from the School’s Finance team, overseeing the MBRG’s research grants portfolio. This includes tracking incomes and expenditures, reporting on overall budget to PIs in monthly meetings, and producing financial forecasts;  
    • Developing budgets and activity plans and monitoring spending with fieldwork partners. 
    • Working with the School’s Research Support team and central Research Services team on project contracting and IRB applications; 
    • In collaboration with the relevant HR teams (Economics/Blavatnik School);
      • Organising recruitment and on-boarding for new staff; 
      • Organising training for Research Assistants; 
      • Organising informal mentoring system and feedback systems; 
  • Provide line management support, mentorship, and training for Research Assistants. You should be based in Oxford for the duration of the two-year contract and be able to travel to field sites.  

Selection criteria  

Essential selection criteria 

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in economics, public policy, or development studies with a quantitative focus; 
  • Ability to carry out independent quantitative research, including excellent skills in statistics/econometrics and strong writing skills;  
  • Demonstrated ability and willingness to take responsibility for driving projects to completion (including having scoped, managed and delivered projects before, even if on a voluntary basis or as part of student activities) and maintain momentum; 
  • Demonstrable team working and people management skills with a flexible can-do approach, self-motivation, resilience and a willingness to adapt to changing team needs and priorities; 
  • Excellent organisational skills with attention to detail and accuracy; • Ability to interpret, apply and communicate regulations and procedures; • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to synthesise complex issues for a non-expert audience; 
  • An interest in both academic development economics and applications of development economics in policy contexts.  

Desirable selection criteria 

  • Previous experience in working on or supporting lab and/or field experiments; • Previous experience working or living in developing countries; 
  • Experience in grant management, such as contributions to funding proposals and grant reports; 
  • Experience in budgeting and monitoring of expenditures with third party suppliers; • Experience in project and team management.

Pre-employment screening 

Standard checks 

If you are offered the post, the offer will be subject to standard pre-employment checks. You will be asked to provide: proof of your right-to-work in the UK; proof of your identity; and (if we haven’t done so already) we will contact the referees you have nominated. You will also be asked to complete a health declaration so that you can tell us about any health conditions or disabilities for which you may need us to make appropriate adjustments. Please read the candidate notes on the University’s pre-employment screening procedures at: https://www.jobs.ox.ac.uk/pre-employment-checks  

Hazard-specific / Safety-critical duties 

This job includes hazards or safety-critical activities. If you are offered the post, you will be asked to complete a health questionnaire which will be assessed by our Occupational Health Service, and the offer of employment will be subject a successful outcome of this assessment.  

The hazards or safety-critical duties involved are as follows: 

  • Travel outside of Europe or North America on University Business

About the University of Oxford  

Welcome to the University of Oxford. We aim to lead the world in research and education for the benefit of society both in the UK and globally. Oxford’s researchers engage with academic, commercial and cultural partners across the world to stimulate high-quality research and enable innovation through a broad range of social, policy and economic impacts. 

We believe our strengths lie both in empowering individuals and teams to address fundamental questions of global significance, while providing all our staff with a welcoming and inclusive workplace that enables everyone to develop and do their best work. Recognising that diversity is our strength, vital for innovation and creativity, we aspire to build a truly diverse community which values and respects every individual’s unique contribution. 

While we have long traditions of scholarship, we are also forward-looking, creative and cutting-edge. Oxford is one of Europe's most entrepreneurial universities and we rank first in the UK for university spin-outs, and in recent years we have spun out 15-20 new companies every year. We are also recognised as leaders in support for social enterprise.  

Join us and you will find a unique, democratic and international community, a great range of staff benefits and access to a vibrant array of cultural activities in the beautiful city of Oxford.  

For more information, please visit www.ox.ac.uk/about/organisation. 

The Blavatnik School of Government 

Our vision is of a world better led, a world better served and a world better governed. We are a global school committed to improving the quality of government and public policymaking worldwide, through three routes: teaching current and future leaders; applied research; and engagement with government and practitioners. 

The School was founded in 2010 and our founding dean is Professor Ngaire Woods. We admitted the first 38 Master of Public Policy (MPP) students in 2012 and we currently accept around 120 MPP students and five doctoral students a year.  

The Blavatnik School of Government holds a bronze Athena Swan award to recognise the advancement of gender equality: representation, progression and success for all. You can find more information on the Blavatnik School of Government’s website. 

How to Apply

Applications are made through our online recruitment portal. Information about how to apply is available on our Jobs website https://www.jobs.ox.ac.uk/how-to-apply.  

Your application will be judged solely on the basis of how you demonstrate that you meet the selection criteria stated in the job description.  

As part of your application you will be asked to provide details of two referees and indicate whether we can contact them now.  

You will be asked to upload the following documents:  

  • An up-to-date CV; 
  • A copy of your Master’s transcript, detailing the quantitative analysis and econometrics modules undertaken;  
  • A supporting statement (1-2 pages).  

The supporting statement must explain how you meet each of the selection criteria for the post using examples of your skills and experience. This may include experience gained in employment, education, or during career breaks (such as time out to care for dependants)