Call for research concepts in the field of Education, focusing PISA 2015 and Sustainable Development Goals 4

Open Society Foundation for Albania aims to fund two research projects in the field of education along two related lines of inquiry. The first line of inquiry draws on the data collected from the PISA 2015 assessment to better understand and/or explain variation in students’ performance. Key factors could include geographic location, socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, language, or physical ability, among others. The second line of inquiry is related to the goals, targets, and indicators associated with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in Albania, with a focus on SDG4 on Education. This research aims to address questions concerning the equitable provision of inclusive quality education for all.

This research initiative supports the development of local researchers' capacities to generate new knowledge that can inform recommendations for improving policies in the education sector. The selected researchers will work closely with specialists from the National Examination Agency and an international researcher.

To be considered for this opportunity, candidates should submit a research concept (no more than 5 pages) that briefly presents the problem to be investigated, outlines the main research questions, details the proposed methodology, and states the duration of the research and the resources needed. OSFA particularly encourages a methodology that combines qualitative and quantitative research[1] and can be achieved within approximately six months. Applicants should submit also a CV emphasizing their research capacities and relevant publications. 

After submission of preliminary research concepts, a group of finalists will be selected for an interview. Based on the conceptual clarity and relevance of the proposed study, the preparation and established ability of the researcher, and the study feasibility, two researchers will be selected to undertake this work through two independent research projects. Candidates should possess an advanced level of English-language competency and should provide evidence of relevant research experience. The research concept should be presented in English.

Possible topics of interest to this call include the following:

  • Factors affecting student performance across different regions within Albania;
  • Comparative case study of rural and urban schools with attention to infrastructure and access to quality education;
  • Variation in teacher qualification as a factor of students’ success on PISA 2015;
  • Inequality of opportunity among students based on regional, gender, socio-economic status or other key factors;
  • Comparing access to quality education across diverse populations;
  • Exploring issues of inclusion in schools, classrooms, and communities;
  • Mapping data and indicators which are currently assessed/data that is being collected by Albanian institutions (including PISA data) in line with SDG4


Issues/ research tasks linked to “Mapping data and indicators” topic:

  • Desk research focusing Albanian national action plan regarding SDG 4 and relevant policies identified in the action plan
  • Examining the relevance, consistency, and/or feasibility of existing SDG4-related educational targets and indicators with regards to concrete schools environment (case study in 3-4 schools in Albania), preference for qualitative methods
  • Constructing a model to develop additional indicators and type of data that could assist education institutions in meeting national education policy goals and SDG4 targets. Main research interest: Target: 4.5  Indicator: 4.5.1; Target: 4.6 Indicator: 4.6.1; Target: 4.a Indicator: 4.a.1


For a broader range of study issues, visit the link of the fellowship program, Thomas J. Alexander, organized by the OECD and the Open Society Foundation network

The selected researchers will be financially supported to implement the proposed study over the period of July – December 2018.
Please submit you proposal at
Deadline 18 June, 17:00.


[1] The aim is not to collect new data through the quantitative part of the research but instead use current data collected by national or international institutions. The qualitative part could be used to collect new data in the framework of the research