Pakistan >> Palladium Pakistan Pvt Ltd >> Islamabad with travel to other areas of Pakistan

Reality Check Approach (RCA) Research Associate in Pakistan

Palladium Pakistan Pvt Ltd
End Date: 28 Mar, 2018

Location :Islamabad with travel to other areas of Pakistan
Country :Pakistan
Positions :1
Post Type:Job
Job Type :Full Time
Start Date :12 Mar, 2018

ity Background

South Asia’s 340 million adolescents account for almost 20% of the total population in the region. Despite this, governments in South Asia have only recently begun to give due attention to policies addressing issues that specifically affect adolescents, like early marriage, reproductive health, access to education and safe work. In Pakistan, approximately 40 million adolescents are facing the same issues as adolescents globally, further compounded by contextualised religio-cultural, political and social changes.

UNICEF’s ‘Improving Adolescent Lives in South Asia’ is a regional programme across Pakistan, India and Afghanistan to provide information, change the attitudes and behaviour of adolescents, their families and community while also creating an enabling environment for such change to be achieved. To provide granular in-depth insights into annual monitoring of the programme in Pakistan, UNICEF has commissioned the Palladium RCA team to conduct a series of longitudinal qualitative research using the Reality Check Approach (RCA). The longitudinal RCA studies will be conducted once every year for three years (2018-2020) and the insights will provide an evidence base for yearly comparisons of change in knowledge, attitudes and behavior of programme beneficiaries.

 About the Reality Check Approach

RCA is an internationally recognised qualitative research approach combining elements of listening studies and immersion with researchers actually living with people. Researchers stay several days and nights in the homes of study participants to engage with, listen to, observe and ‘hang out’ with a family and the wider community. Sharing in people’s lives helps diminish power distances and builds trust between the researcher and study participants, and provides opportunities to better understand the complexity of people’s experiences and perspectives. Using multiple methods and working in small teams, RCA is able to triangulate the perspectives of multiple stakeholders; for example adolescent beneficiaries and non beneficiaries the programme, their families, influencers like religious leaders, community leaders, service providers like teachers etc.;  allowing on-the-ground realities to emerge to help improve policies and the targeting and design of services for beneficiaries.

During immersion, the RCA does not rely on a pre-determined set of research questions; instead, it uses programme literature to develop areas of conversation, guiding researchers’ pursuit of information and ensuring certain lines of query are explored with participants. In general, the approach aims to track changes in how people live and experience their lives.

 The following research principles highlight the key ways that RCA differs from other methods: 

  • Living with rather than visiting (meeting the family in their own environment, understanding family dynamics and how days and nights are spent);
  • Having conversations rather than conducting interviews (there is no note-taking, putting people at ease and on an equal footing with the outsider);
  • Learning rather than finding out (suspendingjudgement, letting people who experience poverty take the lead in defining the agenda and what is important);
  • Centringon the household and interacting with families rather than users, communities or groups;
  • Being experiential in that researchers themselves take part in daily activities (collecting water, cooking, cultivation, etc.) and accompany household members (to school, to market, tohealthclinic, etc.);
  • Including all household members and understanding relationships, rather than selecting individual respondents;
  • Using private space rather than public space for disclosure (an emphasis on normal, ordinary lives);
  • Accepting multiple realities rather than public consensus (gathering diversity of opinion, including “smaller voices“);
  • Interacting in ordinary daily life with frontline service providers (accompanying host household members in their interactions with local service providers, meeting service providers, e.g., teachers as they go about their usual routines);
  • Taking a cross-sectoral view, although each study has a special focus, theenquiryis situated within the context of everyday life rather than simply (and arguably artificially) looking at one aspect of people’s lives or on one specific sector.


Role and Responsibilities

To support the objectives of the programme through the longitudinal RCA studies, the Palladium RCA team requires Research Associates to be part of the study team. RCA Research Associates receive a unique opportunity to learn the RCA approach by being involved in fieldwork as well as being mentored and supported throughout the study process. Roles and responsibilities of research associates are:

  1.  Satisfactory completion of the mandatory RCA level 1 training
  2.  For each year of the study:
  • Attend all required study briefing sessions
  • Travel with designated sub-team to the study location and manage the selection of a host household for the period of the study
  • Use the Reality Check Approach (having informal conversations, in-depth observations and experiences) and complementary participatory approaches together insights into the study issues, ensuring careful adherence to ethical practices and the need for careful triangulation of information      
  • Full participation in de-briefings with the team leader
  • Submit all required archiving in a timely manner
  • Full participation in the post field study process, including team reflection and sense-making sessions
  • Contribute to sub-team archiving and fulfillment of all responsibilities related to finalisation of the outputs from the study
  • Submit all necessary supporting evidence for any payments made
  • Provide additional information as required by the team leader

        3. Attend ad-hoc training if required

Skill and Competencies 

A. Technical Competencies:

  • A minimum of Bachelor’s  degree in social sciences (i.e. anthropology, development studies, sociology, political science, economics, development communication etc.)
  • Fluency in Punjabi, Seraiki, SindhiandUrdu required with strong spoken and reading English skills
  • 1-2 years of work experience in development research or other development related work
  • Experience in qualitative research and knowledge of terminologies of qualitative research is preferred
  • Having experience working and engaging with adolescents and children will be an advantage

B. Other Qualities and Experience:

  • Flexible, patient and proactive:ability to change course, explore new ideas and ‘go with the flow’
  • Curious people person: excitement about knowing new people and learning about their lives; willingness to strike up a conversation with anyone
  • Good listening and communication skills
  • Open mind: interested in having new, unusual experiences and going to new places
  • Reflexive:ability to continuously reflect on own behaviour, biases, and practices as a researcher
  • Interest in learning new methods and thinking how different methods can work in different contexts
  • Willingness to work flexible hours during the research, including weekends
  • Willingness to travel potentially long distances and live with families in villages for a few days in ‘basic’ conditions
  • Able to maintain attention for extended periods and to maintain high quality outputs

The position is for Pakistani nationals only.


The Research Associates will be contracted through a short-term Consultant Agreement for up to a period of 50-55 days for the duration of the assignment. The expected timeframe for fieldwork (when the Research Associates are expected to provide input) will be April-May 2018 for the baseline study; October-December 2018 for the midline study; and September-November 2019 for the endline study. Accepted candidates that participate in the Baseline RCA study will be expected to participate in the midline andendlinestudies. It is very important that this consistency is maintained, therefore please consider your schedule carefully.


Selected candidates must participate in the RCA Level 1 Training which will be held in Islamabad around mid-April 2018. Contracts will only be provided only to those satisfactorily complete the mandatory level 1 training.



  • Available to attend RCA orientation (in person or by Skype) early tomid April,2018
  • Available to participate in the RCA training approximately on mid-April, 2018
  • Available to participate in the baseline (April-May 2018), the midline (October-December 2018) and endline(September-November 2019) studies, based in Islamabad with travel to other areas of Pakistan for fieldwork
Apply By:

If you are interested, please submit your full CV to stating the position title on the subject of the email.

Applications close at 5 pm Islamabad Time on 28 March 2018.

Only shortlisted candidate will be contacted.