Research Associate, PolicyWISE


11th June 2023

PolicyWISE is the first and only academic initiative to lead comparative policy research and knowledge exchange across the nations of the UK and Ireland, partnering policymakers and academics in and across each nation to solve policy challenges.

PolicyWISE is led and hosted from The Open University working with partner universities in each of the UK nations and the Republic of Ireland, and with policymakers and policy professionals in the respective governments across the UK and Ireland. PolicyWISE has formed across 2022, with a new professional and research team established at the beginning of 2023. This team will shape, drive and deliver PolicyWISE’s strategy and operations.

PolicyWISE is led by a Director, Dewi Knight, and the Research Associate post will be a key member of the new PolicyWISE team. The post holder will manage PolicyWISE’s core comparative policy research offering. This will include identifying needs and research projects, delivering research independently, in collaboration with partners or commissioning additional academic resource to support PolicyWISE capacity. The post holder will require strong interpersonal, stakeholder management and communication skills, in addition to research experience and skills.

The Research Associate will work closely with the PolicyWISE team and university academic colleagues, as well as external partners. They will report to the PolicyWISE Director.

The team is based in Cardiff with hybrid terms and conditions and flexible working patterns, which are a part of The Open University’s normal pattern of operation. The post holder can work remotely dependent on their location or situation, but some travel will be expected. We are also happy to hear from well qualified candidates who would wish to adopt one of the university’s other locations as their office base, and from those who are interested in the role on less than a full-time basis and would discuss with any such candidates how we could accommodate different working patterns.

Key Responsibilities

Identifying, managing, and delivering research

• Identify, deliver, and disseminate comparative policy research that responds to the needs of policy makers across the UK and Ireland.

• Manage processes to identify and evaluate comparative research and knowledge exchange projects.

• Carry out collaborative projects with colleagues in partner institutions, research groups and support capability building within PolicyWISE.

• Develop ideas for generating research income, and present detailed research proposals to senior colleagues.

• Manage own research, administrative activity, and support PolicyWISE’s wider project coordination and management.

• Continually update knowledge and understanding of policy areas and the context in which PolicyWISE engages and use this knowledge to advance research and knowledge exchange activity.

Collaborative and partnership working

• Use initiative and creativity to identify comparative policy issues and areas for research, developing new methods and techniques and sharing insight and ideas with PolicyWISE partners.

• Manage and quality assure work delivered by other colleagues, commissioned on behalf of PolicyWISE.

• Establish and build strong, lasting connections between PolicyWISE and the policymaking and research communities across the UK and Ireland.

• Prepare and author research for publication and disseminate work using new and creative ways to communicate ideas to different audiences.

• Design and facilitate workshops, roundtables, and events with a range of stakeholders.

Building PolicyWISE

• Support the awareness raising of PolicyWISE’s work among policy makers, academics, policy organisations and research networks.

• Contribute to, and engage with, activities that enhance research impact, such as engaging with local and national media and policy organisations.

Skills and Experience


Experience and Knowledge

• EdD or PhD in related subject area.

• Knowledge of current public policy issues across the UK and Ireland.

• Experience conducting research, including evidence of design, implementation, and dissemination, in a policy environment/field.

• Experience of comparative data analysis, including comparative research literacy and systematic reviews.

• A proven ability of engaging with public policy and work collaboratively with practitioners and policy makers.

• Ability to develop and maintain excellent relationships with external stakeholders including civil servants, researchers, opinion formers and others.

• Ability to communicate effectively and persuasively – in writing and in person – with a diverse range of expert and non-expert stakeholders including policymakers.


• Computer literacy and ICT competence.

• Excellent communication skills and experience of delivering to non-expert audiences, ability to produce quality outputs and communicate with academic and non-academic audiences.

• Ability to quickly build contextual competence in unfamiliar topics or policy areas.

• Evidence of an ability to work at pace, producing work to an agreed quality within tight deadlines

• Capable of taking responsibility for own elements of work within a team framework.

• A commitment to, and understanding of, equal opportunities policies and practices.

• A strong record of research and/or knowledge exchange that is commensurate to the position.


• An understanding of the barriers to comparative policy research and knowledge exchange and practical approaches to overcoming them.

• Experience of working in multi-disciplinary environment.

• Experience of managing and collaborating on joint projects with academic peers and/or colleagues.

The Open University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion which is reflected in our mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We aim to foster a diverse and inclusive environment so that all in our OU community can reach their potential.  We recognise that different people bring different perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and culture, and that this difference brings great strength.  We strive to recruit, retain and develop the careers of a diverse pool of students and staff, and particularly encourage applications from all underrepresented groups. We also aspire to make The Open University a supportive workplace for all through our policies, services and staff networks.


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