Research Assistant

Vacancy Details

Makerere University School of Public Health(MakSPH) in collaboration with the University of Stirling(UoS) of United Kingdom (UK) as the lead (and partners University of Malawi, South Africa MRC , the University of Cape Town and the University of Edinburgh)  has received funding from Medical Research to conduct a two-year study entitled “Regulating alcohol packaging and supply to protect health in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from policy systems in Malawi and Uganda-RAPSSA”. The study aims to understand the adoption and formulation of the sachet and small plastic bottles/single use containers (SUC) bans, what mechanisms for implementation were proposed and put in place, how the bans were enforced in practice, as well as stakeholder and public perceptions of, and explanations for, intended and unintended consequences of the bans. Furthermore, the study will explore contextual factors important for the transferability of findings to other Sub-Saharan countries, in order to inform alcohol policy development and implementation across the region.

MakSPH seeks to recruit a curious, committed and motivated Research Assistant to work on this project. They will help conduct documentary analysis and qualitative interviews and focus group discussions. The successful candidate will work as part of a multi-disciplinary, multilingual, and multi-institution research team with colleagues from Malawi, Uganda, and the UK. The Research Assistant is expected to organize data collection, collect and analyze data, draft reports and articles and contribute to the dissemination of findings, as well as all undertake all other administrative duties required for the study. Training on qualitative research methods and analysis to be used in the project will be provided through an online programme, and ongoing capacity building and mentoring will be offered.  There may be the potential to become involved in developing future research proposals. This post could be seen as a stepping stone to developing a career in Alcohol Policy research or other areas of Public health research.

Job Title: Research Assistant

Main role: The research assistant will work in collaboration with the Ugandan study Co-investigator and the Principal investigator. The post will involve working with the project team to undertake documentary research and analysis as well as qualitative research with a range of stakeholders at National, District level (including Government officials, parliamentarians etc.) and with community members in Uganda (in Wakiso and Gulu). Data collection methods will include Key informant interviews and focus groups discussion to explore community members’ experiences of the ban, of regulating alcohol packaging and supply in the protection of health.

Duties Description

The Research Assistant will conduct all the duties described below.

  • To participate in a a bespoke programme of training on the methods to be used in this study
  • Organise all aspects of data collection (recruiting participants, gaining consent, arranging and conducting the interviews or focus groups). For the documentary analysis, to research and analyse all documentation (e.g. policies, legal documents and court cases, some media outputs)
  • Liaise with relevant stakeholders in the study sites (community representatives, government representatives, policymakers, traditional authority representatives, academics, NGOs, faith leaders, and others as required), and to help maintain ongoing contacts with stakeholders throughout the study
  • Be responsible for arranging transcription and translation (and will undertake a small number of transcriptions/ translations)
  • Code and analyse the transcribed data (using Nvivo software for which training will be provided) and share the preliminary analysis with the international team.
  • Be responsible for the secure storage and management of the data gathered and transcribed, in accordance with the data protection policy of MakSPH and the University of Stirling.
  • Will take part in team meetings and supervision, as well as peer learning sessions organized by the research team in Malawi, Uganda, and the UK.
  • Will be expected to work with the international team to write up findings in the form of reports and articles (including any first author publications). Further training on academic writing will be provided by the Team
  •  Involvement in research team meetings, seminars, and conferences will also be expected (including overseas)
  • There may be opportunities to contribute to the development of future funding proposals.
  • Perform all administrative duties required for the study

Contract Duration

The appointment is valid for one-year renewable on availability of funds and satisfaction of performance

Person Specification


  • Educated to Master’s degree level in a relevant discipline within Health or Social Sciences (e.g. public health, social policy, nursing, social work, medicine, pharmacy, and other disciplines)
  • A valid certificate in Good Clinical Practice


  • Ability to travel to other districts i.e. (Wakiso and Gulu) and, here required, to other parts of Africa. Public transport costs will be reimbursed for travel to these areas. Accommodation will be also reimbursed if overnight stays are necessary.
  • Evidence of being able to conduct research independently
  • Experience in conducting qualitative research or similar policy public health research work that involved data-gathering, discussion, and establishing rapport with members of the community
  • Data analysis skills

Essential Skills and Attitude

  • Some experience of qualitative research and data collection
  • Self-starter, able to work independently, to self-direct their learning,
  •  pro-active, who can use their own initiative,
  • ability to use time effectively (during busy periods as well as quieter periods).
  • Proven ability to establish rapport and interact effectively with project participants, stakeholders, and colleagues
  • Excellent inter-personal skills with stakeholders at all level (from Government officials to community members)
  • Evidence of good administrative and project management skills
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Good IT and computing skills
  • Time management skills including the ability to prioritize workload
  • Trustworthy and reliable
  • Experience in recruiting participants into qualitative research studies (familiarity with issues of ethics and informed consent)
  • Fluent in English and Luganda
  • Knowledge of alcohol policy and/or current issues in alcohol harm and use
  • Ability to travel to other districts (Gulu) by either own car or public transport; and, where required, to project meetings in other parts of Africa.

Desirable criteria

  • Knowledge of current issues in alcohol policy and alcohol-related research
  • Experience in qualitative research and analysing qualitative data
  • Experience in working in multi-disciplinary academic teams or with multi-country teams
  • Experience in working on multi-institution projects
  • Skilled in translating and interpreting
  • Experience in academic writing and conference presentation

Submission of application

Interested persons should submit their application including copies of academic documents and updated curriculum vitae stating at least two referees. These should be addressed to the Dean School of Public Health, Makerere University. Please provide reliable 24-hour phone contact and WhatsApp line if different.  Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interviews.


Deliver the application to MaKSPH reception desk. The envelop with the application should be labeled- Application for Research Assistant position on RAPSSA project (Regulating alcohol packaging and supply to protect health in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from policy systems in Malawi and Uganda).


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