Post Doctoral Researcher in Evaluation of Complex Interventions (19-2019)

Hours per week: Full Time, 35 hours per week
Contract Type: Permanent
Grade: Grade 7
Salary: £36159 to £47794  per annum pro rata
Closing Date: 23.59 hours BST on Thursday 05 September 2019
Interview Date: 24/10/2019

Who We Are

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) delivers world-class research, learning and teaching that transforms the knowledge, action and leadership needed for more equitable and sustainable development globally.

Our Vision

We want a more equitable and sustainable world, where people everywhere can live their lives free from poverty and injustice.

What We Do

Through equitable and sustainable partnerships, we work with governments, philanthropic foundations, non-governmental organisations, academics and civil society to transform approaches to progressive social, political and economic change in ways that ultimately make a difference to people’s lives. 

We have helped foster innovative new partnerships that have generated millions of dollars in additional tax revenues in Africa that can be reinvested in countries’ national development. We have worked to provide solutions to environmental problems that build on local people’s knowledge and practices. We have highlighted the role of local communities in bringing an end to deadly epidemics like the Ebola virus.  We have nurtured hundreds of exceptional development leaders and champions including political leaders, country Ambassadors and government officials, civil society leaders and entrepreneurs.

Our reputation for research and international outlook is second to none and reflected in our performance in the latest QS World University Rankings where we are ranked first in the world for development studies, together with the University of Sussex. We are also ranked as the number one international development think-tank by the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report.

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Job Description

The role will sit within the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster, which specializes in the development of participatory research methods with particular emphasis on systematic social exclusion facing women, people living in extreme poverty, people with disabilities, slaves and bonded labourers and others. This requires a systemic understanding of change, and an activist approach to research. We describe such an approach as participatory practice.

Through our work, we aim to: 

Overall purpose of the role:

Post-doctoral research posts at IDS provide the opportunity for recent PhD graduates to develop further research experience, in collaboration with more senior colleagues. This is seen as a transitional position between a PhD and a longer-term research career. The position should also provide opportunity for the Post-doctoral post holder to write and publish, either collaboratively with others, or drawing from their own work, but the time and structure of this will depend on the nature of the funding for the post. 

Working across two multi-partner global programmes the post-doctoral researcher will work with teams innovating in evaluation methodologies that bridge participatory and complexity-aware approaches to support evidence generation and learning for adaptive management. At the interface of design, operationalisation, documentation and practice of innovative MEL systems, this is a unique position for someone who is centrally concerned with understanding how development outcomes and impact can be achieved for those living at the margins, and who wishes to contribute to new, intelligent evaluation research in international development. Paying close attention to how multiple forms of evidence about how change happens are generated and bridged and learning from programme work will provide opportunity for an early career researcher to contribute to both theory and practice at a world class research institute.

The work will be under the direction and line management of either a Cluster Leader, Principal Investigator or other designated Senior Fellow. The line manager is responsible for induction, appraisal, support and ongoing management to support excellent performance, though these activities can be designated to other senior colleagues by agreement. The post will be supported by the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) at IDS. CDI contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation, through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs. It is a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The line manager will support the Post-doctoral Researcher to achieve a programme of published work and in the second year of the post, to identify and pursue suitable future funding opportunities, building up independent fundraising skills. 

The Post-doctoral Researcher will also be a member of the Participation, Inclusion and Social Change research cluster whose leader and members can be expected to provide broader intellectual support, but who are not responsible for fundraising or career progression.

Postdoctoral Researchers will have a ‘career progression review’ towards the end of their two years in post, conducted by a designated small group of IDS research leaders and managers, to take stock of performance and advise on career development prospects. 

All post-doctoral Researchers are additionally welcome to take advantage of the Institute’s mentoring scheme. 


The responsibilities of the Postdoctoral Researcher include

 Research activities

 Undertake a range of desk research, including carrying out literature reviews and other background research activities in timely fashion to the agreed standard.

 Undertake field-based research as appropriate.

 Maintain up to date knowledge of key literatures and methodologies on the relevant areas of research.

 Write up literature reviews, formal reports and other syntheses of projects, including web topic guides, issue papers and other documents as required in accordance with the agreed specifications.

