What we have learned from our pilot and when our next program is happening
TL;DR: We are excited to announce the second round of our Research Training Program. This online program is designed to equip participants with the tools and skills needed to identify, compare, and recommend the most effective charities, interventions, and organisations. It is a full-time (35 hours per week), fully cost-covered program that will run remotely for 12 weeks.
Deadline for application: January 28, 2024.
The program dates are April 15 - July 5, 2024.
If you are progressing to the last stage of the application process you will receive a final decision by the 15th of March the latest. Please let us know if you need a decision before that date.
What have we learned from our pilot?
The theory of change for the Research Training Program has three outputs: helping train people to switch into impactful research positions, creating intervention reports that influence CE’s decisions of which new organisations to start, and creating evaluations that help organisations have the most impact and funders to make impact maximising decisions. We have outlined what we have learned about each of these aspects below:
- Intervention reports: For eight out of the eleven weeks, the sixteen research fellows have investigated fifteen cause areas, created forty-six shallow reviews, and written twenty-two deep dives, five of which have already been published on the EA forum (find them here). Although we are planning some changes to improve the fellows’ experience in the program, we are deeply impressed by these results and look forward to replicating them with a slightly different approach.
- People: Since the program ended only a couple of weeks ago, it is too early to tell what career switches will happen because of the program. We have some early and very promising results with two research fellows already having made career changes that we consider highly impactful. If you are currently hiring and are interested in people with intervention prioritisation skills applying, please contact us.
- Charity evaluations: Traditionally, Charity Entrepreneurship has focused most of its research on investigating the potential impact of interventions. We believe that more impact-focused accountability is essential for the sector, and we would like to support the evaluated organisations and funders in making more informed decisions. This is why at the end of the program the research fellows focused on writing charity evaluations in group projects. We were too confident in our timelines and are planning a major restructuring of this part of the program. However, we are happy that three evaluations could be shared directly with the evaluated organisations. We are looking forward to learning from other evaluators in the space.
What will the next program look like?
- Content: The program will start with a week of providing an overview of the most important research skills. The program's first part will then focus on writing cause area reports in groups in which fellows take a problem and identify the most promising solutions. Afterwards, the fellows investigate those most promising ideas through a shallow review. After conducting a shallow review, research fellows will evaluate the most promising interventions through a deep dive, which will be polished and published, and influence decision-making within Charity Entrepreneurship and beyond. After these reports are published, there will be some time to think about careers and apply to different opportunities, before jumping into some charity evaluations that can influence the decisions of funders as well as strategic decisions within the evaluated organisations themselves.
- Learning outcomes: Most of the program is focused on providing fellows with a skill set of what we consider the most important intervention prioritisation skills to be: mastering theories of change, evidence reviews, cost-effectiveness analyses and decision-making through weighted factor models. In addition to these fundamental skills, we will touch on other skills such as forecasting, moral weights, monitoring and evaluation. Please note that most of our research training will focus on an intervention prioritisation skill set, which means working with secondary resources rather than conducting primary research. We will also spend most of our time prioritising interventions instead of doing cause prioritisation, which would be a more philosophical approach. Instead, we will focus on comparing interventions within rather than across cause areas.
- A typical day on the program: Depending on your timezone, you could start your day with office hours, where you and your fellow researchers could discuss some challenges you have encountered or some of the new concepts. This is also a great time to ask your advisor questions. After office hours, you could join a Pomodoro session with other participants to work on the day’s project. After a lunch break, you could continue working on your project and maybe end your day with a social check-in with another participant. Every week, there are also all-hands-on-deck meetings and optional social events that you can attend. Most of the program is facilitated in the social platform Gather, which allows us to create more of a community feeling, with this being a remote program.
Should you apply to the program?
What the program can offer you:
- Stipends to cover your living costs during, and potentially after, the program (Please reach out if you have dependents or childcare costs to ensure financial constraints don't hinder your participation).
- Resources: A handbook on “How to do research for change” and access to our complete researcher's toolkit, including templates, methodologies, and resource access.
- Growing your research portfolio: A portfolio of published intervention reports and charity evaluations shared with CE charities and other aligned organisations, making them decision-relevant.
- Certification in Intervention Comparison and Charity Impact Evaluation.
- Community: Connections with established researchers, fellow researchers, the CE team and the wider CE community. Your work will also be directly shared with several of CE’s partner organisations, increasing your visibility for potential future job applications.
- Job search and application assistance to help you land a role in an impact-focused organisation or research field. This also means accessing concrete opportunities within the EA ecosystem and the wider research community.
For whom the program is designed:
- Motivated researchers who want to produce trusted research outputs to improve effectiveness-minded organisations' prioritisation and allocation decisions.
- Early career individuals seeking to build their research toolkits and gain practical experience through tangible projects.
- Existing researchers in the broader Global Health and Well-being communities (global health, animal advocacy, mental health, health/biosecurity, etc.) interested in approaching research from an effectiveness-minded perspective.
We encourage everyone to apply to Stage 1, as it is the best way to assess your fit for the program. Subsequent stages require increasing time investment, but we will only invite you if we believe it is worth pursuing. The application stages are trying to emulate what the program will look like, to give you an idea if this program could be a good fit for you while you are applying.