Research Department, New Naratif

Position : Research Assistant (RA)

Working Hours : full-time, 40hrs per week

Level : Junior

Salary Offered : US$750/- to US$950/- (variable depending on experience)

Location : Online/Digital within any one of the eleven Southeast Asian countries

Reporting to : Research Manager (RM) – direct line supervisor, currently filled by Managing Director (MD). In the absence of RM/MD, the position reports to Operations Manager as de-facto head of the organisation.

Peers : Administrators

Forms part of : Research Team

Qualifications : As a Southeast Asian candidate (preferred), the RA must have native-level English ability (spoken and written) and, preferably, fluency in one or more official Singaporean languages. The RA should have a minimum Bachelor’s degree preferably in history, political science, social science, or anthropology, with minimum 1 year of research experience. 

Travel Required : Domestically and Internationally as and when necessary and approved by MD. 

Type of Contract : Contracts issued from April 1st to March 31, renewable annually, based on performance and funding available.

New Naratif is a movement for democracy in Southeast Asia, and our fundamental mission is to build capacity for democracy amongst our members and audience. We publish information, build communities, and empower people to create positive change. We operate like a hybrid of a creative storytelling studio, community organiser and mobiliser, and a think tank. Learn more about us

At New Naratif, our research isn’t merely about the research. The act of research is also part of our praxis of democracy in Southeast Asia. In conducting our research, we emphasise listening to the people of Southeast Asia, understanding their lived experiences, and documenting this to build a corpus of how democracy is pursued, fought for, lived, and practised in Southeast Asia. 

The act of research also brings people together, helping to form a shared consciousness and awareness of the problems that confront us across the region, and exchanging/brainstorming solutions that help us all. Our research is about finding and delivering what people need to know about an issue in order to create change and take control of their lives.

As Research Assistant, you will assist Dr. Thum Ping Tjin, our Managing Director and Research Manager, with his research. Your joint research priority will be explaining and exploring the forces which shape Southeast Asian lives, in particular in Singapore. This will be very diverse: you could be finding examples of politicians’ hypocrisy on YouTube, reading politicians’ statements in print, finding the right meme to explain a difficult concept, or reading through regulations. You won’t conduct original research; rather, you’ll conduct desk-based research under the direction of Dr. Thum. 

However, you may occasionally need to help run a focus group discussion, support New Naratif’s other researchers, support our democracy classrooms, or contribute research and input for our editorial outputs.

The Research Department functions as New Naratif’s internal think tank, researching important themes and offering input into other departmental outputs, producing articles (like our “Explainers”), contributing handouts and reading lists to our democracy classrooms, advising and supporting our campaigns (like “The Citizens’ Agenda”) with research materials, conducting original research (like our media freedom project), and generally listening to Southeast Asians. You are  a resource for the organisation as a whole. You’ll be working closely with your fellow Researchers and all departments across the organisation, giving input into all of New Naratif’s outputs.

This position would suit someone who loves research and wishes to gain diverse and hands-on experience in conducting public interest research on Singapore and the Southeast Asian region. It would also suit someone who has a deep interest in Singapore. This position does not require experience, beyond a Bachelor’s Degree, but more than 1-year of experience in conducting secondary research, literature reviews, and research writing would be considered a bonus. You should be passionate about Southeast Asia and making Southeast Asian lives better.

What you’ll be doing

As a Research Assistant, your main focus is to conduct research under the direction of Dr Thum. Responsibilities include: 

  1. Participate in New Naratif’s meetings as may be required.
  2. Conduct research, and support existing research, under the direction of Dr Thum as may be required.
  3. Help implement/apply research conducted to New Naratif’s outputs, including editorial, community, civic participation, research, and other outputs.
  4. Support New Naratif activities as may be required, including events, campaigns, and research activities.
  5. Comment on and give feedback on any New Naratif output related to your area of expertise.
  6. Contribute to the implementation of New Naratif strategy as part of your country/region team.

What you won’t be doing

  • You will not be expected to conduct your own research, but feel free to propose research projects addressing your own interests, as long as they are aligned with New Naratif’s vision, mission and thematic focus.
  • You will not be creating or formulating strategy. Instead, the Research Manager will set the strategy and you’ll help execute it.
  • You will not be working alone. This is a collaborative role with the rest of the research team.

What we’re looking for

Strong candidates will have the following capabilities:

1. Research Skills. You’re trying to shed light on the forces which shape Southeast Asia. A background in history, sociology, anthropology, law, or political science would be helpful. You’re going to have to find ways to understand how our region works, and how Southeast Asians think about democracy and other deeply contested political issues, amidst an oppressive political environment. You’re going to have to be innovative about getting to the heart of our complex region.

What is your research experience? 

2. Writing Skills. New Naratif prides ourselves on producing in-depth, evidence-based insightful work that explores and explains the forces which shaped how Southeast Asians think and act – and doing so in an accessible manner. 

Can you write clearly and concisely? Can you do so on a deadline? Please send us two samples of your writing.

3. Teamwork. New Naratif has no office. We all work remotely. We’re all passionate, and deeply principled. We aspire to a high level of moral values. We’re here to model best practices as a transparent, ethical, progressive organisation. We’ll demand all this from you and hold you accountable. 

Tell us about your experience collaborating online.

4. Empathy for the marginalised and voiceless of Southeast Asia. New Naratif is first and foremost a platform for the people of Southeast Asia to imagine and then create a better Southeast Asia. You need to love and understand this region and its history, in all its complexity and diversity. You need to be willing to learn, explore, and grow alongside this region. It means you need to look beyond the borders and boundaries which are currently imposed on us. We want your experience of living in a Southeast Asian country, your connectivity to the communities, knowing everyday local experiences, concerns and challenges which reflect in your work and outputs you supervise. 

What does Southeast Asia mean to you?

Application Process

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of building capacity for change in Southeast Asia, please send an email to jobs AT with your CV, cover letter answering the questions above, and at least two examples of your written work. 

Please provide the names and contact information of two character referees, at least one of whom should be familiar with your recent professional work (e.g. a colleague or supervisor) and neither of whom should be related to you.

Shortlisted candidates will have 2 interview rounds, including a technical challenge. We anticipate the process will last around a month. Following your appointment, you would undergo a three-month trial period.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Therefore, we encourage you to submit an application as soon as possible, as the process may close once we feel a sufficient number of applications are received or a suitable candidate has been found.

More Information

The role is a junior position, meaning that you will be given clearly defined tasks and responsibilities, and will report to Dr Thum Ping Tjin.

  • You have to be responsible, communicate and collaborate well online and be willing to work from home or your own choice of location as long as you are digitally connected with your team and provide the necessary remote supervision and ensure the work schedule is smooth and uninterrupted. 
  • We collaborate chiefly using WordPress, Google Workspace, Wire, and Trello. 

Benefits include 

  • 28 days of personal leave per year
  • 12 days of public holiday leave per year (which can be taken on any public or religious holiday of your choice), and 
  • 1 session of company-paid mental health therapy per month. 

New Naratif contracts are governed by UK law, on a consultancy basis, and typically are for one year at a time, renewable at the end of every financial year (31 March). 

New Naratif is a not-for-profit, private company, limited by guarantee, registered in the United Kingdom and Malaysia, and headquartered in Kuala Lumpur. 

We are committed to creating an inclusive workplace for all employees regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, or disability. 

We have a strong preference for Southeast Asians who have personal experience of and understand being marginalised and oppressed.


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