Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) – Policy & Practice Internship – Ongoing


Name Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI)
Placement base location

Hybrid. Office locations: CABI Head Office, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford OX10 8DE, CABI, Bakeham Lane, Englefield Green, Egham TW20 9TY

There will be an expectation that you will attend the office on a regular basis (e.g., 1 day per month) for planned activities. This will be discussed as part of the application process.

Website https://www.cabi.org/
Contact for enquiries Dr Tom Chaloner
Contact details Email: t.chaloner@cabi.org
Placement job title Data Policy and Practice Intern
Potential start date Flexible
Potential working pattern Full-time
Details of application method Apply online
Application closing date Ongoing
Overview of PIPS organisation
CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) is an international not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives by providing information and
applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. We bring science-based agricultural knowledge to millions of smallholder farmers helping to increase their yields and adopt data-driven approaches to support informed decision making.CABI is the only organisation worldwide that incorporates a dedicated publishing arm and an independent science media organisation alongside conducting its own scientific research and applying practical expertise in digital and other approaches to reach farmers and other stakeholders.

Digital Development in CABI is comprised of several themes of work, including Data Policy and Practice, Digital Advisory Tools, and Modelling and Data Science. Using our expertise in digital development, we turn data and science-based knowledge into actionable, practical information that addresses real needs such as helping to prevent and tackle invasive crop pests. This helps to transform smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and helps agricultural and environmental professionals be more effective in their work.

Under Data Policy and Practice we develop tools and data-driven approaches to sustainable development. Our core strengths in Data Policy and Practice help donors address problems related to data management.

Placement offered

The Challenge

The vast majority of smallholder farmers have little access to agricultural information or advisory services. Donors, understanding that digital development and the application of data can help bring practical knowledge and solutions to farmers, are increasingly investing in technology-focused grants and projects.

However, there is a tendency to move immediately to technology development without first establishing a good understanding of how data needs to flow to those who need it, and the data policies and practices to safeguard the project’s success. This ‘tech-first’ mindset has resulted in the development of digital resources aimed at agriculture and food systems which fail to achieve their greatest potential. CABI’s expertise in Data Policy and Practice help donors address this challenge and create a solid foundation for digital and data management success.

Providing Solutions

When applied to data, it is widely believed that FAIR principles – making data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable – enable more effective collecting, storing and sharing of data, and help donors overcome the challenge described.

These principles can be applied to both technical and non-technical constraints. For data to be FAIR we must not only address technology issues but also people and processes. For example, if the need for permission to access and use data is not appreciated, local data policies are not taken into account when developing grants, or the reliance on ad hoc data sharing agreements leads to a lack of sustainability in the system or tool, data sharing can be hindered.

Any digital and data ecosystem is, therefore, much more than the technology. Digital development initiatives succeed when the focus is placed initially, even counterintuitively, on people and processes, including managing and sharing the data that supports the technology, rather than the technology itself.

We know there is a better way of implementing technological solutions. Human-centred design – a system of thinking where solutions are developed by focusing on user needs and the problems users face – can provide a valuable framing.

This is why we start with people and processes and, only then, consider the technology. We offer a range of data policy and practice services for donors, starting with problem identification and moving through to project design, policy development and mainstreaming of good practices. We help donors ask and answer the questions that ensure the fundamental building blocks of data management are in place before the technology is built and implemented.

Our Data Policy and Practice Expertise

We develop tools and data-driven approaches to sustainable development. Our core strengths in data policy and practice help donors address problems related to data management:

Problem identification: We take a holistic view of projects in order to understand ad hoc and reoccurring barriers to good data practices. We perform stakeholder analyses to reveal all of the actors involved, creating a snapshot of the current situation and where the constraints lie.

Project design: We help funders and implementing agencies design projects by asking the right questions at the right time, anticipating and addressing emerging challenges, and making the path forward as smooth as possible. We employ a fundamentally human-centred design approach to projects, designing into your project the people and processes needed to ensure a successful technological intervention.

Policy development: We review projects and make recommendations for policy change or development. We look at open data policies and revise them to reflect the FAIR framework. For example, CABI led a review of the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management (OADM) policy and accompanying implementation guidelines to determine how it was implemented across the CGIAR system and whether updates were required to remain relevant to today’s research landscape.

Mainstreaming and good practice: We review projects and develop standardised data policies and processes that can be applied to ensure longevity and sustainability, not only of the current project but of all related or similar projects going forward. This allows us to understand reoccurring obstacles and address them to create an effective, efficient development path.

Best practice tools and resources: We provide tools and resources to help funders apply best practice throughout their data policy and practice work. For example, we developed a Data Sharing Toolkit as part of a project to enable data access and support innovation in decision agriculture.


CABI is looking for a curious and enthusiastic individual with hands-on experience working with data during their PhD/DPhil, who is interested in addressing problems related to data governance, data management and learning more about the non-technical aspects of maximising value gained from data.

The intern would support a growing portfolio of data policy and practice projects related to our expertise outlined in the section above. As a Data Policy and Practice Intern you will be welcomed into a highly collaborative team where your questions and ideas will be embraced and valued. Specific tasks/activities relating to the role will depend on project needs at the time the intern joins the team. However, we will aim to co-create the internship experience with the intern as much as possible.

The internship is most suitable for a student who has worked with data and analytics during their PhD, has an interest in expanding their data experience across the data skills framework (https://theodi.org/article/dataskillsframework/), and who has as interest in international development, agriculture, the environment, and/or health.

About You

Knowledge, Skills and Experience:

  • Significant hands-on experience working with data (e.g., collecting, publishing, accessing, standardising, classifying, or visualising data)
  • Significant desk research experience (e.g., critically evaluating existing literature and synthesising information)
  • Interest in learning more on the non-technical aspects of gaining value from data, such as building communities of practice and incentive systems
  • Interest working in data policy, data management, and international development
  • Interest in change management
  • Interest in approaches to solving complex problems and developing solutions, such as human centred design and systems thinking
  • Awareness of FAIR data principles and scientific data standards
  • Fluency in English
  • Excellent written communication skills

Personal characteristics

  • Willingness to embrace new approaches and technology
  • Curious and creative
  • Good interpersonal, communication, and administrative skills
  • Self-motivated, able to work independently
  • Flexibility when faced with change
  • Accurate; attention to detail and quality
Financial contribution/benefit(s)
Contributions for travel to the place of work will be discussed as part of the application process.