Job Opportunity for Research Associate – Madhya Pradesh Police Project (Scale-up) at Poverty Action Lab

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Website Poverty Action Lab

Job Description

Building a responsive police force is a major challenge facing India and is critical to citizen security, justice and the rule of law. This project addresses this challenge by analyzing the impact of women’s-centered police reforms in the state of Madhya Pradesh (MP). The MP Police Department instituted a reform program across the state of MP (starting in April 2021) to establish Women’s Help Desks (WHDs). The WHD program provides dedicated desks and training of officers to address crimes against women in all police stations where they are instituted. The MP Police Department is collaborating with researchers from University of Virginia and University of Oxford to study the organizational behavior of the police and assess the impact of the scaled-up WHD program. The research team has previously worked with the MP Police Department to conduct a mixed-methods study (randomized controlled trial + qualitative research) on setting up the WHDs between 2018 and 2020, promising results from which have informed the policy for scaling up the WHD program across the state.

This research project investigates whether and how institutional reforms can lead to more responsive policing for women by analyzing the impact of the WHD program. In so doing, we also seek to understand the wider organizational context of policing, drawing on the resources, routines and everyday practices of police officers. How do the organizational characteristics of the police color the implementation of the WHD program? Does the WHD program encourage more women to report cases to the police, for example, by altering how officers prioritize such cases? How does the deployment of female officers impact police behavior vis-à-vis women? Does the institution of a Women’s Help Desk have spillover effects to other areas of police activity? Does the WHD program alter citizens’ perceptions of and trust in the police? In addition, the research also seeks to understand how the scale-up program compares with the previously conducted study along the themes of intervention persistence and deepening over time, and broadening and spillovers over space.

The Research Associate will be engaged in an intensive, field-based study of the Help Desk program within a sample of (6-8) police stations. The primary aim is to trace the implementation process of the scaled-up Help Desk program over a period of several months and to analyze its impact comparatively across police stations. Using multiple field research methods, including interviews of police officers, station-level observations and focus group discussions of citizens, we will seek to gain a deeper understanding of the organizational context of policing and how this conditions the efficacy of the Women’s Help Desk program and its concurrence with the previously established Help Desks as part of the research done between 2018 and 2021. 

Position details

The position is based out of Madhya Pradesh and the particular field sites are to be determined. The RA will be required to reside in Madhya Pradesh full-time for the duration of the study (January 2023 – December 2023).

The RA will work closely with Researchers to ensure quality of interviews and documentation, including participating in weekly supervisory calls.

Duties and responsibilities

  • The primary responsibility of the Research Associate (RA) is to carry out and document the in-depth, qualitative field study of a selected number of police stations. 
  • The Research Associate will be assigned a set of police stations (6-8) within Madhya Pradesh, and will develop a schedule of regular field visits to these police stations (visiting each station roughly twice per month)
  • For each assigned police station, the RA will:

o   Carry out in-person interviews following a semi-closed questionnaire

o   Take careful notes during interviews

o   Transcribe notes, following established project documentation protocols

o   Content analysis of interviews

o   Conduct police station-level observations, focusing on the Help Desk Program

o   Observe and carefully record the routine practices of the police in handling incoming cases

o   Take careful notes of incoming cases for the Help Desk

o   Document follow-up procedures and services administered by the Help Desk

o   Carry out time use analysis with selected police officers, using time use diaries, to be administered in-person

o   Carry out interviews of senior police officers in the study district, following semi-closed questionnaires

o   Carry out focus group discussions of citizens drawn from the catchment areas of the selected police stations, following semi-closed questionnaires

o   In-depth documentation and follow-up on particular cases of interest


  • Fluency in Hindi (required; native speakers preferred)
  • Proficiency in English (required)
  • Social science background (B.A. or higher; in-progress degrees will be considered)
  • Prior fieldwork experience (required)
  • Qualitative research skills in interviewing and/or focus group discussions (highly desired)
  • Willingness to travel within assigned state (required)

Note on Work Authorizations: Candidates must have work authorization to work in India. This covers citizens of India, Nepal, or Bhutan, Persons of Indian origin (PIO), and an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI).

About J-PAL South Asia

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) J-PAL was established in 2003 as a research center at the Economics Department at MIT. Since then, it has grown into a global network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty. J-PAL is propelled by a first-rate team dedicated to research, policy, training, and other vital work, supporting J-PAL’s mission to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence.

 J-PAL South Asia, which is based at the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) in India, analyses and disseminates research results and builds partnerships with policymakers to ensure that policy is driven by evidence, and that programs proven effective are scaled up. We have a growing number of partnerships in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Application requirements

1.     Statement of purpose

2.     CV

3.     Transcripts

4.     Writing sample/ field notes sample

5.     Recommendations will be required from shortlisted candidates

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