Research Assistant Internships

Our Research Assistant internship scheme enables LISS DTP funded students to work as Research Assistants for a period of up to 13 weeks with an academic (other than their immediate supervisor) based at King’s, Queen Mary or Imperial. Interns will benefit from, for example, working with a larger team of researchers, gaining academic writing practice, training in research methods, networking and dissemination, collaboration with external partners.  Interns continue to receive their usual stipend payment for the duration of the internship and payments are extended by the relevant number of weeks at the end of the original funding end date.

Details of internship projects are listed below.  If you are interested in one or more of these, please get in touch with the person named as Contact.  Please note that funding for these internships is only available to ESRC-funded LISS DTP students. The Contact is responsible for selecting the student to take up the internship.  If you are selected, the you must then apply for an internship extension via the form at in order to show that you have obtained the agreement of your supervisor and so that the appropriate changes to your funding records can be made.

Academic Proposals for Internships

If you are an academic and would like to propose a project for a Research Assistant Internship, please complete the online  proposal form .  The next deadline for submission of proposals is 29th October 2021.

Important Dates

Date  Activity
Call circulated to LISS DTP Colleagues 04/10/2021
Deadline for Proposals 29/10/2021
Review Period 03/11/2021 – 12/11/2021
Confirm outcome with proposers w/c 15/11/2021
Successful Proposals added to website w/c 22/11/2021
Announcement to LISS DTP Students End of November 2021

Current Opportunities

Contact: Mark Freestone


Department: Wolfson Institute, School of Medicine and Dentistry

Institution: Queen Mary, University of London

Project timeline: As the data and analytical strategy for this work are in place, the work is flexible in relation to start and finish dates.

Project duration: The work would best suit approximately a 20 week duration part-time (0.6FTE), but the proposal can be offered flexibly depending on availability. For consistency a commitment of a minimum of 0.4FTE per week would be needed.

Closing date: 2nd August 2021

Expertise required: Extensive experience of quantitative data analysis, although not necessarily including causal or multivariate approaches as this will be closely supported by the supervisor; Expert knowledge of the causal factors behind chronic mental disorder(s), a good grasp of the principles of epidemiological modelling, and excellent communication and presentation skills

Project description: Psychopathy is a clinical syndrome with a complex aetiology, and those with high levels of traits of the disorder have a tendency to have negative outcomes themselves and be responsible for high amounts of criminal and/or antisocial behaviour, including violence towards others. A number of recent studies have provided compelling evidence that differential causal pathways to onset of the disorder (genetic, social and/or environmental) may be associated with qualitatively different behavioural and affective expressions; that psychopathy may not be a single construct but a spectrum disorder. This project will use existing, large epidemiological datasets (the Prisoner Cohort Study and Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys, 2000 – 2014) to explore causal pathways to the onset of psychopathy in the UK criminal and general populations. It will involve the use of longitudinal multivariate data analytic approaches based on a number of existing papers and analyses by the PI and colleagues to adapt an existing conceptual model for the causal onset of psychopathy, developed by the supervisor, into an empirical framework that can be tested using the data. The analysis will involve the fitting of the proposed model within both community and prisoner samples and evaluating the extent to which the model fits the data. The results of this project will help inform future data collection and analysis in relation to understanding the factors behind onset of psychopathic traits in general and forensic populations. Because the project will naturally have a particular focus on experiences in childhood, it may have more direct implications for public health.

Description of work involved: The student will provided with access to the data and relevant analytical software. They will be expected to, under supervision by the PI: – Operationalise, fit and multivariate models for causal pathways to psychopathy (Bayesian Networks, Path Analysis and/or Latent Variable Mixture Modelling) and investigate model fit where appropriate – Write these up in a brief report with associated tables and statistics. – Present these results to colleagues in a seminar – Contribute to academic paper(s) summarising the findings, ideally as lead author depending on contribution.

Student benefits: The student will benefit in the following ways: 1) Exposure to large, in some cases publicly available datasets designed to answer complex epidemiological questions, with the possibility of continued access after EoP. 2) Knowledge of, and supervision of, application advanced quantitative modelling techniques to answer causal questions. 3) Authorship on an impact factor journal article. 4) Exposure to wider research groups in Queen Mary and North London interested in using advanced quantitative methods to answer causal questions about mental health, including clinicians from NHS Trusts (East London NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health) .

