Seeking a Research Contractor with Transparency and Accountability Expertise

Applications for this position have now closed.

Are you interested in digital tools, but able to keep an intellectual detachment about their effectiveness? And are you free to do contract work in the next few months? If so, read on.

mySociety is looking for a research specialist with experience in transparency and accountability issues. You may be a freelance researcher, or an agency providing research services.

About mySociety and Alaveteli

mySociety is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Our mission is to invent and popularise digital tools that enable citizens to exert power over institutions and decision makers. We are based in the UK, but support partners who deploy our technologies across the globe, in about 20 countries so far.

Shaft of Sunlight by Jenny DowningOne of our most popular tools has been Alaveteli, a tool that enables people to set up powerful freedom of information websites in their own countries. Spun-off from our highly popular UK site WhatDoTheyKnow, Alaveteli enables partners to set up and maintain sites that make it much easier to ask governments questions under Freedom of Information or Right to Information Laws.

What makes the service truly powerful is that it automatically publishes both requests and responses online for other people to see, making the site into a public resource of potentially wide interest – the UK site has about 400,000 visitors a month.

Alaveteli has been widely used in many different jurisdictions. In Hungary, to name just one Alaveteli instance, there have been over 2,000 different FOI requests so far.

Research context

No single activity or approach is enough to bring about a culture of transparency and accountability in a country.

Countries with effective cultures of transparency acquire them slowly, and through a multifaceted process which may include campaigning, coalition building, journalistic scandal discovery, alliance building, protesting, whistleblowing, legal action, political leadership, elections, legislation drafting and media coverage.

Alaveteli is only one tool in the toolkit of modern-day transparency and accountability advocates. We believe it to be a potentially powerful tool, but it remains only one tool. Over the next few years, mySociety wants to do the best we can to help groups around the world to use Alaveteli as an effective aid to social change.

The context for the research is to understand how to position Alaveteli within a wider context of transparency and accountability campaigning. It is a highly action-centric piece of research. Your findings will help us to make decisions about how to help our partners to bring about the changes they want to see in countries outside the UK.

The research contract in more detail

Whilst we will want the successful contractor/consultancy to determine key parts of the research process, there are already certain known constraints and activities.

The contract is for 60-80 working days.
The contractor/consultancy must be able to start work by May 1st 2014, and produce the primary deliverable by 31st August 2014.
The work will consist of both a literature review and practitioner interviews to determine what is known about effective and ineffective transparency and accountability based campaigning across a range of countries.
The primary deliverable for the project is a strategy document that is ready to be consumed and actioned by both mySociety and some of our key Alaveteli-using partners.

After the primary deliverable is complete, we will ask you to help us work directly with at least one new partner, to help them make more effective use of Alaveteli.

More details of the research scope will be made available to applicants.

Minimum Skills and Experience

The individuals engaged in the work will be either working on a PhD in a topic that relates to transparency and accountability, or will already possess such a qualification.

How to apply

Applications for this position have now closed, but thanks for your interest!

Image credit: Jenny Downing