Data Management Research Associate (PSA)

Data Management Research Associate (PSA)

Published Deadline Location
13 Oct 30 Dec Maastricht

Job description

Role Purpose:

To build up the inaugural team for the Lab, we are looking for highly motivated candidates who are eager to co-develop and drive its ambitious data-and information-driven research agenda as Research Fellow (2 P-3 positions) or Research Associate (4 PSA positions). All vacancy texts can be found on the UNU website

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:

1.  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

2.  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

3.  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

4.  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

5.  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

6.  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

7. 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

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: the initial contract is 1 year.

The successful candidate will be employed under a national Personal Service Agreement (PSA) Contract. UNU offers an attractive gross annual salary, commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the candidate. Benefits include 30 days annual leave. PSA holders are required to enroll in the Dutch national health insurance system.

UNU is not liable for any taxes that may be levied on the remuneration you receive under this contract. Payment of any such taxes remains the sole responsibility of PSA holders.

Duration of contract

The duration of the initial contract is 1 year. This is Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance. The combined duration on a PSA contract with UNU may not exceed six (6) years. The mandatory age of retirement for PSA holders is 65 years.

Expected start date:

 01 January 2023 or sooner


About UN University (UNU)

The United Nations University (UNU) is an international community of scholars engaged in policy-oriented research, capacity development and dissemination of knowledge, furthering the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. UNU’s mission is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations and its Member States.

For the past four decades, United Nations University (UNU) has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on human survival, conflict prevention, sustainable development and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 12 countries, UNU’s work spans the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe.


The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT)

The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) is a research and training institute of the United Nations University (UNU) based in Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands, closely collaborating with Maastricht University (UM).

Through its research agenda on ‘Comprehensive Innovation for Sustainable Development' (CI4SD), UNU-MERIT aims to generate new knowledge on the intricate nature and role of innovation in complex social-economic-technological settings, to translate this knowledge into new methods, tools, policies and governance structures, and to educate and train students, researchers and policymakers to assimilate, apply and implement these new insights. For more information on UNU-MERIT and our work, please visit

UNU-MERIT’s Computational Innovation Lab on Crises, Transformation and Sustainable Development

UNU-MERIT is in the process of establishing a Computational Innovation Lab as a new institutional expertise centre on data, AI and computational modelling to strengthen UNU-MERIT’s strategic agenda on comprehensive innovation for sustainable development (CI4SD). Drawing upon the research expertise of the institute, the Lab’s mission is to provide actionable data and computational models for research, education and policymaking on CI4SD.

The Lab’s focus is on the contribution of data, AI and computational models to understand the impacts of significant disruptions such as crises and systemic shocks on ‘the green transformation’ and sustainable development. Such disruptions may be caused by conflict, natural disasters, health crises or major changes in technologies, institutions and markets.

The green transformation aims to bring the economy within the limits of planetary boundaries while ensuring economic and societal progress for the current and future generations. In this context, research in the lab aims to contribute to our understanding of how transformative innovation can contribute to sustainable development goals while responding and adapting to crises and shocks, given diverse institutional and governance landscapes.

For example, how do crises such as extreme climate events (floods and heat waves) impact socio-economic outcomes regarding distributional consequences and between countries and regions e.g., between the global north and south? How do the war in Ukraine and the green transformation affect labour market outcomes, e.g., what are the jobs and occupations that will accompany a green transformation that is resilient against shocks? How does the transformation of global production networks, arising from concerns about carbon footprints (or by protectionist policies in lead markets) affect suppliers in the Global South? How can transformative innovation initiatives mitigate the negative consequences? Can shocks and crises, while entailing short-term adaptation and action, also open unexpected opportunities for longer-term structural change (‘opportunity in crises’)?

The Lab’s research agenda thus focuses on the complex interplay between major disruptions, systemic shocks, green transformation, and sustainable development. Research in the Computational Innovation Lab will have strong empirical grounding, using real-world data and case studies. The resulting data, information and models will be made available on a new data analysis platform, accessible to researchers within UNU-MERIT and globally.

Additional information

How to Apply:

To apply to UNU, you will not need an account. Instead, we ask that you:

  • Apply via the apply link;
  • fill out the UNU P11 form (please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organisations);
  • provide a motivation statement (in the P11 form); and
  • answer a few questions that are tailored to the position.

You may wish to refer to the UN Values and Behaviours Framework for more information.

Application Deadline: 30 October 2022



Evaluation of qualified candidates may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview, background checks and references.

Special notice
PSA holders do no hold international civil servant status nor are they considered a “staff member” as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations.

UNU is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities to apply and become part of the organization. Applications from developing countries, and from women are strongly encouraged. Eligible internal applicants are also encouraged to apply.

UNU has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNU, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination.

Information about UNU rosters
UNU reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement. We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNU.

Scam warning
UNU does not charge any application, processing, training, interviewing, testing or other fee in connection with the application or recruitment process. Should you receive a solicitation for the payment of a fee, please disregard it. Furthermore, please note that emblems, logos, names and addresses are easily copied and reproduced. Therefore, you are advised to apply particular care when submitting personal information on the web.


  • Research, development, innovation; Education; IT; Policy and staff; Management; Technical and laboratory
  • Engineering; Natural sciences; Behaviour and society
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • AT UN 202210-3


Boschstraat 24, 6211 AX, Maastricht

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Application procedure

This application process is managed by the employer (UNU-MERIT). Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Application procedure

Application procedure

This application process is managed by the employer (UNU-MERIT). Please contact the employer for questions regarding your application.

Make sure to apply no later than 30 Dec 2022 23:58 (Europe/Amsterdam).