Contact: Nicholas Michelsen


Department: Department of War Studies

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: January-May 2022

Project duration:13 weeks, full time

Closing date: 15th December 2021

Expertise required: The project sits at the intersection of several fields of study. A successful application needs: 1) An interest in debates about climate change and its relevance to international relations. 2) An Interest in debates about communications in international relations. 3) An interest in the Caribbean Community or Caribbean region in International Relations.

Project description: This project seeks to develop a new research agenda and construct an international research network exploring the Strategic Communications methods, practices and conduct of the member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) relating to climate change. The research project is concerned to explore how small island states seek to influence international relations through their strategic communications about the global climate emergency, in light of region’s extant exposure to the national and human security consequences of climate change (e.g. soil erosion, hurricanes, sea level rise). The project seeks to examine and explore how small island states may be understood as powerful communicative actors in International Relations. The project will involve interviewing CARICOM professional communicators, so as to develop preliminary research findings on which to establish the wider research agenda. The project aims to invert the normal direction of epistemological authority in international relations, turning to small island states in the global south that are experiencing the sharp end of the global climate emergency, for lessons that may be learned by northern developed states which have been shielded from the security implications of climate change. The potential for policy impact from the research project follows from laying the groundwork for grants and publications aiming to learn lessons from CARICOM strategic communications practices with respect to climate change. CARICOM has unique qualities as a potential case study for shedding light on the role of the private sector in international strategic communications practices, and due to the history and emphasis on climate communications in regional diplomatic research and investment. The project is also intended to support the creation of new partnerships between UK-based scholars and scholars based in the Caribbean Community, which could evolve to include international student/academic exchanges, and wider research collaborations.

Description of work involved:

The student will provide research assistance to support the development of a new research agenda, and to support the creation of an international research network. This will involve: reviewing academic literatures on climate change in International Relations, Strategic Communications and/or the Caribbean Community, drafting sections of text, assisting in the organisation and administration of a research workshop, and supporting primary research (conducting or transcribing interviews). This work has three principle targets/goals: 1) To support the development of a standard research grant proposal to ESRC, to be submitted in the summer of 2022. 2) To support the creation of an international research network, through the organisation of an online workshop/seminar bringing together researchers based in the Caribbean (University of the West Indies), with UK based academics, to explore climate security from a communications perspectives, with a focus on the strategic communications practices of small island states in International Relations. 3) To support the publication of a research article on CARICOM Strategic Communications and the International Relations of Climate Change. This will launch a new research agenda exploring the communications strategies of small island states, and how they seek to influence international relations with respect to the global climate emergency, drawing on interview data that will be gathered in the spring of 2022.

Student benefits:1) The research assistant will be involved in international research network building, through helping to organise an online workshop/ seminar. The student will thereby gain experience of academic event organisation and administration, as well as having the opportunity to build individual relationships and contacts with international academics. 2) In providing research assistance to support the development of an ESRC grant, the student will gain experience of the application process, and may potentially be a candidate for any subsequently offered research positions. 3) Through supporting the conduct of primary interview research, and reviewing relevant academic literatures, the student will be mentored with respect to a key process in academic professional life (the development of a research article). The intention is that the research assistant will be a co-author on the research article, setting out the project research agenda. This will benefit the career development of the student, and support their transition into professional academic life after they complete their doctorate.

Contact: Sania Shakoor


Department: Wolfson Institute, School of Medicine and Dentistry

Institution: Queen Mary, University of London

Project timeline: There is some flexibility in the start date for this project – proposed start August 2021

Project duration: 20 weeks part-time (0.6 FTE)

Closing date: 2nd August 2021

Expertise required: 1) Extensive experience of quantitative data analysis 2) Experience of working with large and complex datasets 3) Knowledge and understanding of aetiological models of violence and mental health in young people 4) Excellent communication, written and presentation skills

Project description: Bullying and intimate partner violence (IPV) are forms of interpersonal violence where perpetrators and victims have an increased risk of mental health problems. They are serious public health issues that have individually received attention from government policies. Parallels in bullying and IPV (i.e. power imbalance) suggests that one may be an extension of the other. Studies suggest that bullying perpetrators and victims are more likely to be perpetrators of IPV. However, less is known about why this may be. There is a need to move beyond testing for associations, and explore underlying mechanisms that explain the continuation of violence from bullying to IPV. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) this project aims to: 1: Investigate the longitudinal relationship between bullying in childhood and intimate partner violence in late adolescence/early adulthood 2: Investigate pathways underlying the relationship between bullying and IPV.

