United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Consultant (Research Quality Assessment, Synthesis, and Dissemination)

United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Job Description


UNICEF China is looking for a Senior Consultant to help the Social Policy and Reform for Children (SPARC) section more effectively use existing and future research to influence UNICEF programming and national policy conversations to enhance equity and uphold Child Rights.

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, care

UNICEF China’s Social Policy and Reform for Children (SPARC) section works to ensure that every child in China has access to the services and receives the support she needs to develop fully.  An important way in which we do this is by working with Chinese government partners to produce research and evidence that informs the development of policies that advance equity and uphold child rights. 

Research, studies, and evaluations (RSEs) in UNICEF China are conducted following a three-tiered classification and Quality Assurance framework.  Tier 1 RSEs are flagship publications and other high-quality RSEs of high strategic importance to UNICEF’s Programming and Advocacy in China or at the Regional and Global levels, as well as publication-quality, peer-reviewed RSEs on specific topics.  Tier 2 RSEs are high-quality RSEs that gather, summarize, and synthesize data, information, and knowledge from a variety of sources on a specific topic, typically closely related to UNICEF’s current or future programming and advocacy at the country level.  Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 studies typically involve a significant financial investment by UNICEF.   Tier 3 RSEs, on the hand, are smaller in terms of financial investment and exploratory in nature and are typically conducted in concert with national partners in order to advance understanding and expand the evidence base on emerging policy issues relevant for children. The RSE work of the SPARC section to date has consisted mainly of Tier 3 RSEs carried out together with Government Partners. 

In 2017-2018 the SPARC team conducted a review of the research management process and its effectiveness, which helped identify opportunities for improvement. A collective insight generated by the team through the review process was that changes were needed in the way SPARC prioritizes, initiates, negotiates, and manages research with Government partners, in order to improve: 1) the internal relevance and usefulness of; 2) the policy relevance and usefulness to Government partners; 3) the dissemination and advocacy use of research.

The current context presents a unique opportunity for action on this front, as UNICEF China enters the final year of the current country program and develops the next one.   The present consultancy thus aims to support the SPARC team and national partners to help consolidate the social policy research portfolio and transform the approach to evidence generation and Policy Advocacy followed by SPARC.

How can you make a difference?

The purpose of this assignment is to help the Social Policy and Reform for Children (SPARC) section of UNICEF China more effectively use existing and future research to influence UNICEF programming and national policy conversations to enhance equity and uphold child rights. To that end, the assignment pursues the following objectives:

  1. Improve the internal relevance and usefulness of social policy research.  For research to be relevant and useful for SPARC and the UNICEF CO, it must meet certain criteria around thematic coherence and added value, research quality, and alignment with SPARC and UNICEF’s strategic objectives.

  2. Improve the policy relevance of research and usefulness for Government partners.  To be effective, policy-oriented research must provide clear, evidence-based insights on relevant policy questions that can be used by policymakers and decision makers at different levels of Government to improve policies and systems. 

  3. Improve dissemination of research and advocacy use.  For research to be as relevant as possible to programming and policy, it needs to be accessible to and used by the appropriate audiences, which may at different times include different levels of Government, UNICEF, other organizations, and the public. 

To learn more details on the activities and expected deliverables, please visit the TOR - Download File TOR_Social Policy ResearchReview_Senior_05052020_Final.docx

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

This assignment requires a Senior Consultant with extensive experience in policy-oriented research and a deep familiarity with China and the Chinese policy environment, who understands and identifies with UNICEF’s mandate to ensure the right and full development of every child.  The Consultant is expected to independently to produce the deliverables outlined above.

Qualifications and Experience

In addition to the general requirements above, the Consultant should have the following qualifications:

    • Post-graduate degree in economics, public policy, development economics, international development, or social science; 

    • At least 10 years of prior experience in research and/or Monitoring and Evaluation;

    • Excellent track record with evidence generation and publications, especially for peer-reviewed journals.

    • Familiarity with the Chinese socioeconomic context, China’s governance structures, and current and emerging socioeconomic policy and governance issues and debates in China;

    • Fluency in English with excellent communication and writing skills;

    • Knowledge in Mandarin Chinese will be an asset. 

    • UNICEF, UN, or other development agency experience is a strong asset.


    • Availability at short notice;

    • Ability to work to an equally high standard both independently and as part of a team.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.


Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.

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.

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.

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