Government Research Officer


    Government research officers undertake research and evaluation activities that provide government departments and local authorities with evidence required for the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies.

    The role involves responsibility for the research and analysis of policy, as well as commissioning and managing research. It is a challenging, fast-moving and diverse role that has a direct impact on many government activities, often at a high-profile level.



    • working on a range of research projects and employing a variety of different research methodologies (if undertaking research internally);
    • discussing and agreeing project requirements with clients (policy officials, ministers);
    • drafting research specifications;
    • agreeing the terms of reference for research;
    • commissioning and project-managing research projects;
    • commenting on draft research instruments, such as questionnaires, and editing draft reports;
    • conducting, or commissioning then analysing, in-depth interviews with members of the public and large-scale data sets;
    • managing junior staff (supervising, encouraging and mentoring);
    • ensuring that research is conducted within a set time frame to meet policy requirements;
    • managing competitive tendering exercises;
    • ensuring quality control of research;
    • providing information and analysis on a policy issue and its development;
    • providing information on what research is already available in a policy area;
    • working in close partnership with external research contractors, other government analysts, and policy colleagues during the course of the research;
    • producing both written and oral briefs for policy colleagues and ministers, based on reviews of research evidence;
    • responding to external and internal research enquiries from colleagues, government departments, academics, local councils, regional development agencies and members of the public;
    • explaining complex ideas and findings in a way that can be easily understood;
    • keeping up to date with developments in policy and social issues, as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods;
    • delivering presentations at conferences.



    For entry into government social research, you need a good first or higher degree in a social science subject, with a substantial social research component. The following subjects may improve your chances:

    • criminology;
    • geography;
    • politics;
    • psychology;
    • social policy;
    • social sciences;
    • sociology.



    • strong social research, social policy and/or numerical skills;
    • a strong interest in the policy process and its impact on government decisions;
    • a high level of knowledge in the use of database software and specialist packages, such as SPSS;
    • strong communication and interpersonal skills;
    • an understanding of the political process;
    • a high level of motivation and initiative;
    • a determination to explore issues thoroughly;
    • the ability to think analytically;
    • good organizational skills;
    • the ability to work well as part of a team.