Research Associate

J-PAL, India

Skill Required:, Research and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
1 to 3 Years
Closing Date for Applications: 
5th August, 2019

Job Description

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) was established in 2003 as a research center at the Economics Department at MIT. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty. J-PAL is propelled by a first-rate team dedicated to research, policy, training, and other vital work, supporting J-PAL's mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL South Asia, which is based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India, analyses and disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and that programs proven effective are scaled up. We have a growing number of partnerships in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

The Research Associate (RA) will be handling two projects: Tamil Nadu Early Childhood Education and ICDS-CAS system led by Karthik Muralidharan. The RA will work closely with academic researchers and field staff to perform a variety tasks including, but not limited to: designing survey questionnaires, conducting qualitative research, running pilot exercises, refining study designs 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 memos, and coordinating with local partners running the programs being evaluated.

Tamil Nadu Early Childhood Education (TNECE):

We are carrying out a randomized evaluation of the introduction of LKG/UKG classes in the Anganwadi Centers by the Tamil Nadu Government on a pilot basis. The evaluation measures the impact of the intervention on student’s learning outcomes and school readiness, along with the market dynamics of early childhood education services. The evaluation has the potential of informing further scale up across the state.

The evaluation will run for two years, starting from the current year 2019 till 2021. Along with the RCT, the project also entails process monitoring of the intervention. Thus, it provides a unique opportunity for the incoming RA to join early on to the project and see through the complete cycle.

Tamil Nadu ICDS-CAS:

Under the National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyaan), the ICDS Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, is rolling out the ICDS-CAS system across the state. The ICDS-CAS application digitalizes the records maintained by the Anganwadi workers and will make available real-time data on the activities of the AWW as well as the nutrition status of every child in the Anganwadi system. This is a pilot study with the aim to help strengthen the ICDS-CAS system by providing feedback on data quality through a series of independent field surveys. The findings from this pilot will provide insights into the quality of the data and any corrective measures that need to be adopted. The Research Associate will closely work with J-PAL South Asia’s IDEA (Innovation in Data, Experiments and Action) team to design, pilot and execute field surveys under this project.

The goal is for this pilot study to inform a randomized evaluation of potential interventions channelized through ICDS-CAS to improve nutrition outcomes. The randomized evaluation will also be led by Prof. Karthik Muralidharan.

Research Associate Roles and Responsibilities:

The RA will work closely with academic researchers and other field staff to perform a variety of 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.
  • Overseeing implementation of the evaluation in accordance with the research design, in association with our partner organization.
  • Maintaining relationships with partner organizations at both headquarters and field levels
  • Supervising data collection and data entry, and ensuring data quality and productivity.
  • Assisting with data cleaning, preliminary data analysis, and preparation of documents and presentations for dissemination
  • Reporting to PIs on all of the above-mentioned activities.
  • Maintain compliance with all J-PAL protocols and policies.

Desired Qualifications and Experience:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Statistics, 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 Tamil and English.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently, and a 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 Chennai and travel extensively to study sites across Tamil Nadu is essential


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