Jobs and Opportunity Initiative (JOI) African Scholars opportunities
JOI is invested in creating more opportunities for African scholars to develop and drive the research agenda on the African continent.
We are excited to present funding opportunities for resident African Scholars – those who have completed a PhD in economics or a related field and are based in an academic institution in sub-Saharan Africa.
Remember to register for the African Scholars database for matchmaking, MicroMasters scholarships and to be added to our mailing lists.
Research Funding Opportunities
JOI is excited to offer research funding to resident African Scholars.
Resident African Scholars include those who have completed a PhD and are based in an academic institution in sub-Saharan Africa. African scholars must be based in sub-Saharan Africa, with a preference for Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal.
Resident African Scholars are eligible to apply for Proposal Development Grants (up to US$10,000) and Pilot Grants (up to US$75,000). Full RCT funding eligibility is extended to African Scholars who have successfully completed a pilot funded by J-PAL (up to US$400,000). For additional funding details, please see our RFP web page. Targeted mentorship will be provided to African Scholars who receive funds from the Initiative.
Targeted mentorship will be provided to African Scholars who receive funds from the Initiative. Mentors will advise the Scholar throughout the project. Mentors can include any J-PAL affiliate, an invited researcher, or the Research Advisor at J-PAL Africa. African Scholars may either identify an eligible mentor before submitting a proposal or will be linked through the Initiative after their proposal has been selected by the JOI board.
African Scholars are required to submit an informal email or letter from their mentor prior to the disbursement of funds. This email or letter will provide a framework for how the Scholar and mentor will work together throughout the project. Scholars who are matched to a new mentor will be expected to have a phone call with the mentor before completing this email or letter.
The publication track record of the African Scholar will be considered during the grant-making process. Selection will also include how well the mentor and mentee know each other (i.e. past research experience and length of existing relationship), as well as the amount of time the mentee has committed to the project. See the African Scholars FAQs.
Opportunities to Learn More About Randomized Evaluations
1. Take the J-PAL Micromasters course
Anyone is welcome to audit the online course for free. However, participants are required to pay a fee to take the course exam which is required for course credit. Learn more on our MicroMasters webpage. J-PAL’s Digital Identification and Finance in Africa (DigiFI) Initiative offers limited scholarship funding for Micromasters courses. Please find more information on the DigiFI African Scholars Opportunities page.
2. African Scholars Webinars
For a brief overview of our African Scholars program, please see these slides from our launch event.
J-PAL hosted a four-part webinar series that covers some of the fundamentals of running randomized evaluations. We encourage folks to listen to the recorded sessions if they are interested.
- DigiFI Africa Scholars webinar with Jessica Goldberg (University of Maryland) Introduction to randomised evaluations with application to her Fingerprinting study in Malawi - Session recording
- DigiFI Africa Scholars webinar with Dan Levy (Harvard) [pre-recorded content] Why Randomise?
- DigiFI Africa Scholars webinar with Patrizio Piraino (University of Notre Dame) - Sample size and power - Session recording
- DigiFI Africa Scholars webinar with Emily Cupito and Gabe Tourek (J-PAL Africa) - How to write a good research funding proposal? - Session recording
3. Resources for African Scholars
The J-PAL team has identified a number of resources that may be useful for African Scholars who would like to refine their skills in randomized evaluation and research design.
a. What are randomized evaluations? How are they different from impact evaluations?
A randomized evaluation is a type of impact evaluation that uses random assignment to allocate resources, run programs, or apply policies as part of the study design. Like all impact evaluations, the main purpose of randomized evaluations is to determine whether a program has a causal impact, and more specifically, to quantify how large that impact is.
Impact evaluations measure program effectiveness typically by comparing outcomes of those (individuals, communities, schools, etc.) who received the program against those who did not. There are many methods of doing this. But randomized evaluations have the benefit of ensuring that there are very limited systematic differences between those who receive the program and those who do not, thereby producing accurate (unbiased) results about the effect of the program. For more information see J-PAL’s introduction to randomized evaluations.
b. Training in randomized evaluations
J-PAL runs an in-person Evaluating Social Programs course annually that is based in different locations. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Evaluating Social Programs are being offered virtually. This is intended to give an overview of randomized evaluations for a practitioner audience. Keep an eye on our website for more details. Video and lecture course content from a past Evaluating Social Programs course (JPAL101x) can be accessed here. A free online version of the course can also be found here.
J-PAL also hosts an online training course in designing and running randomized evaluations (J-PAL102x). This course teaches learners how to both design randomized evaluations and implement them in the field to measure the impact of social programs. It is a 12-week long course and can be audited for free. The course runs three times a year, in Spring, Summer and Fall. J-PAL’s Digital Identification and Finance in Africa (DigiFI) Initiative offers limited scholarship funding for this course. Please find more information on the DigiFI African Scholars Opportunities page.
c. Further reading on randomized evaluations
For a broad overview of how to design an RCT, please refer to Duflo, Esther, Rachel Glennerster, and Michael Kremer. Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit. In T. Schultz and John Strauss, Eds., Handbook of Development Economics. Vol. 4. Amsterdam and New York: North Holland, 2008.
We encourage all interested individuals to read Rachel Glennerster and Kudzai Takavarasha's book "Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide". Further information can be found on this website.
For an overview of experiments in development economics see Field Experiments in Development Economics E. Duflo, January 2006. Also see, Use of Randomization in the Evaluation of Development Effectiveness E. Duflo and M. Kremer, July 2003
Another good resource is Impact Evaluation in Practice P. Gertler, S. Martinez, P. Premand, L. Rawlings and C. Vermeersh
Access all of J-PAL’s research resources here.