Research Assistant CODATA Landscaping Job Description

We are seeking a Research Assistant to contribute to an examination of data which have the potential to reduce the impact of infectious disease outbreaks. The study will examine the availability and gaps in data with the potential to enhance or accelerate public health emergency prediction, preparedness, response, and recovery. Progress on this study will contribute towards a collaboration with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the International Science Council (ISC) on the development of data integration approaches. We seek to achieve a more holistic understanding of the complexity that underlies the challenges that confront humanity by exposing their deep structure through the integration of data across relevant disciplines. 

This full-time, short-term position with salary support is available immediately and is expected to last 6-8 weeks. We are seeking a Research Assistant to support this work by contributing to a review of available literature and data hosting systems; conducting a survey of relevant stakeholders; collecting and summarising data; and abstract/application/report/manuscript writing as per the detailed outline below.  

The position will be based in the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory at the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, but we can be flexible with working location. Candidates must be eligible to work in the UK, and those who already have access to Oxford University systems are especially welcome. If you’re interested or want more details, please send a short paragraph (no more than 200 words) explaining the value of integrating data across disciplines to reduce the impact of infectious disease outbreaks to Laura Merson (laura [dot] merson [at] iddo [dot] org) as soon as possible and before 28 July. 

Summary of responsibilities:

Different types of data are important to prepare for, understand, and respond to public health emergencies. This project will include a review of data types, sources and structures with the aim of identifying those that can be effectively integrated to enable a multidisciplinary understanding and response. In order to understand the landscape of data of relevance to public health emergencies, a Research Assistant will be responsible for the following:


A list of the data types, sources, structures and potential approaches to integration that can contribute to the aims of the project.   

Examine the literature

  • Perform a scoping of grey literature and PubMed cited research from February 2003 to present on the following pathogens: Lassa Fever, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), Marburg, Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), Zika, Chikunguya, with a particular focus on modelling studies and literature originating from the governments and communities affected by these diseases. 
  • Document relevant references, source a copy of select sources and compile a Zotero reference library.
  • Identify the types and sources of data which contribute to the literature identified. This will include but is not limited to, data of the following types: pre-clinical and clinical therapeutic and vaccine product development; surveillance and epidemiology; pathogen genetic data; observational and interventional clinical studies; geographic and environmental data; mobility, communications, internet query and social media data.
  • Complete a spreadsheet of data types, published uses and/or potential uses to address public health emergencies.  Where data access statements exist, record details of where and how data are shared. Record any reference to existing resources.

Describe the data

By internet search or communications with experts and institutions from the literature, identify resources and sources of relevant data types.

  • Compile a list of repositories, websites and institutions hosting datasets.
  • Explore and record the responsible organization, the frequency of update, data quality assurance and quality process.
  • Collect information on data governance by exploring and documenting issues in data access and ownnership for each resource.
  • Obtain a copy of the data dictionary where possible and work with data scientists to define the characteristics of the data structure.

Assist with other study activities such as: data management, analysis and synthesis; and contribute to report/application/manuscript writing and editing.  An understanding of PubMed will be highly valued.