Description of work involved: Under the supervision of the PI the student will be expected to: 1) Conduct multivariate analyses (Regression models, SEM Analysis, Latent Class Analysis) 2) Contribute/Lead to academic paper(s) summarising the findings 3) Share/Present findings to colleagues/third party organisations

Student benefits:1) Exposure to large longitudinal multi generational cohort data 2) Supervision and learning of quantitative modelling techniques 3) Co-authorship/ authorship on an impact factor journal article. 4) Exposure to the wider research community at Queen Mary who are interested in mental health and violence 5) Dissemination of findings to third party organisations

Contact: Aruna Sivakumar


Department: Civil Engineering

Institution: Imperial College London

Project timeline: October-December 2021

Project duration: 13 Weeks

Closing date: 15th August 2021

Expertise required: The student needs to have the following experience and expertise: (1) An understanding of transport systems and networks, and travel behaviour, and the stakeholders in this system; (2) Experience with conducting qualitative interviews; (3) Expertise in designing web-based surveys on Qualtrics; (4) Experience in developing theory of change models is not essential, but would be helpful; (5) Ability to communicate in Italian and Portuguese is not essential, but may be helpful

Project description: The main aim of this project is to undertake a process evaluation study of a set of e-bike initiatives that were trialled in London, Milan and Lisbon as part of the EU-funded Sharing Cities project ( While the EU project was focused on monitoring and evaluating the impacts of these trials on behaviour and the environment using different quantitative datasets, there is an opportunity here to learn from the multi-city trials using a theory of change approach. The student intern will develop a theory of change model for the e-bike trials, and undertake a cross-national qualitative analysis of the challenges, what worked and what didn’t. The project will (a) produce guidelines for local authorities who are considering e-bike sharing schemes as a part of their smart city strategy, and (b) present a general methodology to analyse the effectiveness of smart city initiatives, using a process evaluation approach.

Description of work involved: The main tasks involved are: (1) Developing a theory of change model for the e-bike trials in London, Milan and Lisbon; (2) Developing questionnaires to engage with the stakeholders in each city; (3) Administering the questionnaires through a combination of web-based surveys and interviews via teleconference; (4) Analyse the interviews and survey results to determine the key drivers of change, the challenges, the lessons learnt etc; (5) Documentation of the process and the outcomes in the form of a report, an academic paper and a blogpost.

Student benefits: The anticipated benefits for the student are as follows: (1) working with and networking among a large multi-national project team (of the Sharing Cities project) including academics, public and private sector partners; (2) training through a real life application of the process evaluation approach; (3) producing a journal publication that is targeted at a Smart Cities journal

Contact: Jayati Das-Munshi (Project would be jointly supervised by Dr Peter Schofield)


Department: Psychology

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: Can be flexible – but will require approvals in place for data access which will take around 1 month (unless already has access to datasets)

Project duration: 13 weeks

Closing date: TBC

Expertise: Doctoral level quantitative data analysis expertise / experience is required – ideally using secondary health survey / electronic health records. Knowledge of inequalities in physical / mental health would be desirable.

Project description: There are major concerns that the impact of COVID-19 has led to adverse outcomes in people with severe mental disorders. In particular, there have been widespread changes to service provision (with a move to remote consultations, as well as public health advice to stay at home which led people to stay away from health services even when in acute crisis), and linked concerns that lock down measures and social distancing efforts may have exacerbated feelings of social isolation with further adverse impacts on mental health, in vulnerable populations. Furthermore the social/ economic impacts of the pandemic have led to major concerns that this will further adversely impact people with severe mental illnesses, who were already vulnerable. This study will assess the impact of changes in care provision across primary and secondary care (using data from secondary mental health care records from south London linked to primary care records) to assess if measures and impacts linked to the COVID-19 onset in the UK have led to an increase in deaths in people with severe mental illnesses, potentially mediated through the withdrawal of face-to-face mental health services. This is a secondary data analysis informed by prior service user consultation exercises which reflect their concerns that COVID-19 has exacerbated underlying health inequalities in people living with severe mental health problems. The study findings will be fed back to commissioning groups and primary care to inform how care is provided as the pandemic unfolds.

