A day in the life of a researcher

I work on a variety of projects with the ultimate goal of developing policies to help address the root causes of poverty and support those most vulnerable to flourish and reach their full potential. This involves identifying problems on the ground, determining local, regional, and national trends, and constructing appropriate policy solutions.

I work within our Family and Education policy units.  Monday mornings begin with a whole-team meeting, often led by our Policy Director. Team members are encouraged to share updates on projects and events.  A guest speaker often joins the meeting to reflect on a particular issue, followed by a Q&A session.  This could be a national journalist, someone from the political world, or a charity worker from our charitable alliance.

Later, I catch-up with my Unit Head and any other members of our policy team and detail the progression of our reports or projects. We offer each other insights, feedback and may invite each other to upcoming events such as roundtables and webinars relating to ongoing work.

If I am managing one of our work experience placements, I take this time to check in on their progress and invite them to join any upcoming meetings or interviews scheduled during the week. These are usually via site visits to grassroots charitable organisations who really know the issues in the communities they serve and have often created novel solutions to deal with them.   I can draw on the resources of our CSJ Foundation to help with this and reflect the reality of policy on the ground, way beyond the Westminster bubble.  111 of our Alliance charities are currently involved in our policy work, with the experience of nearly 150 cited in our reports during 2021.

I spend much of my day working independently on reports. This may include leading desk-based research, designing polling questions, drafting report chapters, or analysing data. Depending on the project, I might conduct a thematic analysis from Serious Case Reviews, Domestic Homicide Reviews, or visualise data from the Office for National Statistics datasets to inform our research.  I am very proud of helping to research and write are our recent report No Honour in Abuse: Harnessing the health service to end Domestic Abuse.

A large part of the role is collaborating with and aiding other members of staff. In some cases, a colleague may be hosting a round table or working group and I will volunteer to take notes. I may help one of my Unit Heads by editing reports in their final stages, preparing PowerPoints for upcoming meetings or report launches, or drafting briefing notes. I might be asked to complete tasks involving the media or website as well. This includes writing blog posts, preparing for a podcast interview following a report release, or meeting with the media team to discuss outreach following report publication.

I like the fact that my role is very varied in terms of content and workload. We have plenty of opportunities of growth through attending workshops and training sessions provided by Smart Thinking or from other organisations that partner with the CSJ.  We also hold a lot of social events and activities and our team certainly knows how to have fun.  I am based in our head office, in the heart of Westminster, and it feels like we are close to the centre of things.  But we also have offices in the North West, North East, and the Midlands, which help us to bring the back streets of Britain closer to the corridors of power.

For me, working as a researcher is incredibly rewarding personally as we collaborate with national and local experts across the UK to develop transformative, evidence-based and experience-led reforms to tackle the principal causes of poverty and social breakdown.

By Alexandra Galvin, Researcher, Centre for Social Justice

10 November 2022

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