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Lead Research Manager, XCEPT

The Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) programme is one of the UK government’s flagship conflict research programmes. XCEPT brings together world-leading experts and local researchers to examine conflict-affected borderlands, how conflicts connect across borders, and the drivers of violent and peaceful behaviour. Funded by UK aid, XCEPT offers rigorous, actionable research to inform policies and programmes that support peace.

The Chemonics-managed part of XCEPT began implementation in mid-2021. A key component of the programme is the XCEPT Research Fund (XRF). This is XCEPT’s flexible, responsive research commissioning platform, delivering journal-quality policy-relevant research.

The Lead Research Manager position will play a pivotal role in driving and overseeing multiple research awards. They will also contribute to the development of the Research and Evidence practice, identifying and capturing new research opportunities.

The ideal candidate will possess strong leadership skills, a proven track record in research management, and the ability to provide advice and technical guidance on research methodologies. Importantly, they will hold an advanced degree (Ph.D. or equivalent experience) in a relevant field, such as international relations, international development, conflict and security studies, social studies.

Key Responsibilities:

Research Oversight

  • Provide guidance on research design, methods, ethics, writing and presentation across the XCEPT Research Fund (XRF) award portfolio
  • Oversee the planning, execution, and completion of research awards led by Senior Research Managers
  • Lead on, and contribute to, the technical review and constructive quality assurance of research awards and outputs
  • Provide leadership and support to Research Managers, awardees, and XCEPT Communications team to think creatively about thematic uptake development across strands of research
  • Contribute to the further development of XCEPT thematic research baskets, including leading conceptualization and commissioning of research awards, in consultation with relevant stakeholders
  • Allocate resources efficiently across research awards, considering team capacity and award requirements

Technical Design and Business Development

  • Support the development of Chemonics’ Research and Evidence service offer through identifying and capturing new research programmes, leading technical proposals and representing Chemonics externally
  • Lead on, and contribute to, the technical design of new Research and Evidence proposal opportunities, from identification and pre-positioning through to submission
  • Provide constructive quality assurance of technical offers on selected new bids
  • Collaborate with Chemonics’ Research lead to identify emerging research areas and opportunities for growth

Reporting and Learning

  • Support with internal and external learning, including building awareness of XCEPT’s research approaches and strengthening the capacity of the Research Manager cadre to design and deliver research awards to the required standards
  • Support the identification of lessons from research award delivery activity across XCEPT’s research portfolio, facilitating lesson-learning and complementarity across the research awards
  • Support the embedding of good practice, through design and delivery of trainings and other learning events
  • Engage with the wider research community through attendance and participation in external events

Person Specification:


  • Advanced degree (Ph.D. or equivalent experience) in a relevant field, such as international relations, international development, conflict and security studies, social studies and/or related fields

Essential Skills

  • Expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, in particular the design and management of research in conflict-affected settings
  • Understanding of research ethics, safeguarding and duty of care
  • Experience delivering research and analysis to policy audiences
  • Experience making research-based policy recommendations to a wide range of policy audiences, such as His Majesty’s Government or other national governments or multilateral institutions
  • Experience leading, shaping, and managing innovative research portfolios and outputs
  • Experience building strong relationships with multiple partners and organisations to achieve a strong, cohesive research consortium
  • Experience building the capacity of researchers in research methodologies, ethics, framing, proposals, workplan management, and communicating research findings in a diverse range of formats
  • Track record of successful project delivery and stakeholder engagement
  • Experience supervising and managing team performance in a constructive manner
  • Excellent research skills, communication skills (oral and written), analytic skills, and strong interpersonal skills
  • Excellent English language written and oral skills, including strong editing skills and ability to write clearly and concisely for an HMG policy and programmatic audience;
  • Strategic thinking and the ability to align research activities with XCEPT’s objectives


  • UK work authorisation or ability to obtain it required.

Please note: this position is contingent upon funding allocation.

  • Application Closing Date: 14/04/2024
  • Location: Hybrid, London (full-time)
  • Contract Type: Permanent
  • Further Information:



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