Description of work involved: The student will work with a linked dataset from primary and secondary care and will be supported to conduct/ lead on analyses assess the impact of COVID-19 on 1. deaths in people with severe mental disorders; 2. Whether changes to service provision (greater remote consultations, reduced face to face consultations) mediated observed mortality in this population. The student will be supervised to lead analyses using advanced quantitative methods- including interrupted time series analyses, and mediation/ path analyses. The student will be encouraged to lead the writing of one academic paper or report to commissioners on the main findings and will be encouraged to share findings with our service user advisory group.

Contact: Jenny Driscoll


Department: School of Education, Communication & Society

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: TBC

Project duration: 13 weeks, ideally full-time but we can be flexible.

Closing date: 2nd August 2021

Expertise: Essential: Excellent and oral communication skills; Good IT skills; Desirable: Statistical analysis skills; an interest/experience in the use of creative technologies to create attractive and innovative resources .

Project description: This internship project will contribute to a project funded by the King’s Together: Multi & Interdisciplinary Research Scheme and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) Social Science Impact Fund (SSIF). The long-term aim of the project is to strengthen the ways in which organisations and agencies engaged in safeguarding and child protection work together, by learning from the challenges posed to multi-agency working by Covid-19. The study was designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures in England. In light of the challenges to intra- and inter-agency communication and the impact of actions taken by individual agencies, such as redeployment, on joint working, the study focuses on practitioner working and the multiagency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both strategically and operationally. It was granted ethical approval by the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee [LRS-19/20-19420] and has been deemed a service evaluation by participating NHS organisations. We have completed the first stage, comprising 67 interviews with service leaders/senior professionals in each of six disciplines involved in child protection (Children’s Social Care, Police, Education, Health, Mental Health and Law) and Safeguarding Partnerships (the tripartite leadership team charged with coordinating and delivering targeted services for children and families in each local authority area). Currently (November 2020) we are preparing the second stage, comprising a national survey of similar professional groups, which will focus on the lessons taken from the first lockdown to shape practice during and beyond the second lockdown. The aim is to share emerging good practice for multi-disciplinary working during the crisis and make recommendations on ‘future proofing’ the safeguarding system in England. We will do this through 4 partner organisations and 7 members of an Expert Reference Group.

Description of work involved: By the time the intern starts, we expect to have administered the survey and will be working on analysis, dissemination and impact. There will be some scope for the intern to choose activities of most interest to them, from the following: 1. Analysis of the survey data, leading to an article from the survey stage of the research. 2. Development of outputs and resources of direct utility to practitioners working with children and families and senior managers planning responses to ongoing disruption from Covid-19 measures. Resources will be developed in conjunction with partner organisations and the Expert Reference Group but are likely to include good practice sheets, case studies or podcasts for professionals. 3. Policy and advocacy work, including a short report for the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board and other interested parties and an advocacy video. 4. an article on the findings from the first stage of the project, arising from our conference presentation for the International Journal of Children’s Rights or otherwise.

Student benefits: The student will gain from: 1. Working with a larger team of researchers. We have a team of 3 staff from Education, Communication & Society, backed by expert partners from the Law Faculty (Professor Gillian Douglas, Dean) and IoPPN (Professor Andrea Danese) and external partners. 2. Academic writing practice and potential for publication. The multi-disciplinary nature of the project opens up varied opportunities for publications across disciplines. 3. Analysis of quantitative data sets and writing up the survey results 4. Developing skills in research impact activities. This project provides a unique opportunity for the intern to contribute to developing resources to inform current policymaking at national and regional level and to support practitioners as the effects of the pandemic on child safeguarding become clearer and as agencies develop medium to long term plans in response. Developing these skills is becoming ever more important for modern day researchers carrying out research with an explicit aim to change/adapt/develop policy and practice. 5. Collaboration with external agencies: The intern will liaise with our 4 partner organisations and Expert Reference Group. Partner Organisation are: the National Police Chief’s Council, Vulnerability, Knowledge and Practice Programme (reporting through the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board), The Children’s Society, The Association of Safeguarding Partnerships (TASP) and the Association of Child Protection Professionals (AoCPP). Our Expert Reference Group and Partner Organisations includes Professor Jenny Pearce, Simon Bailey (Chief Constable of Norfolk and National Safeguarding Lead for the Police), Dr Peter Green of the National Network for Designated Health Professionals, Martin Pratt, Director of Children’s Services at the London Borough of Camden, Sarah Hannafin of the National Association of Head Teachers and Hannah Parry of the Association of Lawyers for Children. 6. Networking and dissemination will be a central activity for the intern as we develop resources for practitioners and look to engage with policy-makers to maximise impact from the project.

