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Vacancies – Vacancy

Terms of Reference Developing Standardized Operating Procedures on Research Ethics

Published: 16 December 2021
Deadline proposal: 28 January 2022

1. Introduction and background

To underpin its programmes, policy and advocacy work, Rutgers invests substantially in conducting, as well as commissioning, research, evaluation and data collection and analysis for planning, monitoring and learning. This is used to create a strong evidence base to support the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in the Netherlands and in various contexts around the world, including minors and the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

We are aware of power dynamics (e.g. in the development sector), debates on the decolonization of research and how knowledge produces power (inequities). As part of our focus on human rights and equity, and working on sensitive issues, it is therefore imperative that Rutgers attains to the highest global standards in ethical evidence generation. We understand that ethical conduct and reflection is not a ‘tick the box’ exercise, but something that needs to be kept alive during a research process and within the Rutgers research unit, and therefore needs continuous exploration, discussion and adaptation to the latest available knowledge and insights (from ourselves and external parties).

As part of this work, the research unit aims to establish formal minimum and binding ethical quality standards to guide our research work (incl. monitoring & evaluation, data collection, analysis and dissemination) and to use as reference/criterium for those we contract or collaborate with. Moreover, we want to have a set of reflective questions supporting us to integrate ethical ways of working throughout the research process.

2. Scope of work

Developing the ethical standards and procedures includes the following main steps:

1. Identify and review resources from other institutes, such as UNICEF, Save the Children, GEAS etc that we can use as a basis, including some online courses / certificates staff could follow online.

2. Conduct a few interviews with key stakeholders to identify the best resources and components to include in the standards and procedures.

3. Link to existing documents available at Rutgers (code of conduct, child protection policy, data storage and GDPR).

4. Draft standardized operating procedures and related documents. They should describe:

a. How to conduct research on sensitive topics

b. How to work with minors, incl. guidance on parental consent

c. How to protect research participants

d. How to protect and store data, incl. adhering to GDPR rules

e. How to protect researchers involved in Rutgers’ research

f. How to go about ethical clearance / IRB

g. How to make the results available (to the research participants, stakeholders)

h. A set of reflective questions to help Rutgers staff plan and integrate ethical ways of working in their projects and programmes

i. Good examples of consent forms

j. Possibly other relevant components that were identified during step 1 and 2.

In these components, attention should be paid to different scenarios and ethical dilemmas and describe what considerations should be taken into account.

5. Discuss the draft documents with the researchers and quality officer at Rutgers, and integrate the comments in the final version.

3. Who are we looking for

For this assignment we are looking for a consultant who:

  • Has at least 3 years of experience in the field of research ethics
  • Has expertise with doing research in Low and Middle Income Countries
  • Is preferably also familiar with doing research in the Netherlands
  • Having experience in doing research on sensitive topics is an advantage
  • Is fluent in English, fluency in Dutch is an advantage
  • Has a clear writing style
  • Works meticulously

4. Timeline and indication of hours


The draft documents should be ready for review and discussion late March 2022. The final documents should be ready by May 2022 the latest.

Indication of Hours:

Mapping and reviewing existing documents35
3-5 external interviews and discussions with staff15
Writing draft documents40
Discussing and revising20

Interested? Send in your proposal by Friday 28th of January 2022 to Judith Westeneng: j.westeneng@rutgers.nl. Any questions could be directed to the same email address.

Proposal (max 3 pages) should include:

  • A short description of the envisioned approach
  • An extensive description of your expertise in this field, preferably including 1-3 references
  • Financial proposition