UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence

Research Specialist (Digital) # 553210 – P3 (Fixed Term – 2 years) – Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence Italy

Job no: 553210

Position type: Fixed Term Appointment

Location: Italy Division/Equivalent: Field Results Group

School/Unit: Florence, Italy

Department/Office: Office of Research

Categories: Partnerships

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, Research

Organizational Context:

Digital technology is a key driver of change and underpins the realization of several Sustainable Development Goals. Access to digital technology can be an important enabler for young people to develop the skills and literacies necessary to achieve learning objectives and to prepare for an increasingly digitalized economy. At the same time, internet access may compound existing risks to children that, unless managed, could undermine their well-being. In order to develop appropriate policy and program responses, UNICEF and other child rights organizations need robust evidence on how children use the internet, including the many opportunities the internet affords them and the risks they may face online.

To improve the global evidence base and support UNICEF’s advocacy, programming and policy development for the future, UNICEF’s Office of Research has been conducting research on children’s use of digital technology for the past 7 years. The office continually contributes to UNICEF’s internal discussions, reports, and global debates on a range issues for children in the digital world, such as the impact of technology on children’s mental health, privacy and data protection regulation, parenting in the digital age, online violence, digital skills development, the impact of online gaming on children’s rights, and social media use and well-being. As part of its core mandate, the office provides UNICEF with technical support, training, research design, implementation, cross-national data analysis, convening and dissemination opportunities.

As the unit on Digital Technology & Children at the Office of Research continues to grow due to increasing demand for evidence from within and outside the organization, there is need for additional staff to strengthen the team’s capacity to respond.

The Research Specialist (Digital) will be part of UNICEF Office of Research’s unit on Digital Technology & Children. The Specialist reports to the Research Manager (Digital Technology & Children).

Key functions, accountabilities and related duties/tasks:

1. Support to research design, research implementation, and data analysis/writing 2. Research management, monitoring, and progress updates 3. Technical and operational support to national research implementation 4. Networking and partnership building

1. Support to research design, research implementation, and data analysis/writing

 Support the preparation, design and implementation of multi-country, national-level research with children to ensure that current and comprehensive data on children’s experiences in the digital environment and of living in a digital age are available to guide UNICEF’s policy, advocacy, interventions and other development efforts.  Lead or support data management and data analysis, producing concrete results and new outputs that can inform the work of UNICEF and the global community.  Help supervisor set priorities, strategies, research designs and implementation plans. Keep abreast of development trends to enhance programme management, efficiency and delivery. Work closely and collaboratively with internal colleagues and partners to discuss strategies and priorities.  Participate in strategic programme discussions on the planning of research programmes. Formulate, design and prepare research proposals for the unit, ensuring alignment with UNICEF’s Strategic Plan, and coherence/integration with regional strategies and national priorities, plans and competencies.  Provide technical and operational support throughout all stages of programming processes and to ensure integration, coherence and harmonization of programmes/projects with other UNICEF sectors and achievement of results as planned and allocated.

2. Research management, monitoring and progress updates

 Plan and collaborate with internal colleagues and external partners to manage ongoing research projects.  Prepare and assess monitoring and evaluation reports to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses in research management. Identify lessons learned and use knowledge gained to improve planning and execution of future research projects.

 Actively monitor programmes/projects through field visits and dialogue with partners, and exchange information with stakeholders to assess progress, identify bottlenecks and potential problems, and take timely decisions to resolve issues and/or refer to relevant officials for timely resolution.

 Prepare regular and mandated programme reports for management, donors and partners to keep them informed of programme progress.

3. Technical and operational support to national research implementation

 Provide technical guidance and operational support to government counterparts, NGO partners, UN system partners and country office partners and donors on research design, implementation, interpretation, and use of evidence, related to children’s use of digital technology.

 Arrange/coordinate availability of technical experts with Regional Offices/HQ to ensure timely and appropriate support throughout the research process.

