Job: Post-Doctoral Research Associate for 2 Economic Development Research Projects (Focus Africa)

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

PDRA for two economic development research projects, principal focus Africa
Overseas Development Institute
Location: Cambridge project office
Salary: £30,000 - £33,000
Placed on: 19 November
Closes on: 5 December

About ODI
Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is an independent think tank with more than 240 staff. Established in 1960, ODI is non-partisan, non-profit and evidence-driven.

About the projects
ODI is hosting a research project under author and Senior Visiting Fellow Joe Studwell, the key output of which will be a popular book on the state of economic development in Africa. The project combines academic rigour with accessible, impactful writing to reach a wide audience and is funded by Omidyar Network and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In addition, Joe Studwell in collaboration with James Putzel, Professor of Development Studies at the London School of Economics, is undertaking path-finding archival research in the United States in the archives of Wolf Ladejinksy and colleagues who were instrumental in post-Second World War land reforms in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The outputs will be one or more peer-reviewed academic papers and an extended magazine article reaching a wide audience.

The projects require a PDRA (applicants without a doctorate who can demonstrate required experience and research capabilities will be considered) for a 12-month contract involving, approximately, nine months’ work on the Africa book and two months’ on the Ladejinsky archives.

What are we looking for?
The successful candidate will lead the identification and analysis of data sets in support of the Africa project. As well as working with Joe Studwell to hone arguments, and present data to support those arguments, the PDRA will contribute blogs to ODI’s web site highlighting, and providing evidence about, major policy issues covered in the research work. The contribution to the Ladejinsky research will be a combination of reviews of recent secondary literature and identification of archives, and archival research itself. The position will be based at the project office in a University of Cambridge college; there is some budget available for travel to Africa and the United States.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to both participate in an impactful project in the development policy arena and contribute to and co-author one or more peer-reviewed articles. (The Africa research may also give rise to one or more peer-reviewed papers.) Candidates should note that the position is that of a freelance sub-contractor to ODI, not an employee. Further information can be obtained from

The 12-month contract includes one month of paid holiday. There are no other benefits.

Key capabilities

  • The most important area of capability for a successful candidate will be data identification, management and analysis in support of the Africa research
  • The most important area of background knowledge will be relevant policy debates in development economics.
  • A grounding in agricultural economics would be a major plus.
  • Experience with different African economies would be helpful.
  • Experience writing for a general, as well as academic, audience would be helpful.
  • The successful candidate must be a self-starter, able to pursue a research agenda based on questions to be answered rather than specified tasks.

How to apply
Please send a cv and covering letter explaining your suitability for the position to  A shortlist of candidates will be interviewed in the week beginning 17 December with the role commencing in January.