To catalyze the Kenyan tech community’s growth.


Research Assistant1

  • Company: Oxford Internet Institute
  • Deadline: Thursday 21st July 2011
  • Location: Oxford
Job Description


Applications are invited from suitably-qualified individuals for a full-time Research Assistant or Postdoctoral Research Fellow position, associated with the newly-funded project supported by the ESRC and DFID: The Promises of Fibre-Optic Broadband: A Pipeline for Economic Development in East Africa. The project aims to examine predicted and observable effects of faster broadband Internet in Kenya and Rwanda in order to contribute to academic and policy debates surrounding connectivity and Internet access in low-income countries.


The University 

The University of Oxford is a complex and stimulating organisation, which enjoys an international reputation as a world-class centre of excellence in research and teaching. It employs over 10,000 staff and has a student population of over 21,000. 


Most staff are directly appointed and managed by one of the University’s 130 departments or other units within a highly devolved operational structure - this includes 5,900 ‘academic-related’ staff (postgraduate research, computing, senior library, and administrative staff) and 2,820 ‘support’ staff (including clerical, library, technical, and manual staff). There are also over 1,600 academic staff (professors, readers, lecturers), whose appointments are in the main overseen by a combination of broader divisional and local faculty board/departmental structures. Academics are generally all also employed by one of the 38 constituent colleges of the University as well as by the central University itself. 


Our annual income in 2009/10 was £879.8m. Oxford is one of Europe's most innovative and entrepreneurial universities: income from external research contracts exceeds £367m p.a., and more than 60 spin-off companies have been created.


For more information please visit

The Oxford Internet Institute

About the OII:

The Oxford Internet Institute has expanded rapidly since its founding in 2001 to become a leading world centre for the multidisciplinary study of the Internet and society, with activities focusing on research, post-graduate teaching and policy-making and practice. 


The OII aims to bring about a greater understanding of the various social factors that are shaping the Internet and their implications for society. Central to this vision is a view of the Internet as a phenomenon that goes far beyond its technical capabilities to encompass all the people, services, information, and technologies that are intertwined in this 'network of networks'. Excellence in research underpins the Institute's collaborative and teaching activities. Wide-ranging collaborative relationships with experts from academe, government, business, and industry in the UK and around the world also play a central role in its strategic drive.



The OII’s research strategy has targeted five areas critical to the public interest, where the design and use of the Internet and related technologies are likely to contribute to a substantial restructuring of social practice and institutional arrangements. Having developed critical mass in these areas, the OII’s strategy for the next five years is geared towards deepening and extending the range of grant-funded research around each theme and disseminating the outputs in high-quality journals, while ensuring that research helps inform and shape policy and practice.


The five current research foci examine the role of the Internet and other ICTs in:

  • government and democracy: where ICTs offer significant opportunities for restructuring practices and institutions, for example in the management and delivery of government services and the functioning of governance processes
  • research and learning: focusing on the use and impact of ICTs within academic and research communities and the social and institutional contexts in which this takes place
  • everyday life and work: covering the role of the Internet and other ICTs in personal interactions in the household, the arts, and entertainment, and the needs of individuals and the wider community in work, social relationships, leisure, and activities in other arenas that bring society online
  • shaping the Internet: how rapidly developing ICTs are liberated or constrained, including how the Internet itself is governed. 
  • network economy: how ICTs reshape business models, markets and economic development.


The intention is to give OII research a clear direction, while remaining flexible enough to be adapted as new research staff arrive and develop their own research trajectories, reflecting wider changes in this emerging field of study.  This strategy is geared towards developing and extending the range of grant-funded research, disseminating the outputs to a wide range of audiences, and ensuring that research helps inform and shape policy and practice. 


In all its research, the OII aims to operate at the cutting edge in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies that cut across disciplines and topics. Methodological innovation is vital given the changing nature of the Internet and advances in ICTs which both necessitate and facilitate the development of new techniques. OII researchers are developing methodologies such as the embedding of ICTs for real time observation of social phenomenon; webmetric techniques for observing the underlying structure of the web presence of social institutions; artificial intelligence design; experimental research; on-line action research; content analysis; investigation of virtual environments; and online survey research.



As part of its mission to train the next generation of internet researchers, the OII has set up a full time programme for postgraduate research students leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences. This is complemented by a very successful summer doctoral programme: an intensive two week course for doctoral students from around the world. In October 2009 the OII welcomed its first Masters students to a ten month taught MSc course on Social Science of the Internet. 


Academic and Research staffing of the OII

Current academic and research staff of the OII are as follows. Further details can be found at 


Professors and Departmental Officers

Professor William Dutton, Director, Professor of Internet Studies

Professor Helen Margetts, Professor of Society and the Internet

Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation

Dr Ralph Schroeder, Director of Research

Dr Victoria Nash, Director of Graduate Studies, Policy and Research Fellow


Faculty Members

Dr Grant Blank, Survey Research Fellow

Dr Ian Brown, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Monica Bulger, Research Fellow

