Research, Education, and Training Associate

J-PAL, United States

Skill Required:, Research and Analysis
Preferred Experience: 
2 years of relevant work experience
Closing Date for Applications: 
30th September, 2019

Job Description

We are hiring a Research, Training, and Education (RET) Associate for our Research team within J-PAL Global’s Research, Education, and Training (RET) group. Our team of 14, including five economics and political science PhDs, cares deeply about research and research transparency, data quality, developing new methods in RCT research, and staying at the frontier of social science research. We are always looking for ways to improve current research practices and creating tools and materials that help others who conduct RCT research.

You are a good candidate for this role if you are interested in RCTs and the data collected for them, and would like to learn about working with such data, including building up your coding skills in Stata, R, and other programs; perhaps you are thinking about going on to your PhD in Economics or Political Science. Candidates who are interested in the General Data Research Associate position but would like to begin work sooner are strongly encouraged to apply.

In this role, you will be exposed to the latest research in economics and work directly with affiliated researchers, as they register new randomized trials in the AEA Social Science Registry, publish their latest research data, or replicate their data analysis prior to publishing an academic paper. You will also work with members of our team, including a postdoc in applied econometrics, on a new project thinking systematically about RCT data and its properties. We are learning how RCT data is used in new research projects, for example to train machine learning algorithms, to extrapolate measured effects to broader populations, or to evaluate bias in non-experimental methods, and how we can support such research. This work may include finding RCT data that has been or can be used for new methods research; surveying users about what types of projects they do with RCT data; thinking about the properties of data, how it is used, and reading associated research papers; and creating better ways of searching and documenting RCT data. Through these activities, you will be exposed to many different data sets from RCTs, including those recently collected in the field; get a sense of what data is collected and how; and gain a comprehensive overview of the newest methodological and RCT research in applied economics.

You will also work with us to build out research resources for staff, develop data analysis tools, review reference and teaching materials for research staff, and help organize courses for research staff and policymakers. We work closely with staff from our regional offices in North America, Chile, France, India, Indonesia, and South Africa as well as staff from J-PAL’s partner organizations, like Innovations for Poverty Action and the Center for Effective Global Action.

In this position, you will have the opportunity to work with some of the top researchers at MIT and around the world. You can attend MIT/Harvard economics seminars, take classes at MIT, and participate in many professional development opportunities, such as taking (or teaching in) some of our courses on randomized evaluations, or participate in our research staff trainings for field RAs in Goa and New Hampshire.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Develop new tools for J-PAL research projects (such as the development of code, packages, programs, etc.) that increase the efficiency of research staff;Think systematically about RCT data, its properties, and how it is used, such as by surveying users and reading associated research papers;
  • Document and prepare research datasets for publication, including gathering “metadata” used in methods research, and building tools that streamline and facilitate these tasks for our research partners;
  • Conduct data analysis and answer questions on Research Transparency with our own data;Review new randomized trials submitted to the registry and analyze registry entries;
  • Research and design new teaching modules and prepare presentations, case studies, and manuals to train researchers, research staff, and policymakers on randomized evaluation methods and the responsible use of data in research;
  • Support J-PAL’s online course portfolio, including MIT’s new MicroMasters program by assisting students with data analysis assignments;
  • Other assignments as needed as the position grows.

Skills and qualifications

  • Education: A Bachelor’s degree in economics, political science, education, public policy, international development, or other related fields required. Master’s degree preferred. Significant training in and a strong technical understanding of randomized evaluations is required.
  • Experience: At least 2 years of work experience is required (which may include experience gained as an undergraduate), including in quantitative data analysis and economics or a related discipline. The ideal candidate will have experience with data cleaning and analysis of large and complex data sets. Experience in conducting field research in developing countries with a background in randomized evaluations is a plus.
  • Interest in Development and Policy: Interest in poverty alleviation policy and research, as demonstrated by coursework and/or study or work abroad.
  • Quantitative skills: Knowledge of data management, data analysis, and econometrics is required.
  • Software: Must have a good command of Stata, or have knowledge of R or other analytics programs plus the ability and willingness to quickly learn Stata. Office applications (Powerpoint, Excel) are required. LaTeX knowledge or exposure to Matlab, Python, or Julia are a plus.


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