Contact: Dr Lucia Pradella


Department: European and International Studies

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: The research is ongoing and will likely be completed by the end of 2022.

Project duration: Semi-part time (flexible) for a maximum of 13 weeks-equivalent work over a six-month period (mid-September 2021 to March 2022)

Closing date: 30th September 2021

Expertise required: The ideal candidate will have good knowledge of the International Political Economy of migration and critical border studies. They will have very good qualitative research, writing and organizational skills. Knowledge of Arabic language would be preferable.

Project description: This project aims at better understanding the impact of the militarization of the EU borders in the Mediterranean on labour relations in Libya and Italy in the light of the literature on South African and Global Apartheid. Since the late 1970s, the concept of Global Apartheid has come to denote white minority rule in international decision making (Kohler 1978; Makhijiani 1992; Alexander 1994; Bond 2004; Shiva 1992). More recently, some scholars (Kyle & Koslowski 2011l; Besteman 2019; Walia 2020) have used this concept to understand global migration, but without much engagement with theoretical perspectives on Apartheid (Legassick, Hemson, Wolpe, Alexander etc). This project consists of two main parts. (1) First, it traces theoretical debates on Apartheid in relation to the militarization of EU borders in the Mediterranean. The main hypothesis is that, while the plunder of Libyan resources and social insecurity push an increasing number of people to leave Libya, border militarization both traps immigrants in Libya and pushes them towards Europe. If this mechanism ensures the availability of a pool of vulnerable workers in Italy, comparison between Libya and Italy can also encourage immigrants to organise and assert their rights (cf. Pradella and Rad 2017; Pradella and Cillo 2020). (2) Through online, semi-structured interviews with trade-unionists, investigative journalists, labour inspectors, members of NGOs and other associations the project will then seek to assess the impact of the militarization of EU borders (pre- and post-Covid-19 pandemic) on migration journeys, labour conditions and attitudes towards mobilization and organization. The overall goal of this project is to engage Libyan and EU social forces and have an impact on policy debates about these subjects.

Description of work involved: The research assistant will engage in five main tasks. (1) They will provide research assistance to review academic literature on South African and Global Apartheid and the militarization of EU borders. (2) They will support primary research by conducting or helping transcribe interviews. (3) They will help build an international network of scholars and activists with a focus on how the findings of this research can impact on the strategies of trade unions and pro-immigrant civil society groups. This will also imply collaborating in the organisation of a research workshop. (4) They will collaborate in the publication of a report to be published by the Transnational Institute and, potentially, a research article. (5) They will support the development of a standard research grant proposal to ESRC or other funding bodies.

Student benefits: The research assistant will be mentored with respect to key processes in academic professional life: primary research; co-authoring a report and, potentially, a research article; international research network building; academic event organisation and administration. In providing research assistance to support the development of a research grant, the student will gain experience of the application process, and may potentially be a candidate for any subsequently offered research positions.

Past Opportunities (for reference only)

Contact: Andrew Brooks


Department: Geography

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: June-August, start and finish dates are negotiable but must be Summer 2021

Project duration: 13 Weeks

Closing date: this internship has now been filled by Joris Gort

Expertise: The goal will be to write for an academic geography audience and to approach the topic with a critical perspective. Therefore a background in  development or economic geography and familiarity with Marxian or other heterodox approaches will be required. No previous academic publishing experience is requisite.

Project description: Chinese political influence and financial muscle is having  tremendous purchase in new territories. Huge Chinese investment is building roads across Africa, developing ports in the Indian Ocean and pumping gas from the Gulf of Guinea. The most significant aspect of China’s increasing engagement in Africa is the rapidly accumulating debt burden. African leaders have been on a shopping spree with somebody else’s credit card. For instance, Kenya borrowed $3.2 billion to build a modern railway line linking Nairobi and Mombasa. The line is now up and running but generating huge losses. Some borrowing might be prudent to help deliver badly-needed infrastructure, but much is poorly planned. The terms of the loans are opaque, and projects overpriced. With a Covid-19 induced global recession in the offing, it seems inevitable that some African countries will default on these unsustainable debts. In the 1980s Africa experienced a lost decade of development as a crippling debt burden and rising interest rates, following irresponsible lending and borrowing from Wall Street banks, led to widespread cuts in government services and the near collapse of health and education. Decision makers in the US were able to dictate policy and impose their will on African economies, forcing them to liberalise in exchange for debt restructuring through their control of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sadly, it looks like when the next bubble bursts there will be further pain across Africa. The purpose of this project is to i) Map the scale and scope of Chinese lending in Africa, ii) Identify one or more African country most likely to default on current debts, iii) Draw on experiences from the last debt crisis to theorize the consequences of the next and consider how China may re-shape the political economy of Africa. The output will be a single journal article submission.