Dr Cristobal Cobo, Research Fellow

Dr Kathryn Eccles, Research Fellow

Dr Rebecca Eynon, Research Fellow and Lecturer in e-Learning

Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, Research Fellow

Dr Mark Graham, Research Fellow

Dr Bernie Hogan, Research Fellow 

Dr Eric Meyer, Research Fellow

Professor Christopher Millard, Senior Research Fellow 

Dr Anne-Marie Oostveen, Research Fellow

Dr Greg Taylor, Research Fellow

Dr Joss Wright, Fresnel Research Fellow


Further information:

Further details about the Oxford Internet Institute can be found on our web site: 

Job description:

Research topic

The Promises of Fibre-Optic Broadband: A Pipeline for Economic Development in East Africa

Principal Investigator / supervisor 

Dr Mark Graham

Project team 

Dr. Mark Graham, Professor Tim Waema, Dr. Felix Akorli

Project web site

Funding partner 

The funds supporting this research project are provided by an ESRC-DFID grant


The successful candidate will play a major role in carrying out research into altered economic geographies in Kenya and Rwanda, with a focus on the region’s nascent business process outsourcing industry.  


East Africa was the world’s last major region without fibre-optic broadband Internet access, and until the summer of 2009 had been forced to rely on slow and costly satellite connections for access. However, the region has recently been connected via fibre-optic cable thus, in theory, allowing much greater speeds at much lower prices. Employing case-studies in Kenya and Rwanda, this project examines the expectations and stated potentials of broadband Internet and compares those expectations to on-the-ground effects that broadband connectivity is having in three economic sectors: tea production (a core commodity-based export-oriented industry in both countries), ecotourism (a key element of the tourism industry in East Africa) and business process outsourcing (an emerging growth industry in both countries producing intangible products and services). The project begins by performing a detailed textual analysis of discourses produced and reproduced by influential figures in the public, private and civil society sectors surrounding the perceived effects of broadband connectivity. Surveys and in-depth interviews will then be conducted at selected small and medium sized firms to study the existing communications ecology, and any potential effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and broadband connectivity on the three selected economic sectors.


The five research questions asked in this project are: 

  1. how are the potential effects of the East African fibre optic link represented in political and public discourse within Kenya and Rwanda?; 
  2. how are ICTs, including mobile devices, old satellite and new broadband Internet connectivity, variably integrated into value chains and flows of knowledge, commodities and capital?; 
  3. are any sectors characterised by innovative uses of broadband connectivity or unexpected challenges to broadband use?; 
  4. how are changes in the use of methods of communication and Internet access linked to altered socio-economic conditions of economic actors?; and 
  5. how do those changes differ from academic, public and political discourses surrounding potential effects?

The researcher will work most closely on the business process outsourcing and textual analysis components of this project (the tea and tourism sectors will receive more focus from the Kenya and Rwanda teams). However, the researcher will work closely with the entire project team for all work-packages in order to ensure the successful completion of this research. 




1. Project-based Research

(a) Desk based research and data collection from the UK

(b) Extended fieldwork in Kenya and Rwanda

(c) Analysis of all collected data

(d) Maintenance of an up-to-date understanding of current debates and research related to development studies, East Africa, economic geography, and information and communication technologies.


2. Project based administration:

(a) General day-to-day administration of the project and coordination with all project partners.

(b) Assisting in the planning and deployment of open meetings to disseminate results.

(c) Presenting of research at international conferences

(d) Publication of results in academic journal articles, book chapters, blogs, and project reports


3. Data analysis:

(a) Managing all open-ended survey responses, interviews and other textual data in NVivo.

(b) Content and discourse analysis of all textual material using qualitative techniques.

(c) Analysis of survey data using statistical techniques.


4. Such other project-related duties as may be required by Dr Graham.


Selection criteria:


Candidates will be expected to demonstrate the following.


Essential attributes:

  • A graduate or postgraduate qualification in one of the social sciences. Candidates with PhDs or equivalent may be eligible to be hired as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. 
  • Experience of social science research in Development Studies, Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, Communications or related disciplines
  • Training in qualitative research methodology, practical experience in relating methodology to research goals
  • Experience with quantitative research methods and ability to use SPSS, STATA or related statistical packages.
  • Ability to work flexibly, prioritising workload to meet given deadlines and maintain a high standard of accuracy and attention to detail
  • Interpersonal skills relevant to working with colleagues as part of a team at the OII

Desirable additional attributes

  • Experience of academic or project work in low-income countries.
  • Interest in and enthusiasm for the work of the OII


Working at the University of Oxford

For further information about working at Oxford, please see:

How to apply

If you consider that you meet the selection criteria, visit, click on the Apply Now button on the ‘Job Details’ page and follow the on-screen instructions to register as a user. You will then be required to complete a number of screens with your application details, relating to your skills and experience. When prompted, please provide details of two referees and indicate whether we can contact them at this stage. You will also be required to upload two writing samples that indicative of your academic interests (e.g. journal articles, PhD chapters etc), a CV and supporting statement. The supporting statement should describe what you have been doing over at least the last 10 years.  This may have been employment, education, or you may have taken time away from these activities in order to raise a family, care for a dependant, or travel for example.  Your application will be judged solely on the basis of how you demonstrate that that you meet the selection criteria outlined above and we are happy to consider evidence of transferable skills or experience which you may have gained outside the context of paid employment or education.


Please save all uploaded documents to show your name and the document type.  


All applications must be received by midday on the closing date stated in the online advertisement.


Should you experience any difficulties using the online application system, please email