Research Team Leader, “Monitoring Hate Speech in the Arab Region” Regional Initiative

Location : Home Based
Application Deadline :28-Sep-19 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
Arabic   English   French  
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
Duration of Initial Contract :80 days over a period of 9 months


Social and cultural diversity in the Arab region is facing increasing threats due to various internal and external factors, be it socio-political, economic, environmental or geopolitical. The erosion of state structures in some Arab countries and structurally weak institutions that lack the mandate to enforce inclusive citizenship are among the driving forces behind identitarian (or identity-based) polarization and propaganda, and this has contributed to the rise of hate speech in many Arab countries. At the same time, freedom of speech and expression has been witnessing a setback in recent years, despite resistance from citizens who are becoming more vocal in voicing their demands given the expansion of the informal public space made possible by advancement in information and communication technology (ICT).

In the Arab region, mobile-cellular subscriptions have increased by around 40% between 2010 and 2018 and estimated to have reached a penetration rate of 103% by the end of 2018. The percentage of individuals (% of total population) using the internet in the Arab region is also expected to have more than doubled by the end of 2018, levelling at 54.7% up from 24% in 2010.[1] Social media has also grown into a powerful tool of political and social interaction and opened the door for not only self-expression but also for collective expression of various groups. The total number of monthly active Twitter users in the Arab region is estimated to have reached 11.1 million in March 2017, up from 5.8 million in 2014, of which 29% are in Saudi Arabia and 18% in Egypt. Out of the 166 million internet users in 13 Arab countries, 66% (or 110 million) have opened Facebook accounts by December 2017.[2]

With the aim to capitalize on the potential of big data and AI technologies, the “Monitoring Hate Speech in the Arab Region” regional initiative will explore the use of these under-utilized and promising technologies - without compromising impartiality, privacy rights, and methodological/conceptual soundness – to monitor and understand the rise of hate speech in a world that is being shaped by new developments in ICT and rapidly increasing mobile phone and internet penetration. Online platforms are viewed as having indirectly triggered the rise of violent content by offering a relatively inexpensive space to disseminate and build up a community of followers, and studies have argued that social media platforms tend to offer more visibility to negative. It has been argued that an open space of freedom of expression has indirectly led to the spread of hate speech and discriminatory language, especially against groups that are considered an easy target outside virtual space. In one way, the virtual space has mimicked the power relations that exist in the non-virtual world, giving power to specific groups to attach more marginalized groups, and this unbalanced power dynamics is being maintained by the de facto legal and institutional framework that does not treat all citizens equally in some Arab countries

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the supervision of the Project Manager and Technical Specialist, the “Monitoring Hate Speech in the Arab Region” regional initiative is looking to recruit a Research Team Leader to lead a multidisciplinary research team to develop a taxonomy and machine learning model for identifying, classifying and analyzing hate speech in online news and a social media platform. The Team Leader will mentor a team of country researchers, data scientists and computer scientists on the use of big data techniques for the purpose of producing hate speech taxonomy, coding textual data, monitoring trends and patterns, identifying drivers, analyzing causal relationships and inter-group dynamics, and attempting to predict hate speech occurrences. The Research Team Leader will develop a research methodology that will meet the multi-layered objectives of this initiative, including the preparation of the coding manuals and data to instruct computer algorithms in processing big data and ensure output data quality to allow complex analyses of hate speech in the selected countries. S/He will ensure that the work adheres to a solid conceptual framework and that the data model is theoretically grounded.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Contribute to defining the role and supervising the work of a multidisciplinary core team and country research teams for 2 Arab countries:

  • Core team will include 1 data and computer scientist, 1 behavioral-data scientist and a data visualization specialist;  
  • Country research teams will include a social media specialist, social scientist and a resource person;

The Research Team Leader will:

  • Advise on research work flow and lines of quality assurance between team members;
  • Define and track deliverables and ensure that they are submitted to UNDP on time;
  • Review work submitted by core team members before sharing it with UNDP;
  • Submit a detailed work plan that captures workflow between core team members; and
  • Alert UNDP when unforeseen limitations or challenges that affect deliverables and time frame and propose reasonable solutions;

Develop a hate speech conceptual framework and leading background qualitative research on monitoring and drivers of hate speech:

  • Formulate a functional definition of hate speech, in line with UN Declaration of Human Rights, UN Secretary General Action Plan on Hate speech and relevant country legislation and based on UNDP’s background research.
  • Propose a hate speech conceptual framework that looks into socio-economic and political drivers of hate speech, with reference to theories on inter-group dynamics and linking it to existing literature on monitoring hate speech.
  • Guide the research of country teams by proposing a structure of country briefs to map out hate speech incidents in their respective country (content, target groups, etc.) and review consolidated work submitted by country research team (after being reviewed by UNDP Team).

Lead the process of developing a taxonomy and machine learning model for identifying, classifying and analyzing hate speech in 2 Arab countries:

  • The coding handbook will use the handbook developed by the UN Global Pulse (four-dimensional model) but will also include – at least - a dimension that captures whether online verbal content moves outside the virtual world and becomes a collective action in the respective countries.
  • Work together with a multi-disciplinary team to determine what data is needed for analysis and whether the coding handbook covers all necessary dimensions.
  • Advise on size of content to be initially coded and sufficient sample to pilot.
  • Contribute to developing a data set processes for data modeling, mining and production.
  • Advise on data pipelines to collect data from different sources, while taking into consideration existence of different dialects and languages in each country.
  • Implement statistical data quality procedures to capture potential bias, irregularities, and address statistical errors.

Here, it is important to note that rolling-out will start in one country before moving to another country. The outcome of this process is the production of a Glossary of Hate Speech and a Hate Speech Codebook in 2 countries.

Supervise the production of 2 country reports on hate speech and draft a consolidated executive report titled “Using big data modeling to monitor hate speech in the Arab Region: Findings, Opportunities and Limitations”:

  • Review research work submitted by country researchers;
  • Assess scalability opportunities and challenges/limitations;
  • Consolidate a final report that on the operational framework of monitoring hate speech in the selected countries, analysis of main findings and drivers of hate speech in each country, including a detailed and clear methodological annex and a section on how to scale-up research.
  • Contribute to producing a 10-page executive summary and a visual narrative on the work conducted.
  • Produce an interactive power point on findings.



  • Demonstrates integrity and fairness, by modeling the UN/UNDP’s values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission and strategic goals of UNDP;
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability.


  • Excellent writings skills
  • Good teamwork and interpersonal skills;
  • Flexibility and ability to handle multiple tasks and work under pressure;

Knowledge Management and Learning

  • Ability to strongly promote and build knowledge products;
  • Demonstrates strong oral and written communication skills;


  • Mature judgment and initiative.

Required Skills and Experience

Academic Qualifications 

  • PhD in Social Sciences (Sociology, Political Science, Anthropology, Political Psychology) or Economics and at least 13 years of conducting and leading quantitative research.

Work experience

  • Experience in at least one of the fields is a must: social cohesion, inter-group relationships, political violence and societal polarization;
  • Proven track record in leading complex research projects in the Arab region;
  • Solid quantitative and analytical skills;
  • Strong understanding of big data analytics, deep learning and AI;
  • Strong written and oral communication skills;
  • Strong interpersonal skills and able to coordinate with diverse team members;
  • Experience in the usage of statistical software packages;
  • Previous experience working for the UN is a strong advantage.

Language Requirements

  • Language proficiency in English, French and Arabic is required.