Description of work involved: The student needs to review a range of sources: academic, press, government documents, economic reporting, to map the scale and geography of Chinese lending in Africa. Subsequently, a signal case study will be developed and theorized using critical approaches. The target will be a submission to a leading journal towards the end of the internship. A secondary goal, will be to write an op-ed for popular media summarizing the main findings to facilitate wider dissemination. Due to Covid this piece of work has been designed to be purely desktop based and can be carried out remotely.

Student benefits: This is a discrete and self-contained project with the objective of producing one co-authored journal article, first authored by the PhD candidate with the supervisor as second author. The student will benefit from the experiencing of co-writing and guidance through the peer review process. Moreover, drawing on the supervisor’s experience, once published they will work to promote the article across various public-facing media.

Contact: Adam Chalmers


Department: Political Economy

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: April to July 2021

Project duration: Semi-part time (flexible) for a maximum of 13 weeks-equivalent work over a four-month period (April to July 2021)

Closing date:  this internship has now been filled by Constance Woollen

Expertise: The ideal candidate will have very good quantitative research skills including (1) advanced knowledge of statistical analysis and (2) a working knowledge of text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis. They should also have experience building and managing large datasets as well as developing and applying coding schemes. Excellent writing and organisational skills are also required.

Project description: Our project seeks to better understand the role of the state as a driver of corporations’ social impact: the effect (positive or negative) that a business has on their own workforce, their local community, the environment, and wider society. Importantly, existing scholarship has largely side-lined the state in this regard and a near consensus in the literature has formed around the notion that the state has retreated from regulating its own domestic multinational firms. Corporations are thought to have instead become their own champions of advancing positive social impact. We carried out a short pilot study in 2019 systematically investigating these assumptions. Our initial findings challenge this consensus view and paint a far more nuanced picture of the role of the state as a driver of corporate social impact. These findings frame two main research question clusters that define the aims of our project. (1) Are states ‘norm makers’ or ‘norm takers’ in the diffusion of global social impact norms? For instance, where and when do we see global impact standards, like the UN Global Compact, downloaded into state law? Alternatively, when are existing state norms actively uploaded into global norms? Do states sometimes bypass the global level, and instead cross-load norms with other states and do we see patterns of regional clustering around a norm-leader? (2) How can we account for variation in the ‘restrictiveness’ of state-driven social impact guidelines? Are states captives to their largest industries or multinationals? Are some aspects of social impact simply harder to quantify and regulate than others? How do regional races to regulatory top and bottom factor in?

Description of work involved: The student will engage three main tasks. The first task is to help expand the dataset and build our corpus of documents. This will include organising and collecting state social impact guidelines from four sources: Carrots and Sticks, Principles for Responsible Investing, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, and the European Corporate Governance Institute. The second task involves analysing these documents. This will include some hand-coding using the Comparative Agendas Project coding scheme but will primarily involve using various text-as-data techniques (e.g., creating taxonomies and calculating term frequency statistics; estimating cosine similarity scores and using these in path analysis to test diffusion effects). The third task is writing up results and drafting a paper co-authored with the two principle investigators. This will likely involve drafting parts of the literature review or methods section as well as working on the statistical appendix.

Student benefits: The main benefit is publishing a co-authored paper with the Principle Investigators. This will add to the student’s CV and will help them in a competitive job market where publications play a major role. Second, the student will benefit from learning new methodological skills and adding to their methodology-toolkits. Text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis are increasingly becoming critical skills as social science and public policy make a turn toward big data. Third, the student will have an opportunity to expand their network in academia. This will result from working with the two Principle Investigators and others working on the project (including a LISS-DTP PhD student) as well as from presenting their work at international conferences.

