Data Management Research Associate

United Nations University

Maastricht, Netherlands

Experience: 3 to 5 Years

Skill Required :

The Data Management Research Associates are expected to contribute to the Lab’s research program, a role that will include working under the supervision of the Lab’s Research Fellows, supporting other junior researchers and PhD Fellows at UNU-MERIT, interacting with researchers from the two research units of UNU-MERIT, and actively contribute to funding acquisition efforts for the Lab’s activities. The expected outputs of this work include contributions to research articles in high-impact journals, policy reports with partner institutions, stakeholder workshops, conferences, and high-level presentations to government officials. Candidates should be comfortable in actively engaging with practitioners and policy makers on real-world cases. This requires a strong motivation to understand the context of policy problems, and to work with various – often heterogeneous or incomplete – types of data at the micro, meso and macro level.

The new Lab will be formally launched in Spring 2023. In the pre-launch phase of the Lab, the inaugural team of Computational Innovation Lab Research Fellows and Associates will co-create with UNU-MERIT staff a strategy for data analytics, information management and the data analysis platform design. This strategy will identify and prioritize ideas and initial projects to maximize impact, visibility and partnerships for the institute.


Under the overall supervision of the Director of the institute, the Data Manegement Research Associate undertakes research and outreach activities in support of the institute’s Strategic Plan. The Research Associate’s responsibilities include the following:

Data Management:

  • Develop and manage data tools; collate, check and verify data from different sources internally and externally
  • Understand, document, and ensure the quality of data for accuracy, consistency and comparability

Spatial Data Analysis & Geographic information Systems (GIS):

  • Organize, design and carry out the evaluation and analysis of spatial datasets through meaningful statistical techniques to assess progress on e.g., climate governance, green transformation and economic growth, SDGs, migration, social protection, and humanitarian disasters
  • Produce and update high-quality map products and online services
  • Maintain a repository of spatial data and interface with the platform to ensure that the data are documented and accessible

Assist in the creation of indicator models:

  • Participate in the design, development, implementation, and management of new indicator models, together with their accompanying data, to track green transformation policies and governance and their impact on sustainable development at different spatial scales
  • Validate different indicator models and test the sensitivity of results towards the chosen approach (e.g., hierarchical, PCA), data uncertainty, and aggregation techniques

Data stewardship:

  • Provide advice to researchers of the institute on data collection, storage, sharing and interoperability
  • Support survey or assessment design to ensure data quality and interoperability
  • Manage platforms and tools that support data collection, storage and analysis such as KoBo Toolbox and Open Data Kit (ODK)
  • Support coordination of data collection activities across the institute

Data partnerships:

  • Support the development of partnerships with UN agencies and relevant organizations
  • Establish data pipelines from relevant platforms and collect and collate data
  • Support funding acquisition

Data visualization:

  • Produce and update information products such as reports, charts and infographics by turning data into graphical products
  • Develop advocacy materials including posters, presentations and other visual materials
  • Perform other tasks as assigned by supervisor

Key performance indicators:

  • Timely and quality delivery of database analysis
  • Timely and quality delivery of data tools and models
  • Timely and quality delivery of other outputs (dissemination, advice, etc.)
  • Timely and quality delivery of inputs to curated fundraising opportunities
  • Quality and level of engagement with other researchers, teams, consultants, and partners
  • Quality and level of engagement with partners, related networks and working groups


Education and certification:

  • An advanced university degree (Master's degree or equivalent, with a preference for a PhD) in information management, data analytics or related field.

Experience and other requirements:


  • A minimum of three (3) years of progressively responsible experience in data or information management, geographic information systems & mapping, data visualization, or other related area
  • Programming skills and experience in coding algorithms (Python, R or an equivalent programming environment), data collection (e.g., KoBo), access, analysis and data visualization (e.g. Arc-GIS) methodologies for various data types and formats
  • Experience in outreach and training activities with students, researchers or policymakers
  • Demonstrated experience in conducting independent research and analysis
  • Good team player with strong interpersonal skills demonstrated by the ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity
  • Professionalism, flexibility and ability to work to realistic deadlines, creative thinking, results driven, foreseeing risks and allowing for contingencies when planning


  • Experience working in multidisciplinary projects between data / innovation and sustainable development / climate change / humanitarian response
  • Knowledge and experience in addressing societal and policy challenges in the field of (humanitarian) crises, the green transformation or sustainable development
  • Experience in developing information products to communicate relevant insights to different (societal and policy) stakeholders in different formats (e.g., reports, websites or web-based applications)
  • Experience in supporting funding acquisition

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English
  • Knowledge of another UN official working language is an asset, as is knowledge of Dutch.