  • The individual is required to exhibit his or her full-time commitment with UNDP-RBAS during the number of working days specified in the contract;
  • S/He shall perform tasks under the general guidance and direct supervision of the Project Manager of the “Monitoring Hate Speech in the Arab Region” regional initiative. The supervision of the Project Manager will include approvals/acceptance of the outputs as identified in the previous section;
  • The individual is expected to liaise and collaborate in the course of performing the work with other consultants, suppliers and UNDP colleagues;
  • The individual is required to maintain close communication with UNDP-RBAS on regular and needed basis at any period throughout the assignment in order to monitor progress. In the event of any delay, s/he will inform UNDP promptly so that decisions and remedial action may be taken accordingly;
  • Should UNDP deem it necessary, it reserves the right to commission additional inputs, reviews or revisions, as needed to ensure the quality and relevance of the work.


The duration of the work is expected to be 80 working days from contract signature date, over a period of 9 months.


  • This assignment is home-based.
  • If unforeseen travel outside the consultant home based city is requested by UNDP and not required by the Terms of References (ToR), such travel shall be covered by UNDP in line with applicable rules and regulations and upon prior written agreement. In such cases, the consultant shall receive living allowances not exceeding the United Nations (UN) Daily Subsistence Allowance (DSA) rate for such other location(s).


Interested individual consultants must submit the following documents/information to demonstrate their qualifications. Candidates that fail to submit the required information will not be considered.

  1. Duly accomplished Letter of Confirmation of Interest and Availability using the template provided by UNDP;
  2. Personal CV, indicating all past experience from similar projects, as well as the contact details (email and telephone number) of the Candidate and at least three (3) professional references;
  3. Brief description of why the individual considers him/herself as the most suitable for the assignment, including references to how she/he will approach and complete the assignment.

Interested candidates shall submit above documents to the Job Advertisement Website:  as one document not later than 28th September 2019.

Interested candidates can find Procurement notice, letter of confirmation of interest and availability and P11

Please do not submit financial proposal in this stage.  Financial proposal shall be requested from Candidates who are considered technically responsive


Individual consultants will be evaluated based on the following methodologies:

Step I: Screening and desk review:

Individual consultants will be evaluated based on the following methodology.

Applications will be first screened and only candidates meeting the following minimum requirements will progress to the pool for shortlisting:

  1. PhD degree in social sciences or economics.
  2. Minimum 13 years of experience conducting and leading quantitative research in the Arab region.
  3. Language proficiency in English, French and Arabic.

Technical evaluation Criteria max 100 points (Weighted 70):

  • PhD degree in social sciences (10 points);
  • 15 years of relevant quantitative research experience (10 points);
  • Previous relevant experience in demonstrating ability to coordinate projects with international organizations (10 points)
  • Strong writing skills (experience consolidating reports, drafting statistical and data modeling methodology notes, etc.) (10 points)
  • Language proficiency in English, French and Arabic is required (10 points).
  • Experience in at least one of the fields is a must: social cohesion, inter-group relationships, political violence and societal polarization (10 points);
  • Proven track record in leading complex research projects in the Arab region (10 points);
  • Solid quantitative and analytical skills (10 points);
  • Strong understanding of big data analytics, deep learning and AI (10 points);
  • Experience in the usage of statistical software packages (10 points);

Financial Criteria - 30% of total evaluation

For those offers considered in the financial evaluation, the lowest price offer will receive 30 points.                 
The other offers will receive points in relation to the lowest offer, based on the following formula:
(PI / Pn)* 30 where Pn is the financial offer being evaluated and Pl is the lowest financial offer received.

Step II: Final evaluation

The final evaluation will combine the scores of the desk review and the financial proposal with the following weights assigned to each:

Individual consultants will be evaluated based on the cumulative analysis methodology (weighted scoring method), where the award of the contract will be made to the individual consultant whose offer has been evaluated and determined as:

  • Responsive/compliant/acceptable; and
  • Having received the highest score out of a pre-determined set of technical and financial criteria specific to the solicitation.

Technical Criteria weight: [70%]
Financial Criteria weight: [30%]

Only Individual Consultants obtaining a minimum of 49 points (70%) on the Technical evaluation would be considered for the Financial Evaluation.

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.

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