The successful candidate can expect to receive specific training in text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis as part of this internship (in the specific areas where these skills are lacking). These are increasingly important and transferable quantitative skills that would prove useful for any budding academic or individuals seeking jobs in public policy, government, or think tanks.

Contact: Kerry Holden


Department: Geography

Institution: Queen Mary, University of London

Project timeline: The research is ongoing and being developed as part of an international collaboration and large grant application. We would expect the research to be completed by the end of 2021 and we are flexible about the exact time-frame.

Project duration: 13 Weeks (starting October 2021 or earlier)

Closing date: 2nd August 2021

Expertise: Essential skills include historical and archival research skills, excellent critical and evaluative skills, knowledge of critical social theory and revisionist history. A preference will be given to students with expertise and experience of conducting research in African contexts and in African histories, with a regional preference for Southern Africa. A preference will also be given to students with experience of data management and storage.

Project description: Abstract to the Planetary Portals project that received seed funding for collaborative events and is currently being developed into a larger project the student will support. In a recent article in Nature, scientists claim we have passed a crucial tipping-point as the total mass of human-made matter for the first time outweighs the total biomass of the earth. The accumulation of more and more things on the surface, relies on burrowing further and further into the depths of the earth and desedimenting its stratal flows to release temporal mixing at material level (predominately as geochemical and heat exchanges). The Nature report raises alarm about the weight of the human ‘footprint’ on earth–the ‘heavy’ mammalian supremacy–as a planetary homogenizing condition, but is depicted as socially indifferent to the uneven geographies, racial inequalities and health disparities that situate the relations and exchanges between the underground and surface and between the surface and atmosphere. We invoke the portal as a disruptive method that pinches, pulls and rips the idea of the ‘planetary’ as an event surface and sets the conditions for imagining the transitory stages of anthropocenic planetary processes that are gathered under the rubric of ‘the Anthropocene’. We bring together geographical ideas of disruptive upside-down surfaces to collaborators in architecture, design and earth science in order to reimagine society and space as actively involved in the racialized geopolitics of ‘changing states’ through the proliferations of inversions, depletions and dispersals. Engaging the portal as method, we propose that the ‘planetary’ is spatially and temporally produced through geographic and racial inequalities that have their histories in colonialism, slavery, and neo-extractivism (see Yusoff 2018). For example, miners descend into the world’s deepest mines in South Africa to extract precious metals and stones that are sold on London and New York’s Stock Exchange, extending the legacies of Cecil Rhodes (in the vehicle of De Beers) and the affective architectures of British colonial occupation of South Africa. This ‘colonialism beyond colonialism’ hints at both the afterlife of migratory extraction forms (the plantation, the mine, the ‘racialized poor’) and the continued portals of transference of value to concentrated nodes of power. Who descends and what floats is an affectual racialized geography of depth and inversion that tells geostories about the historical exchanges of materialities of earth and capital in planetary transformation. The statues may be gone or coming down (#rhodesmustfall), but the racialized geophysics of extraction remains.

Description of work involved: The student will undertake archival research by first identifying key sources in libraries across the world concerning mining and physical infrastructure in the extractive histories of South Africa; the construction of the New York Subway; and the diamond and gold trade in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century. The student will collate, index and summarise key sources (where they can be obtained either by request or visitation to the library) The student will support the research team in undertaking a targeted archival analysis of specific collections such as the Rhodes collection at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (already begun by the team and requiring further support) The student will write annotated summaries of the archival materials gathered by the team. The student will assume responsibility for data management of archival materials ensuring that they are labelled correctly according to referencing information, indexed and filed securely in encrypted password protected folders. The student will have an opportunity to participate in the collaborative network. The archival research will directly support the development of an 2022 exhibition in collaboration with the Pratt School of Architecture, Urban Soils citizen science group based in NYC and Environmental Humanities South, University of Cape Town.

Student benefits: The student will acquire a range of skills in developing their archival and historical analysis skills. They will gain exposure to a range of key archival collections and learn to critically engage in the archive as a living space. The student will join a team of experienced researchers and learn from their skills in interpreting, analysing and writing with historical material in an interdisciplinary mode. The student will support the development of a major grant application, and learn about grant writing, research design and budget management, and contribute towards journal publications, written and artistic outputs, learning new skills in staging interdisciplinary research, developing public engagement pathways and impact strategies. In supporting this project, the student will learn new skills in professional and research skill development.