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Research Assistant

Title: Research Assistant (Temporary, Independent Contractor)

Location: Remote

Salary range: $40/hour

Reporting to: Research Manager


Role Overview

First Draft is a global nonprofit with a mission to empower societies with accurate information in critical moments. Through partnerships with news, research, technology and civil society organizations, we work to ensure the integrity of the world’s information ecosystem. We host a global verification and collaborative investigation network through our CrossCheck initiative, work with our expanding community to conduct innovative and experimental research projects, and develop online and offline training designed to expand and embed best practices in newsrooms and journalism schools around the world.

We are seeking a Research Assistant to join our US team as an independent contractor on a temporary basis, working 40 hours per week for up to three months (to begin immediately). The Research Assistant will work with First Draft’s Executive Director, Research Manager and other staff as part of an ongoing research project aimed at mapping vaccine narratives and misinformation in Black and Latinx communities in the US. Specifically, the Research Assistant will provide support with researching and writing a report (the Research Assistant will receive a byline) to be published by First Draft and distributed to journalists and policy makers across the US. The Research Assistant will interact with First Draft employees as well as journalists and community leaders from Black and Latinx communities around the US. 

The Research Assistant will:

  • In conjunction with First Draft’s Research Manager and other First Draft researchers, design and create a piece of qualitative research, including a literature review and in-depth interviews, aimed at understanding the vaccine narratives affecting Black and Latinx communities across the US, their origins, how they spread and the contextual factors that may help explain their prominence. 
  • Design and conduct in-depth interviews with journalists and leaders from relevant communities (not social media posts) to support the research and analysis; identify interview subjects and develop questions to elicit useful responses and information.
  • Co-produce a final report based on the research. 
  • Develop and produce original written and multimedia coverage based on results from the research.
  • Contribute to the design and distribution of a survey (n=500) aimed at understanding the key data deficits related to vaccines affecting relevant communities as well as the information consumption habits of those communities. 
  • Develop relationships with organizations including newsrooms, community leaders and academics to facilitate research and interviews.
  • Maintain expertise in misinformation/disinformation, journalism standards and organizational policies relevant to the role.
  • Additional duties as assigned.

Essential Skills and Experience

The ideal candidate is either currently working on or has completed a postgraduate degree in communications, media studies, race and ethnic studies, anthropology, human geography or a related field and has these skills and experience:

  • A deep understanding of mis- and disinformation, specifically health misinformation. 
  • Experience with qualitative research techniques, such as grounded theory, ethnography, narrative research, etc.
  • Experience conducting in-depth and semi-structured interviews as well as focus groups.
  • Experience conducting qualitative research and delivering reports/studies based on this research. 
  • The ability to autonomously develop, realize and write up large pieces of research.
  • Excellent standard of both written and spoken communications in English.
  • An understanding of the online information landscape and concepts of information disorder.
  • Awareness of the ethical standards and practices associated with conducting qualitative research on sensitive issues and the responsible handling of mis- and disinformation.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of US politics and history, including the history of medicine in Black and Latinx communities.
  • Must be authorized to work in the US.

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Experience working with and/or conducting research in Black and Latinx communities. 
  • Considerable experience conducting qualitative research (candidate must be able to provide published reports/studies as evidence of research experience). 
  • Experience with qualitative data analysis software. 
  • Experience using Python or R to conduct analysis on qualitative data. 
  • Experience using NLP tools for content analysis. 
  • A strong grasp of the Spanish language and the ability to conduct in-depth interviews in Spanish.

To Apply

Please email your resume and cover letter to Justin Ross, Operations Director, at [email protected] with the subject line “Research Assistant.”

Recruitment Policy

First Draft is working to build a diverse and inclusive team in each of our locations. We do not discriminate based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, identity or lifestyle. We actively encourage applications from people who may traditionally face barriers to entering the fields of journalism, research, product design and training, such as access to education or work experience.

Successful applicants will be offered a temporary contractor position based on their demonstrable knowledge, skills and interest in our work and overall mission. All First Draft employees and contractors will be expected to take an active role in maintaining a positive and supportive work environment, as part of a proud, unified, considerate and respectful team. Examples of this are a willingness to support and encourage the professional development of colleagues alongside your own, and an openness to listen to and accept suggestions and criticism in an often challenging and high-pressure environment.

First Draft prioritizes the welfare of its staff and contractors and actively promotes the awareness and prevention of vicarious trauma and other mental and physical illness associated with researching distressing content, and the long-term impact of sedentary or solitary working.