 Participate in UNICEF-wide meetings related to Child Online Protection, to provide evidence, technical and operational information, advice and support.

 Draft technical papers or guidance documents, or other strategic programme materials, to share lessons learned/best practice, and document progress.

 Keep abreast of new research on children’s use of digital technology and Child Online Protection. Assess, institutionalize and share best practices and knowledge learned.

4. Networking and partnership building

  • Build and sustain effective close working partnerships with relevant government counterparts, country offices, national stakeholders, global partners, donors, and academia through active networking, advocacy and effective communication to build capacity, exchange knowledge/expertise and to reinforce cooperation.
  • Prepare communication and information materials for UNICEF’s advocacy, to promote awareness, establish partnerships and support fund raising for research programmes or programmatic activities related to Digital Technology & Children.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…


An advanced university degree with research focus in one of the following fields is required: media and communications, psychology, sociology, or another relevant technical field.


A minimum of five years of professional experience in research is required.

Experience designing and implementing primary data collection activities in low- and middle-income settings is required.

Experience analyzing, writing about, and publishing on quantitative and qualitative data is required.

Experience of cross-national comparative research is required.

Experience with research on online child sexual exploitation and abuse is considered as an asset.

Experience working in a developing country is considered as an asset.

Language requirements:

Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.

Technical competencies must be demonstrated in the following areas:

  • Excellent understanding of how to design and implement nationally representative household surveys with children and families on their use of digital technology; including knowledge about ethical clearance processes and how to design child safeguarding protocols.

  • Excellent understanding of how children use and engage with the digital environment and the risks and opportunities they encounter, across topics such as: access and inclusion, digital skills, online risks and harm, parental engagement and support; and cross-sectoral approaches to address such issues in collaboration with other sectors (including Child Protection, Law Enforcement, Education and Justice).
  • Good understanding of how to conduct quality data analysis and report on findings to diverse audiences; including government, other policy makers, country offices, the general public and internally.
  • Good knowledge of global developments in children’s use of digital technologies and the latest trends in evidence on this topic.
  • Good ability to support engagement with partners both internal to UNICEF and externally, including giving presentations or representing the work in public fora.
  • Some ability to support policy dialogue: translation of analytical findings and evidence into development programme and policy discussions with partners, including government, development partners, civil society organizations and academia in relevant areas.
  • Some research management experience, including research design, planning, costing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and reporting.

Relevant experience in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate UNICEF’s Core Values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust and Accountability (CRITA) underpin everything we do and how we do it. Get acquainted with Our Values Charter: (link)

UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

(1) Builds and maintains partnerships (2) Demonstrates self-awareness and ethical awareness (3) Drive to achieve results for impact (4) Innovates and embraces change (5) Manages ambiguity and complexity (6) Thinks and acts strategically (7) Works collaboratively with others.

During the recruitment process, we test candidates following the competency framework. Familiarize yourself with our competency framework and its different levels: competency framework here.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

We offer a wide range of benefits to our staff, including paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. UNICEF strongly encourages the use of flexible working arrangements.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

UNICEF appointments are subject to medical clearance. Issuance of a visa by the host country of the duty station, which will be facilitated by UNICEF, is required for IP positions. Appointments may also be subject to inoculation (vaccination) requirements, including against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID). Government employees that are considered for employment with UNICEF are normally required to resign from their government before taking up an assignment with UNICEF. UNICEF reserves the right to withdraw an offer of appointment, without compensation, if a visa or medical clearance is not obtained, or necessary inoculation requirements are not met, within a reasonable period for any reason.

Advertised: Jul 21 2022 W. Europe Daylight Time Application close: Aug 21 2022 W. Europe Daylight Time

Tags: breastfeeding, child protection, child rights, childrens rights, data analysis, data collection, data management, data protection, development trends, digital technology, household surveys, law enforcement, mental health, monitoring and evaluation, parental leave, programme management, skills development, sustainable development, sustainable development goals, translation