J-PAL North America, a research center within the Economics department at MIT, seeks a Research Associate to join its team and contribute to its mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL North America conducts randomized evaluations, builds partnerships for evidence-informed policymaking, and helps partners scale up effective programs. As a regional office of the global Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, J-PAL North America leverages research by affiliated professors from universities across the world to generate and disseminate rigorous evidence about which anti-poverty social policies work and why.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential to address the complex causes and consequences of poverty. To advance our mission, J-PAL North America must draw on diverse experiences from our staff and affiliated researchers in order to ask better questions and identify better solutions. We are working to increase the limited representation of individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in the economics profession. Our organization is implementing strategies to attract, develop, and advance a diverse staff and building a pipeline to increase diversity among economic researchers. We are committed to engaging in self-reflection, learning, and dialogue to nurture understanding across differences. Together, we will build an equitable, inclusive culture where everyone is respected, empowered, and heard. To learn more about our work and team culture, see our Join Our Team brochure or visit www.povertyactionlab.org/na.
As a member of the J-PAL North America team, you’ll be part of a Nobel prize winning scientific movement that can strengthen the wider research community and transform US policy making. Our Research Associates play an important part in this work by providing research management support on impact evaluations. Projects will cover a range of topics selected through J-PAL North America’s funding initiatives, such as the Health Care Delivery Initiative, State and Local Innovation Initiative, and Education Initiative. As a Research Associate, you will also help the Research team draw lessons from the implementation and analysis of evaluations and translate these lessons into generalizable best practices, protocols, training materials or online research resources, such as guide to working with administrative data, rules of thumb for power calculations, a checklist for launching randomized evaluations, and Global Research Staff Training.
For our Research Associate positions, we are looking for candidates with an understanding of impact evaluation, training in economics and statistics, strong writing and communication skills, and a commitment to evidence-based policy. We seek applicants from diverse backgrounds and welcome candidates with experience working on randomized evaluations in the United States or abroad.
Research Management Support (75%):
- Support the design of new randomized evaluations through literature reviews, background research, data analysis, and project management.
- Assist with obtaining access to administrative data and applying for IRB approvals. Write evaluation design memos describing proposed interventions or evaluation methods.
- Assist in refining the theory of change, developing an analysis plan, and identifying potential constraints and threats to the integrity of the experiment.
- Support relationship management between J-PAL North America, researchers, and external partners to foster collaboration on impact evaluations. Field ad hoc research assistance requests (e.g., advice on the use of administrative data, power calculations, and research resources).
- Build capacity of research staff through supporting Global Research Staff Training.
Research Resource Development (25%):
- Contribute to the development, curation, and dissemination of research resources and best practices in conducting rigorous evaluation.
- Centralize information and best practices on research management, administrative data access and analysis, ethics, regulatory compliance, and other research issues. Identify gaps in research resource content and propose resources to fill these gaps.
- Update and adapt existing resources so they are relevant to researchers operating in the North American context. Translate lessons learned from specific evaluations into general research resources.
- Manage the development of the Catalog of Administrative Data Sets.
Compensation & Benefits
This full-time, exempt position is classified by MIT as a Technical Associate I position and currently offers a fixed market-based salary range that is based on experience.J-PAL North America staff are MIT employees, which means they are eligible for a wide array of institutional benefits. Some of these MIT benefits include comprehensive health insurance, a 401(k) match up to 5% of salary plus a pension-based retirement plan, tuition assistance up to $5,250 per calendar year, commuter benefits, access to MyLifeServices, a generous vacation policy (3 weeks of paid vacation in your first year, and 4 weeks every year after that), plus an additional 12+ paid Institute-wide holidays per year), paid leave for sick time, maternity and parental leave, back-up child care benefits and much more.
J-PAL North America supports a culture of learning, with opportunities to attend weekly seminars, engage in small-group discussions with other J-PAL staff, participate in workshops, and take classes for credit at MIT or elsewhere with our generous tuition assistance program. Research Associates have the opportunity to work with J-PAL affiliates and directors, as well as interact with policymakers and practitioners.
- Commitment to Mission & Values: Cares personally and deeply about policy that has the potential to reduce poverty and the rigorous research that informs it. Demonstrates interest in poverty alleviation in the North American (primarily the United States) context in particular. Demonstrates a commitment to J-PAL North America’s values.
- Education: Holds a bachelor’s or advanced degree in economics, statistics, public policy or a closely related field that includes significant training in economics and statistics or quantitative methods of program evaluation.
- Experience: This is a junior-level position generally occupied by recent college or master program graduates, which requires demonstrating the equivalent of 2 years of relevant work experience involving research, social policy or data analysis, which can include experience gained through part-time work, college level coursework, related internships, volunteer experiences, research assistant or teaching assistant experience and/or policy work. Prior demonstrated experience working with communities of color and/or those experiencing poverty in North America is a plus.
- Technical Skills: Demonstrates the ability to accurately explain basic concepts related to randomized evaluation and other impact evaluation methodologies with minimal support and accurately explain research design, study implementation, results, and/or data systems on assigned projects. Prior experience working on prospective randomized evaluations is a plus.
- Ownership of Work: Takes responsibility/is accountable for effectively completing assigned discrete tasks or projects with high attention to detail under direct supervision. Written Communication: Accurately and succinctly communicates in writing with J-PAL staff and stakeholders on assigned projects with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. Clearly communicates technical information to non-technical audiences. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.
- Oral Communication: Demonstrates strong active listening skills and accurately and succinctly communicates information orally to staff and external partners with minimal supervision from senior-level staff. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.
- External Stakeholder Relations: Has the ability to support partnership development between researchers and potential implementing partners and/or maintain relationships with existing stakeholders under supervision from researchers or managers.
- Task & Project Management: Demonstrates ability to take on a process-oriented task, plan and organize work, delegate appropriately, coordinate with others, establish appropriate priorities and timelines, exercise follow through, and add overall value to the process.
- Problem Solving/Decision Making: Has the ability to analyze facts, respond to problems, issues, and opportunities that are identified by supervisors, and collaborate to identify a solution or response.