 Produce high quality publications, aiming at a minimum of one article-length piece during each year of the post-doctoral fellowship

 Assist with managing projects in collaboration with hub staff and the relevant research leader, including budgets, timelines and outputs.

Networking and liaison

 Build and maintain networks and relationships with clients, funders and partner organisations.

 Promote the work of the Institute both nationally and internationally.

 Develop links with external contacts to foster collaboration and partnerships.


 Work on all aspects of effective communication outputs, including social media, media interviews, and the production of high quality publications.

Teaching and Learning

 Contribute to post-graduate teaching and the production of on-line teaching material.


 The post-doctoral Researcher will be a member of the Participation, Power & Social Change Cluster and will have opportunities to participate in the activities of the wider cluster

 Contribute to the strategic development of IDS, and taking part in IDS-wide discussions and debates

 Carry out other IDS-related and ad hoc tasks as required

 Contribute to the collegial life of IDS

 Participate in cluster/department and Institute activities as required. Act as a responsible group member and develop productive working relationships with others


 Depending on their main funding source and its expectations, the post doctoral Researcher will have opportunities to develop and seek funding for other research studies, including participating in and leading the development of new proposals.

 Identify and pursue new funding sources.

 Assist with, and increasingly, lead, the development and writing of bids and proposals

 Build relationships which are likely to lead to funding

The Post Doctoral Researcher position is a fixed term position, for two years. It is normally fully funded in the first year and 75% funded in year two by which time individuals will be expected to start to diversify their funding and pursue funding opportunities. With support and training the aim is for the post doctoral researcher to develop their own portfolio of work.  It is anticipated that for the right candidate this role will eventually lead to the possibility of application to a Fellowship position at IDS, subject to a vacancy arising and meeting the required standards as assessed by the Fellow Review and Promotion Board. The funding for these two programmes has been secured for four years, so there is an opportunity to continue to work on these existing programmes.  


Person Specification

Skills and experience
Selection Criteria Description Essential [E] or
Desirable [D]
by *
• PhD in Development Studies, Anthropology or Political Science
• Demonstrate appropriate record of academic outputs
• Broad, varied and in-depth knowledge of the theoretical and practical literature on impact evaluation, contribution analysis, complexity-aware approaches, monitoring, evaluation and learning, evaluation of innovation, participatory action research, adaptive management
• Fluency in spoken and written English
• Substantial work, research and/or programme experience on developing countries or relevant roles
• Experience of production of research outputs, demonstrated by appropriate record of working papers and reports.
• Experience of designing and conducting a research study including secondary and primary research
• Experience of conducting fieldwork in isolated conditions
• Experience of literature review and working with ‘grey literature’
• Experience of data management and analysis
• Experience in the development of research proposals
• Experience of teaching at university level and development of teaching materials
• Experience of turning research findings into policy-relevant outputs (eg policy briefings; effective communication or dissemination events or products)
• Excellent analytical, research methods (qualitative and/or quantitative) and writing skills, demonstrated by a record of projects, publications and reports
• Ability to translate academic knowledge into policy and practice-relevant outputs
• Strong interpersonal skills, including:
- Ability to work with researchers from a variety of backgrounds and in a variety of contexts, including overseas
- Ability to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and mixed skill teams (e.g. researchers and practitioners);
- Skills in negotiation, problem-solving and decision-making
• Strong organizational and time management skills, including the ability to manage a complex workload
• Production of teaching materials for post-graduate students
• Use of ICTs for dissemination of research methods and findings
• Spoken and written communication abilities for a range of audiences
• Languages (spoken and read beyond English)
• Self-motivated, goal-oriented, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial attitude
• Demonstrated capacity for leadership and innovation in the field
• Commitment to team and collaborative working
• Problem-solving approach
• Willingness and ability to travel internationally E A/I
*A - Application I - Interview

Information to Candidates

Benefits At IDS we offer a number of additional benefits to staff. These include:

The successful candidate will be based at the Institute of Development Studies on the University of Sussex campus. The University of Sussex is located 10 minutes away from the lively and cosmopolitan seaside city of Brighton on the UK South Coast, 60 minutes away from central London, 30 minutes away from London Gatwick Airport and is surrounded by the beautiful countryside of the Sussex South Downs. Situated between the sea and the South Downs, Brighton is one of the most vibrant and unique cities on the South Coast, for more information please go to

How to apply

Please apply using the online application form.