Mental illness is the second-largest contributor to the global burden of disease among youth and adults and is projected to be the highest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2030. The level of untreated mental health problems is especially high in regions where exposure to war, violence, and poverty is prevalent.

IPA Sierra Leone is seeking a highly motivated and qualified individuals with outstanding research project management, data analysis, people management and communication skills as Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, to manage two mental health and economic development research projects funded by NIMH in collaboration with Boston College. The parent project – Youth Readiness Intervention, will integrate a CBT-based intervention into an existing youth employment program and evaluate barriers to implementation and intervention effectiveness, as measured by impact on social functioning (soft skills), emotion regulation and economic stability. While an embedded study – Diffusion and Spillover, intends to investigate the indirect mental health benefits of the YRI among peers and caregivers of youth who receive the intervention in Sierra Leone.

The Research Associate/Senior Research Associate (RA/SRA) will take a lead role in coordination and management of the studies. This position provides an excellent opportunity to gain extensive hands‐on experience in a field setting and to have significant management responsibility in a vibrant organization undertaking cutting‐edge development research. Key areas of involvement will include: designing survey questionnaires, recruiting, training and managing survey teams, designing and supervising logistics for the field activities, cleaning and analyzing survey data, assisting in the writing of project reports and policy memos, and liaising with key government and nongovernmental stakeholders. The work will develop your analytical and management skills and require your full commitment in a challenging environment. Most importantly, the candidate will have the opportunity to co-author on various public health publications with the researchers on this project.

The intervention was implemented between August to November 2019. During this period, IPA carried out the randomization, baseline and three months follow up survey for the YRI study and a baseline survey for the YRI Diffusion Study. From July to September 2019, IPA intends to carry out the one year follow up surveys for both studies. The principal investigators are Dr. Theresa Betancourt (Boston College), Dr. Nate Hansen (University of Georgia), Dr. Agha Ali Akram (Lahore University of Management Sciences)., Dr. Alethea Desrosiers (Boston College) and Dr. Praveen Kumar (Boston College). IPA Sierra Leone is looking for someone who can commit a minimum of one year on the 2 projects, with a possibility to continue with IPA in higher capacity for other projects based on his/her performance.


The Senior Research Associate will perform a variety of tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Keep the Country Director and Research Manager/Coordinator apprised of all developments on the projects in their portfolio, and serve as key link between the field office, project staff, and Principal Investigators
  • Ensure project adherence in the field to general research design, sample selection, data management and analysis, and overall project management
  • Oversee project financial management, including creation and monitoring of project budgets, and ensure smooth integration of projects into IPA financial systems
  • Directly supervise project research staff, and support Research Manager in staff transitions, on-boarding of new research staff and maintaining “institutional memory” of project activities
  • Coordinate research and implementation efforts with all relevant stakeholders
  • Develop and pilot the survey instruments, including programming digital data collection
  • Ensure that project deliverables, such as reports and financial statements, are submitted to donors and partners on time
  • Provide high level statistical data analysis including regression analysis, correlation statistics and balance tables
  • Lead training on data management and general project management for new/incoming project research staff
  • Promote inter-project best practices and take a lead in sharing best practices with projects through formal and informal training opportunities
  • Be the point of contact for data management for project staff
  • Attend meetings with local government officials and partners to ensure success of both project specific and key IPA programmatic activities
  • When requested, support the dissemination of results via presentations and reports to academic and non-academic audiences
  • Support the Country Director and Research Manager in the development of new research studies in cooperation with principal investigators and partner organizations
  • A degree (Master’s preferred) in economics, political science, public policy, international development, or related fields.
  • Excellent project management skills and attention to detail, with a quality-focused mindset.
  • Experience interacting with partners, government officials and other key stakeholders.
  • Cultural sensitivity and demonstrated ability to work successfully with diverse constituencies.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English.
  • Ability to work independently, problem-solve, and enlist support when needed.
  • Strong quantitative skills and proficient knowledge of STATA.
  • Must be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines.
  • Experience working in Liberia or the West African context would be preferable.
  • Knowledge of randomized controlled trials and econometrics.
  • Knowledge of measurement and instrument development.
  • Experience supervising data collection and teams of field workers. 
  • Demonstrated ability to lead staff efficiently to achieve project goals.
  • Flexible, self-motivating, able to manage multiple tasks efficiently and a team player.

Desired Qualifications

  • Experience working (preferably in a research-related capacity) in developing countries in the region.
  • Familiarity with randomized controlled trials and other quasi-experimental designs
  • Someone wanting to pursue a PhD track and undertaken data analysis

Physical Requirements

  • Ability and willingness to travel to various project sites
  • Ability to safely and successfully perform the essential job functions consistent with government standards, including meeting qualitative and/or quantitative productivity standards
  • Ability to maintain regular, punctual attendance consistent with IPA standards
  • Must be able to talk, listen and speak clearly on telephone
Application Instructions 

Complete the J-PAL/IPA common application. After completing a brief registration, choose the Research job category, then select “(Senior) Research Associate, Sierra Leone ”. Most applications require you to include two letters of recommendation, statement of purpose (cover letter), CV, and transcripts. 

Given the volume of applications received, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

About IPA 

Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor. In recent decades, trillions of dollars have been spent on programs designed to reduce global poverty, but clear evidence on which programs succeed is rare, and when evidence does exist, decision-makers often do not know about it. IPA exists to bring together leading researchers and these decision-makers to ensure that the evidence we create leads to tangible impact on the world. Since its founding in 2002, IPA has worked with over 575 leading academics to conduct over 650 evaluations in 51 countries. This research has informed hundreds of successful programs that now impact millions of individuals worldwide. 


Innovations for Poverty Action is an EO Employer-MF/Veteran/Disability. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other protected class. IPA will endeavor to make a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of our business. If you believe you require such assistance to complete this form or to participate in an interview, please contact us at or via phone at 1-203-772-2216. Disclaimer: The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of the work to be performed by the specified position. The statements are not intended to be an exhaustive list of all possible duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet organizational needs as necessary. Please note that IPA will never request any form of payment from an applicant. Applicants are encouraged to confirm the information listed above with IPA prior to releasing any extensive personal information to the organization. Please direct questions to

** Please note that only qualified applicants will be contacted by the hiring manager.