Research roles are found in academia, advocacy and policy development, in international or environmental organisations, as well as financial services, market and social research…the list goes on. What underpins the work is a desire to use research methods, to design research activities, conduct investigations, analyse findings, write up and present reports. Your outputs might shape policy decisions or evaluate existing policy.
It’s a popular sector with LSE graduates and you’ll find alumni working in many different types of organisation. Many will have done a Master's qualification; nearly all researchers in academia will have done, or be doing, a PhD. As you progress in your career it’s common either to develop expertise in a type of research method or to become a specialist in a particular field.
Where can you work?
- Academia – in a research centre, conducting and promoting research, or in a department where you will also teach and carry out other tasks associated with higher education.
- Think tanks and foundations – employ researchers permanently or on short-term contracts. There are many think tanks all over the world. Smart Thinking and The University of Pennsylvania's Go To Global Index are useful sources of information.
- Government (local and central) and other policy makers – allthe main UK government departments employ social researchers. A useful starting point is the Government Social Research website.
- Agencies – focus on a range of topics, e.g. employment, social services, education, the environment, health and transport. Examples of employers include: NatCen Social Research, ScotCen and IPSOS Mori. The Social Research Association provides information on agencies providing social research in the UK, searchable by topic and/or research method.
- Market research agencies – may work across a range of sectors or specialise. Examples of large agencies with international reach include Mintel, npd, WPP, IHS Markit and Kantar. In-house market research is conducted by many organisations. The Research Buyers Guide provides information on companies and consultants offering market research services.
- Charities and pressure groups – many charities, political parties, trade unions, pressure and lobby groups employ permanent and freelance research staff.
- International and multilateral organisations, and development consultancies – the bigger NGOs, e.g. Save the Children, employ research staff to conduct studies, pilots and evaluations of policy. Multilaterals such as the World Bank, UN, EU also employ researchers and sometimes have specific PhD entry points. The smaller consultancies employ researchers to research and write funding documents or to evaluate work for their clients. Specialist consultancies include Coffey, RAND, Ecorys, IMC and Dalberg. There is a list of development consultancies at www.weitzenegger.de.docon/index.html
- Environmental consultancies – the ENDS directory lists more than 1000 consultancies and the Green Directory is a searchable directory of environmental organisations.
- Broadcast and social media – researchers assist with all aspects of media production from ideas to execution. They find information, people and places for media producers and so have a different focus from researchers in other sectors.
- Financial services – analysts working in the finance industry have a range of specialisms, e.g. in equity, investment, corporate finance or wealth management. Finding, analysing, reporting and presenting data are common tasks. High level quantitative skills are often required.
What’s changing in the sector?
Increasingly, large agencies are offering their clients different types of research work, including social research, market research and user evaluation. Technology will continue to influence the methods used and the reporting of findings. Being able to help a client publicise findings and implement change based on findings is increasingly part of the service offered.
CareerHub – jobs board targeting LSE students, including events and networking opportunities.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Jobs
Jobs.ac.uk – for social research jobs in higher education as well as academic positions
Find a PhD.com
Research Job Finder
Social Research Association Jobs
W4MP.org – for vacancies and internships in Parliament, pressure groups, campaigns and public affairs.
Civil Service job search – a searchable list. Look for job roles such as social research, policy, market research.
Civil Service Fast Stream
Government Social Research Service
Local Government graduate training scheme – known as NGDP.
Evergreen Resources – specialist recruitment agency for environment jobs.
We subscribe to four specialist jobsites: Policy Jobs, Political Jobs, Human Rights Jobs, Ethical Jobs. Scroll down to ‘Exclusive jobsites’ and follow the instructions. Each site lists job vacancies internationally, but with a focus on UK, USA, Canada and Europe.
Market Research Society
Social Research Association
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Third Sector Research Centre
Green Career Guide