Research Specialist (Digital), Florence, Italy At UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund

Closing date: Sunday, 23 July 2023

Research Specialist (Digital), P3, Florence, Italy, # 125554, 364-day Temporary Appointment

Job no: 563861

Position type: Temporary Appointment

Location: Italy Division/Equivalent: Programme

School/Unit: Florence, Italy

Department/Office: Innocenti-Global Off Research &Foresight

Categories: Child Protection, Research, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, answers.

Digital technology is a key driver of change and underpins the realization of several Sustainable Development Goals. Access to digital technology can be an important enabler for young people to develop the skills and literacies necessary to achieve learning objectives and to prepare for an increasingly digitalized economy. At the same time, internet access may compound existing risks to children that, unless managed, could undermine their well-being. In order to develop appropriate policy and program responses, UNICEF and other child rights organizations need robust evidence on how children use the internet, including the many opportunities the internet affords them and the risks they may face online.

To improve the global evidence base and support UNICEF’s advocacy, programming and policy development for the future, UNICEF Innocenti – Global Office of Research and Foresight has been conducting research on children’s use of digital technology for the past 8 years. The office continually contributes to UNICEF’s internal discussions, reports, and global debates on a range issues for children in the digital world, such as the impact of technology on children’s mental health, privacy and data protection regulation, parenting in the digital age, online violence, digital skills development, the impact of online gaming on children’s rights, and social media use and well-being. As part of its core mandate, the office provides UNICEF with technical support, training, research design, implementation, cross-national data analysis, convening and dissemination opportunities.

As the unit on Digital Engagement and Protection at the Global Office of Research and Foresight continues to grow due to increasing demand for evidence from within and outside the organization, there is need for additional staff to strengthen the team’s capacity to respond. The unit is in need of a qualitative Research Specialist to manage all qualitative research under the Disrupting Harm project.

How can you make a difference?

Under the guidance and general supervision of the Research Manager (Digital Technology & Children), the Specialist supports the implementation of the qualitative research of the unit, undertaken in the context of the Disrupting Harm research project (2019-2025).

The Specialist is responsible for managing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the progress of all qualitative research undertaken for the Disrupting Harm project.

Summary of key functions/accountabilities:

1. Managing qualitative research design, research implementation, and data analysis/writing for the Disrupting Harm project 2. Research management, training, monitoring, and progress updates 3. Networking and partnership building

1. Managing qualitative research design, implementation, and data analysis/writing for the Disrupting Harm project

  •  Lead on the implementation of multi-country, national-level qualitative research with children, frontline professionals and survivors of online sexual exploitation and abuse, to ensure that current and comprehensive data on children’s experiences of living in a digital age are available to guide UNICEF and Government policy, advocacy, interventions and other development efforts.
  •  Lead the development of coding frames and data analysis protocols, data management and data analysis, producing concrete results and new outputs that can inform the work of UNICEF and the global community.
  •  Help supervisor set priorities, strategies, research designs and implementation plans for the overarching Disrupting Harm project. Work closely and collaboratively with internal colleagues and external partners to discuss strategies and priorities.
  •  Participate in strategic programme discussions on the planning of future Disrupting Harm project activities.
  •  Formulate, design and prepare research proposals for the unit to expand Disrupting Harm qualitative research into new areas, ensuring alignment with UNICEF’s Strategic Plan, and coherence/integration with regional strategies and national priorities, plans and competencies.
  •  Provide technical and operational support throughout all stages of research and ensure integration, coherence and harmonization of programmes/projects with other UNICEF sectors and achievement of results as planned and allocate

2. Research management, training, monitoring and progress updates

  •  Plan and collaborate with internal colleagues and external partners to manage ongoing qualitative research under the Disrupting Harm project.
  •  Prepare and assess monitoring and evaluation reports to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses in research management. Identify lessons learned and use knowledge gained to improve planning and execution of future research projects.
  •  Actively monitor programmes/projects through training, field visits and dialogue with partners, and exchange information with stakeholders to assess progress, identify bottlenecks and potential problems, and take timely decisions to resolve issues and/or refer to relevant officials for timely resolution.
  •  Prepare regular and mandated programme reports for management, donors and partners to keep them informed of programme progress.

3. Networking and partnership building

  •  Build and sustain effective close working partnerships with the Disrupting Harm research partners, relevant government counterparts, country offices, national stakeholders, global partners, donors, and academia through active networking, advocacy and effective communication to build capacity, exchange knowledge/expertise and to reinforce cooperation.
  •  Prepare communication and information materials for UNICEF’s advocacy, to promote awareness, establish partnerships and support fund raising for research programmes or programmatic activities related to Digital Engagement and Protection.

Technical competencies must be demonstrated in the following areas:

  •  Excellent understanding of how to design and implement qualitative research with children and adults; including knowledge about research ethics and how to design safeguarding protocols.
  •  Good understanding of how to conduct researcher training, data analysis and report on findings to diverse audiences; including government, other policy makers, country offices, the general public and internally.
  •  Knowledge of global developments in online sexual exploitation and abuse and the latest trends in evidence on this topic.
  •  Good ability to support engagement with partners both internal to UNICEF and externally, including giving presentations or representing the work in public fora.
  •  Some ability to support policy dialogue: translation of analytical findings and evidence into development programme and policy discussions with partners, including government, development partners, civil society organizations and academia in relevant areas.
  •  Some research management experience, including research design, planning, costing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and reporting.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have:

Advanced university degree in international development, human rights, psychology, sociology, international law, or another relevant social science field.

PhD in a relevant discipline is considered a strong asset.

A minimum of five years of professional experience in research is required.

Experience designing and implementing qualitative research in low- and middle-income settings, including training of researchers, is required.

Experience analyzing, writing about, and publishing on qualitative data is required.

Experience with research on online child sexual exploitation and abuse is required.

Experience of mixed-methods research is considered as an asset.

Experience working in a developing country is considered as an asset.

Relevant experience in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.

Fluency in English is required.

Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or Italian is an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate:

UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability and Sustainability (CRITAS) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: UNICEF Values

UNICEF competencies required for this post are:

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is here to serve the world’s most disadvantaged children and our global workforce must reflect the diversity of those children. The UNICEF family is committed to include everyone, irrespective of their race/ethnicity, age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, socio-economic background, or any other personal characteristic. We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements. UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF is committed to promote the protection and safeguarding of all children. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks, and will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance. Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments are also subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (Covid). Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

Advertised: Jul 10 2023 W. Europe Daylight Time

Application close: Jul 23 2023 W. Europe Daylight Time

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  •  Closes Jul 23 2023Research Specialist (Digital), P3, Florence, Italy, # 125554, 364-day Temporary Appointment in Italy

    We are seeking to recruit a Research Specialist to lead the full implementation of three distinct qualitative research projects in each of 12 countries for UNICEF Innocenti’s Disrupting Harm project, and support integration of qualitative research into the overall project outputs. Key tasks include being responsible for recruitment and management of national data collection teams, training interviewers, producing coding frames and data analysis protocols, procure translation services, support development of ethical clearance protocols, analyze and write up data together with national and global partners, collaborate with project partners and donors, and support dissemination of results to key audiences, including governments. The Research Specialist will also be expected to support the Digital Engagement and Protection unit with additional tasks as needed, including writing new research outputs, donor proposals or communications products.


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