Research Scholar (Special Projects)

Research Scholar is a one-year visiting position. It is designed to support the career development of AI governance researchers and practitioners — as well as to offer them an opportunity to do high-impact work.

As a Research Scholar, you will have freedom to pursue a wide range of styles of work. This could include conducting policy research, social science research, or relevant technical research; engaging with and advising policymakers; or starting and managing applied projects.

In this round, we would especially like to highlight our interest in candidates who intend to manage projects or launch new initiatives. Illustrative examples include organising policy events, piloting field-building programs, or starting new organisations.

Applications for the Research Scholar position are now open. The deadline for applications is 23:59 BST Sunday 7 July 2024.

Note: There is a single, shared application form and application process for all Research Scholar position listings.

About the Team

GovAI was founded to help humanity navigate the transition to a world with advanced AI. Our first research agenda, published in 2018, helped define and shape the nascent field of AI governance. Our team and affiliate community possess expertise in a wide variety of domains, including AI regulation, responsible development practices, compute governance, AI company corporate governance, US-China relations, and AI progress forecasting.

GovAI researchers have closely advised decision makers in government, industry, and civil society. Our researchers have also published in top peer-reviewed journals and conferences, including International Organization, NeurIPS, and Science. Our alumni have gone on to roles in government, in both the US and UK; top AI companies, including DeepMind, OpenAI, and Anthropic; top think tanks, including the Centre for Security and Emerging Technology and RAND; and top universities, including the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

Although we are based in Oxford, United Kingdom — and currently have an especially large UK policy focus — we also have team members in the United States and European Union.

About the Role

Research Scholar is a one-year visiting position. It is designed to support the career development of AI governance researchers and practitioners — as well as to offer them an opportunity to do high-impact work.

As a Research Scholar, you will have freedom to pursue a wide range of styles of work. This could include conducting policy research, social science research, or technical research; engaging with and advising policymakers; or launching and managing applied projects.

For example, past and present Scholars have used the role to:

Over the course of the year, you will also deepen your understanding of the field, connect with a network of experts, and build your skills and professional profile, all while working within an institutional home that offers both flexibility and support.

You will receive research supervision from a member of the GovAI team or network. The frequency of supervisor meetings and feedback will vary depending on supervisor availability, although once-a-week or once-every-two-weeks supervision meetings are typical. There will also be a number of additional opportunities for Research Scholars to receive feedback, including internal work-in-progress seminars. You will receive further support from an additional mentor chosen from within the organisation.

Note that for researchers with significant AI governance research experience, we are also hiring for Research Fellows. Research Fellow positions are longer-term roles, offering two-year renewable contracts, which place less emphasis on career exploration and more emphasis on contributing to existing or planned workstreams. There is a shared application for the Research Scholar and Research Fellow roles, so you need only submit the application once.

Highlighted Interest Area: Special Projects

In this round, we would especially like to highlight our interest in candidates who intend to manage projects or launch new initiatives.

Some of our most impactful Research Scholars have dedicated the majority of their time to areas other than research and policy engagement. Example projects include organising high-impact events, serving as a project manager for policy engagement work, and launching a new organisation to facilitate international dialogue.

For this reason, we are open to Research Scholar candidates who would primarily focus on applied work. As one example: we are open to candidates who are exploring launching new AI governance organisations and would benefit from the expertise and environment that GovAI can offer.

Qualifications and Selection Criteria

We are open to candidates with a wide range of backgrounds. We have previously hired or hosted researchers with academic backgrounds in computer science, political science, public policy, economics, history, philosophy, and law. We are also interested in candidates with professional backgrounds in government, industry, and civil society.

For all candidates, we will look for:

  • A strong interest in using their career to positively influence the lasting impact of artificial intelligence, in line with our organisation’s mission
  • Demonstrated ability to produce excellent work (typically research outputs) or achieve impressive results
  • Self-direction and proactivity
  • The ability to evaluate and prioritise projects on the basis of impact
  • A commitment to intellectual honesty and rigour
  • Receptiveness to feedback and commitment to self-improvement
  • Strong communication skills
  • Collaborativeness and motivation to help others succeed
  • Some familiarity with the field of AI governance
  • Some expertise in a domain that is relevant to AI governance
  • A compelling explanation of how the Research Scholar position may help them to have a large impact

For candidates who are hoping to do particular kinds of work (e.g. technical research) or work on particular topics (e.g. US policy), we will also look for expertise and experience that is relevant to the particular kind of work they intend to do.

There are no educational requirements for the role. We have previously made offers to candidates at a wide variety of career stages. However, we expect that the most promising candidates will typically have either graduate degrees or relevant professional experience.

Duration, Location, and Salary

Duration

Contracts will be for a fixed 12-month term. Although renewal is not an option for these roles, Research Scholars may apply for longer-term positions at GovAI — for instance, Research Fellow positions — once their contracts end.

Location

Although GovAI is based in Oxford, UK, we are a hybrid organisation. Historically, a slight majority of our Research Scholars have actually chosen to be based in countries other than the UK. However, in some cases, we do have significant location preferences:

  • If a candidate plans to focus heavily on work related to a particular government’s policies, then we prefer that the candidate is primarily based in or near the most relevant city. For example, if someone plans to focus heavily on US federal policy, we will tend to prefer that they are based in or near Washington, DC.

  • If a candidate would likely be involved in managing projects or launching new initiatives to a significant degree, then we will generally prefer that they are primarily based out of our Oxford office.

  • Some potential Oxford-based supervisors (e.g. Ben Garfinkel) also have a significant preference for their supervisees being primarily based in Oxford.

If you have location restrictions - and concerns about your ability to work remotely might prevent you from applying - please inquire at recruitment@governance.ai. Note that we are able to sponsor both UK visas and US visas.

Salary

Depending on their experience, we expect that successful candidates’ annual compensation will typically fall between £60,000 and £75,000 if based in Oxford, UK. If a Research Scholar resides predominantly in a city with a higher cost of living, their salary will be adjusted to account for the difference. As a reference point, a Research Scholar based in Washington, DC would typically receive between $85,000 and $115,000. In rare cases where salary considerations would prevent a candidate from accepting an offer, there may also be some flexibility in compensation.

Benefits associated with the role include health, dental, and vision insurance, a £5,000 (~$6,000) annual wellbeing budget, an annual commuting budget, flexible work hours, extended parental leave, ergonomic equipment, a 10% employer pension contribution, and 33 days of paid vacation (including public holidays).

Please inquire with recruitment@governance.ai if questions or concerns regarding compensation or benefits might affect your decision to apply.

How to Apply and What to Expect

The application process consists of a written submission in the first round, a paid remote work test in the second round, and a final interview round. The interview round usually consists of one interview but might involve an additional interview in some cases. We also conduct reference checks for all candidates we interview.

Please feel free to reach out to recruitment@governance.ai if you would need a decision communicated by a particular date, if you need assistance with the application due to a disability, or if you have questions about the application process.

We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, and we encourage individuals with underrepresented perspectives and backgrounds to apply. We especially encourage applications from women, gender minorities, people of colour, and people from regions other than North America and Western Europe who are excited about contributing to our mission. We are an equal opportunity employer.

Apply now
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