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Job id: 067005. Salary: £41,386 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance.

Posted: 09 May 2023. Closing date: 04 June 2023.

Business unit: Social Science & Public Policy. Department: Education, Communication & Society.

Contact details: Meg Maguire.

Location: Waterloo Campus. Category: Research.

Job description

We are seeking to recruit an organised, reliable and enthusiastic qualitative researcher with expertise in sociology or another relevant social science discipline to work on our ESRC-funded project, ‘Young Lives, Young Futures’. This is a longitudinal mixed methods study investigating how England’s education and training system can better support the transitions into further education and work of the 50 per cent of young people who don’t go to university.

The research is focussed on the 15-20 age group and has a particular emphasis on engaging with the perspectives of young people themselves, including those who are most marginalised and whose input is often not heard in policymaking. Further details about the study can be found on our project website here.

The successful candidate will work collaboratively as part of a larger research team. They will be based in the Centre for Public Policy Research, a friendly and vibrant research centre within the School of Education, Communication and Society in the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy. The work will require some travel and overnight stays for fieldwork.

The responsibilities of the post include: planning and organizing the qualitative fieldwork; qualitative data collection, analysis and data management; facilitating the project’s youth advisory group; and undertaking  and supporting dissemination and knowledge exchange activities, including academic and non-academic writing. The postholder will also co-lead the impact work with the young people. This will include, for example, in the final year of the project working in partnership with a human rights charity and professional film maker to support young people to reflect on the project data and their own experiences as a springboard for developing their self- and collective advocacy skills.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in sociology or another relevant discipline (e.g. anthropology, social geography, social policy), strong qualitative research skills and a strong interest in social justice. They will be able to show evidence of high quality academic writing, excellent written and spoken English, a commitment to working collaboratively with others inside and outside the university and substantial experience of grassroots work with diverse groups of young people, for example, in youth work or similar settings.

We particularly welcome applications from candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

This post will be offered on a full-time, fixed term contract until 30 September 2024.

Key responsibilities

  • Organising and conducting qualitative interviews with young people, parents/carers, policy makers and practitioners and keeping in touch with young people between interviews
  • Contributing to analysis of the qualitative data, using NVivo
  • Contributing to managing the storage and organisation of data and relevant documents on the project’s Sharepoint site
  • Carrying out final checks and documenting of the qualitative data for archiving
  • Participating in reviewing literature relevant to the research
  • Contributing to desk work on the demographic and policy contexts of our case study local authorities
  • Co-authoring academic conference papers, peer-reviewed journal publications and reports based on the research findings
  • Contributing to high quality writing and presentations for a range of non-academic audiences, including reports, blogs and news items on the project website, media articles, presentations at conferences and other events, and CPD resources for practitioners
  • Organising, recruiting for and facilitating the project’s youth advisory group
  • Helping with the planning and running of other project-related activities, including project team meetings, project advisory panel meetings, public engagement events and other administration as required
  • Co-leading on the impact work with young people
  • Participating in staff and career development as appropriate
  • Contributing to the academic life of the Centre for Public Policy Research and the wider School of Education, Communication and Society, e.g. by participating in research centre and School seminars and meetings.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

Essential criteria

1. PhD in sociology or other relevant area (e.g. anthropology, social geography, or social policy)

2. Strong qualitative research skills including expertise in qualitative interviewing and qualitative data analysis using NVivo

3. Evidence of high quality academic writing

4. Strong communication skills, with excellent written and spoken English, including the ability to communicate effectively with young people, as well as professionals and practitioners from a range of agencies and organisations

5. A proven capacity to reach out to and develop rapport with diverse groups of marginalised young people, and ideally also their parents /carers

6. Strong organisational and administrative skills, including the ability to prioritise and multi-task and work effectively as part of a team

7. A commitment to social justice and equality in relation to practice and to working collaboratively with colleagues and others inside and outside of the university. (This could be evidenced, for example, in previous research conducted, community activism and/or experience of implementing equality policies in a work setting)

8. Dedicated, hardworking, reliable and flexible (including a willingness to travel and stay overnight at hotels/B&Bs for fieldwork for short periods of time)

9. Self-motivated and able to work independently

Desirable criteria

1.   Familiarity with debates relevant to the study, e.g. on young people’s school to work transitions, youth employment and unemployment, vocational education and training, careers support and guidance, intersectionality

2.   Experience of working on funded research projects

3.   Experience of facilitating activities and/or creating outputs that involve generating impact from research

4.   Experience of developing high-quality research-based publications

Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

Further information

The selection process will include a panel interview and a presentation. The interviews will be held on 22 or 23 June.

Applications should include:

  • A cover letter that includes what attracted you to the role and outlines how you meet all of the essential criteria (no more than 1,000 words).
  • A full CV, including qualifications and any publications.
  • A piece of independently produced academic work (which could be a chapter from your doctoral thesis or a published or unpublished article) that best demonstrates the quality of your academic writing and ideally also your ability to work with qualitative data.

This post is subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service Clearance.