Senior Research Fellow, Digital Societies

Programme/ Department: Digital Societies

Contract Type: Full time, Fixed Term

Salary: £51,467-£64,888

Location: Overseas Development Institute

Hours: 35 hrs per week

Closing Date: 19 June 2020

Interview: Tuesday 30th June 2020

Assessment: TBC

Senior Research Fellow, Digital Societies


Senior Research Fellow, Digital Societies


Contract: 2 years Fixed-term

Salary: £51,467 - £64,888

 Ref.: DS/02/20

Location: London


An independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable
and peaceful world in which every person thrives.

About ODI

ODI is an independent, global think tank, working for a sustainable and peaceful world in which every person thrives. We harness the power of evidence and ideas through research and partnership to confront challenges, develop solutions and create change. (

About the Digital Societies Programme

ODI’s Digital Societies programme works to help build successful digital societies in low and middle-income countries.  The process of digitalisation is not a ‘development’ issue in the traditional sense: governments around the world face similar types of challenge around issues such as individual privacy, digital regulation, cybersecurity, digital identity and digital service delivery.  But the specific opportunities individual countries can take and the specific risks they face will be shaped by how they situate the process of digitalisation within wider social, economic, political and environmental considerations. 


Our programme’s work focuses in three areas:

  • Digital policy and decision making: helping policymakers and other stakeholders take decisions about digital technologies and helping them use evidence from digital sources more effectively and legitimately
  • Life as a digital citizen: understanding how digitalisation influences the hopes and aspirations of young people, the new rights & responsibilities that come with citizenship in our digital age, and the roots of digital discrimination
  • Digital power: analysing the new power relationships between states and large technology companies and the impact of these changing relationships on governments and citizens
  • We also have a significant theme of work in monitoring, evaluation and learning; harnessing the power of digital technologies and creating a better understanding of human behaviour to improve decision making, adaptive management and systems thinking.


Digital Societies is ODI’s newest team and this Senior Research Fellow post will work closely with the team’s Director to provide overall leadership to the programme.  It is an exciting opportunity for the right person to design, build and deliver their own coherent and influential body of research and analysis, to collaborate with experts across other ODI programmes and external partners, and to have a significant impact on policy and practice around digitalisation. 


Because this is a new team, we are open to innovative suggestions for how the Senior Research Fellow could build a programme of work within one or more of the four areas outlined above.  The successful candidate will need to demonstrate a strong track record in their chosen area – in thought leadership, policy advice and research.  They will also need to bring broad networks and significant experience in two or more of the following:

  • leading small, medium and large projects of research and analysis in one or more of the themes outlined above
  • applying and using digital technologies to support public sector decision making
  • product management for building digital services
  • working closely with senior decision makers in public and/or private sectors around processes of digitalisation


We also expect the postholder to have significant experience of line management, building coherent and sustainable strands of research and analysis within an overall strategy, and of fundraising for small, medium and large-scale projects.


About the role

The Senior Research Fellow will work closely with the Director of Digital Societies (DS) to build a coherent, comprehensive and influential programme of analysis, research and public affairs within the overall strategy for the team and ODI’s wider strategy.  S/he will:

  • build the programme’s position and reputation as a centre of excellence in understanding how to build successful digital societies
  • provide thematic leadership for this work and contribute to the strategic development of ODI’s overall work on digitalisation
  • contribute to strategy and leadership of the Digital Societies programme
  • build and line manage a sub-team within the programme
  • deliver substantive pieces of research and analysis in collaboration with colleagues from the DS team and other teams in ODI
  • build robust relationships with a wide range of external organisations and funding bodies within the programme’s broad scope
  • work closely with the DS Director and the Senior Communications Officer for digitalisation to help lead strategic communications for the programme, responding rapidly to emerging events with insightful analysis

About you

 This is a senior role within the team.  You will have substantial experience in a similar position, and a strong record of programme and project management involving research, analysis, advisory work and public affairs. 

Senior Research Fellows are expected to:

  • lead research and analysis across a range of topics, backed up by both academic and policy-targeted publications
  • be viewed as an authority in their own field
  • assess and develop new areas of research in the Institute and make a significant contribution to its general work
  • maintain a close watching brief of developments in their theme; being able to respond quickly and appropriately with high quality analysis
  • develop and fundraise for major new themes of work
  • develop strategic and successful partnerships with organisations in LMIC countries based on a commitment to shared values

Knowledge and Qualifications

  • A degree and post-graduate qualification (preferably a PhD) in a relevant discipline or at least 10 years’ experience
  • Extensive and deep knowledge of key issues associated with the processes of digitalisation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)
  • Recognition as a thought leader in a relevant topic
  • A strong record of research, analysis and publications focusing on informing policy and practice around the opportunities, risks and challenges presented by digitalisation
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively at senior levels in a range of public and private sector organisations and with the private sector



  • Extensive practical experience of designing, implementing and supporting research and advisory work around digitalisation in LMICs; and of using the resulting evidence to inform policy debates
  • Demonstrated experience of managing multidisciplinary teams in a largely contract-driven environment; including consortium working with a range of types of partner from LMICs
  • Demonstrated experience of managing timely delivery of high-quality outputs for different audiences
  • Proven track record in business development and fundraising from different types of funding agency
  • An established and responsive network of public, private and civil society organisations for potential partnerships


  • Strong quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods research skills and a demonstrated ability to build that capacity in others through practical experience
  • The ability to write clearly for a range of audiences, with excellent oral communication skills
  • Excellent organisational skills


  • A demonstrated capacity for policy advisory or public affairs work, based on an analytical approach and an innovative and creative communications ability
  • Strong management abilities including
    • Mentoring and managing young researchers and support staff
    • Managing interdisciplinary research teams
    • Providing intellectual leadership in analysing new and complex issues
    • Quality control of research and advisory work
    • Project management and financial planning for complex projects/ programmes


  • Fluency in a second language
  • Substantial periods of time living and working in developing countries
  • Regular contribution to academic journals or grey literature, including in an editorial capacity
  • Active membership of professional associations and networks

 Closing date: Friday, 19 June 2020

Interview date: Tuesday, 30 June 2020


For more information, download an application pack here. If you are experiencing difficulties downloading, phone +44 (0)20 7922 8234 / 0351 or email

ODI is an equal opportunities employer.

Charity Reg. No. 228248.


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