Principal Researcher (Evaluation)

Nesta Principal Researcher
Location London, UK
Application deadline 27 April 2021
Contract type Permanent
Hours Full-time
Salary Circa GBP49,000 plus excellent benefits
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We are Nesta. The UK’s innovation agency for social good. We confront challenges that affect millions of people, from inequality and ill-health to the climate crisis.

We believe that innovation offers more potential now than ever before. We see opportunities to mobilise citizens and influence behaviour. Private and public capital that can be used more creatively. A wealth of data to mine. And so we draw on these rich resources by bringing together diverse teams. Data scientists, designers and behavioural scientists. Practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs and people with lived experience.

Together, we design, test and scale new solutions to society’s biggest problems. We partner with frontline organisations, build new businesses and work to change whole systems. Harnessing the rigour of science and the creativity of design, we work relentlessly to put new ideas to the test.

The role

The Principal Researcher (Evaluation) will work in a small, focussed team, responsible for supporting Nesta’s Missions to deliver projects to a high standard. This will involve designing and undertaking, but also at times commissioning robust, cost-effective evaluations of Nesta projects, and for monitoring and supporting commissioned research groups to ensure that they are delivered to a high standard.

Key roles and responsibilities

  • Design and run robust, cost-effective impact evaluations of Nesta projects – including Randomised Controlled Trials and Quasi-Experimental Designs.
  • Critically review evaluation proposals to ensure proposed designs are high quality and cost-effective.
  • Ensure that all evaluations consider ethics and data protection legislation in undertaking experimental research.
  • Liaise with and between relevant teams to ensure the project evaluations are set up effectively, the practical issues involved in delivering evaluations are communicated timely and solutions are found to issues that arise.
  • Develop but also conduct technical reviews of trial protocols and study plans, statistical analysis plans and trial reports, and contribute to development of relevant templates and processes for Nesta-wide use.
  • Manage Nesta-led evaluations, oversee evaluation budgets, implement evaluation plans (incl. data collection and analysis), clarifying and promoting best practice in conducting credible and informative research.
  • Assist the Mission teams with communication of evaluation findings, championing scientific transparency of our work.
  • Undertake other duties which may from time to time be requested by the Director of Evidence and Experimentation.
  • Line manage Senior Researcher (s)

Experience and skills


  • Strong understanding of technical aspects of evaluation methodologies (randomised controlled trials, non-experimental designs, choice of outcome measurement, etc.) and an ability to generate and identify high quality evaluation plans and reports
  • First-hand experience of running trials
  • Strong quantitative data analysis skills relating to impact evaluation and good knowledge of statistical software packages (such as Stata)
  • Skilled at interpreting and presenting statistical data (incl. for non-specialist audiences), and have a sense of how to embed statistical data within the context of a broader qualitative analysis of results
  • Experience of applied research in a quantitative social science discipline such as economics, statistics or health-related subject
  • Ability to manage relationships and communicate effectively with practitioners, academics and policy makers
  • Strong organisational and project management skills
  • Experience of working in a busy environment with the proven ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to work independently with strong attention to detail and commitment to fact checking own work
  • High levels of initiative and willingness to take responsibility for their own workload and professional developmen


  • Experience working in a mission area of social policy
  • Understanding of UK innovation context and appreciation of social policy (rather than say pure medical health)

The main responsibilities of this role are as described here. As our needs as a charity change, we may need to make reasonable changes from time to time, in consultation with you.