Social Science Baha


Applications are invited for the position of Research Associate in the project New Norms and Forms of Development: Brokerage in Maternal and Child Health Service Development and Delivery in Nepal and Malawi, which is part of a research grant awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council/DfID to the University of Edinburgh (UoE) for the project.

Through its focus on the role and functions of different types of institutions and professionals who broker health sector development projects and programmes, the research aims to understand the nature of mediation and translation involved in that process and the difference these actors make in meeting the global development objectives. Moving beyond the ideological positions and arguments that defend or condemn this ‘neoliberalisation’ of aid, this research will focus on the role and functions of intermediaries that broker the delivery of aid by UKaid and USAID in the Maternal Child Health sector in Nepal and Malawi. A key objective of the research is to investigate what donors can do to make these intermediaries more effective, or how can they best engage with intermediaries as emerging development actors?

This is led by a research group at the UoE with Social Science Baha as the institutional partner in Nepal. Members of the research team belong to the Department of Social Anthropology and the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh. The research team include Dr Ian Harper and Dr Jeevan Sharma (Department of Social Anthropology, UoE) Prof. Pam Smith and Dr Radha Adhikari (School of Health in Social Science, UoE), Deepak Thapa (Social Science Baha) and Dr Address Malata (Kamuzu College of Nursing).

The position
The successful applicant will be based at the Social Science Baha, Battisputali, Kathmandu. The position will commence on 1 June, 2014, and will last no later than 31 May, 2016.

S/he will conduct ethnographic research, supplemented with focussed interviews, into the nature, role and functions of different types of institutions and professionals, who broker maternal child health development programmes in Nepal and the differences these arrangements make in meeting maternal and child health objectives. S/he will carry out fieldwork and basic qualitative data collection, transcriptions of interviews, data management through to contributing to analysis and writing up.

S/he will have a postgraduate qualification in a relevant discipline (sociology, public health, anthropology, social work, development studies, economics, management, business studies or related discipline) and be experienced in research and writing, with sound research methods. S/he will have good awareness of research activities in Nepal including the knowledge of different projects and initiatives in the field of maternal and child health. Preferably s/he will have had experience working in either the public health and/or the social research sectors in Nepal, and have an understanding of how bilateral donors work in the country. S/he must be fluent in both spoken and written English and Nepali.

S/he will both initiate research and work with other members of the research group, and with collaborators outside of Nepal. The post would suit those with a master’s degree looking to develop a research career in Nepal in the arena of health and public policy.

Duties and responsibilities
A significant amount of time for this research will be spent in the collection and management of research data. It may need some travel (up to 10%) outside of Kathmandu. The successful candidate will:

  • Work closely in coordination with Dr Ian Harper, Prof. Pam Smith, Dr Radha Adhikari, Deepak Thapa, and Dr Jeevan Sharma in developing and conducting all aspects of the research.
  • Help to specify the research for Nepal, in interaction with the team from Edinburgh and the partner in Malawi.
  • Conduct ethnographic fieldwork on the brokering of maternal and child health projects and programme activities (by NGOs, private firms, consultants, and collaborations of various kinds) in Nepal and map the range and extent of such activities.
  • Partake of qualitative research and data collection relating to maternal and child health programming funded by UKaid and USAID in Nepal. This will involve undertaking ethnographic and interview-based research and data collection with a range of participants involved in these processes, including, but not limited to, government officials, NGO and donor professionals and field workers, researchers, consultants, research organisations, representatives of civil society, etc.
  • Record, transcribe (and, where necessary, translate) analyse and write up the results of the studies, in consultation with other study members.
  • Prepare and present findings of research activity to colleagues for review purposes.
  • Conduct comprehensive literature searches, including research literature, technical reports, and internal documents, as well as journal and media writings (in both Nepali and English) in Nepal.
  • Assist in the translation of taped transcripts and key documents – from Nepali to English, and vice versa – including academic / policy papers produced.
  • Collect and assist in analysing legal and policy documents relating to maternal and child health as pertaining to Nepal.
  • Contribute to the drafting and submission of papers to appropriate peer-reviewed journals.
  • Participate, as necessary, in workshops both in Malawi and Edinburgh.
  • Work with and assist in the coordination of visits of any other members of the research team on visits to Nepal.
  • Adapt, if necessary, to other dimensions of research not specified above as the project progresses.

As duties and responsibilities change, the job description will be reviewed and may be amended in consultation with the holder of the position. The research associate will be expected to develop excellent working relations with other members of SSB, and other collaborators outside of the organisation, both in Nepal, and in Malawi and the UK.

Person specification


  • A post-graduate degree in sociology, public health, anthropology, social work, social policy, development studies, economics, management, business studies or other related disciplines.
  • Experience in a relevant research or work experience in the field such as social science or health-related research in relation to public policy, research governance and bilateral aid.
  • Advanced computer skills.


  • A good knowledge of foreign aid in Nepal and more broadly on the functioning of bilateral agencies, or the ability to gain such a knowledge.
  • A good working knowledge of maternal and child health programmes in the context of Nepal.
  • Practical experience of working in the field of maternal and child health programmes.


  • Experience of writing in the media and/or for an academic audience in both English and Nepali.
  • An understanding of qualitative research methods with excellent skills in qualitative interviewing, writing fieldnotes, management of qualitative data and qualitative data analysis.


  • Excellent written and oral communication in both English and Nepali.
  • Ability to work as part of a team.
  • Ability to form good working relationships with a wide range of people.


  • Ability to work on own initiative.
  • Ability to work flexibly.
  • Ability to prioritise and deliver outputs to an agreed timetable.

To apply, please submit:
i.    A one-page application describing your suitability for the position;
ii.   A CV not exceeding two pages, with your contact telephone number;
iii.  Names and addresses of two referees; and
iv.  A 500-word essay on ‘Politics of Foreign Aid and Development in Nepal’

Send your application by email to:
Application deadline: 30 April, 2014
Interview date: 7 May, 2014

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for the interview.