Head of Research

San Francisco, California, United States | Research | Full-time | Partially remote


Common Sense (commonsense.org) is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of all kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century.

 Every day, millions of families turn to Common Sense for trusted advice and unbiased ratings. We offer the largest library of independent, age-based, and educational ratings and reviews for everything your kids want to watch, play, read, and learn. Our movie and TV ratings are available on Target.com, Xfinity, Apple TV, and many other partner platforms helping families make smart media choices. Through our schools program, we provide educators with a curriculum that teaches the essential digital citizenship and literacy skills every student needs to succeed. We also work with policymakers, industry leaders, and concerned parents, caregivers, and teachers to improve the media and education landscape for kids, families, and schools.

The Head of Research will lead the development and execution of a mission-aligned research agenda, overseeing multiple annual research projects about the role of media and technology in the lives of children and families. This position will focus on research that increases public awareness while providing opportunities for a healthy path forward for children. This person will engage with internal and external stakeholders to build awareness of the impact of media and technology on children's healthy development, and frame key issues, foster public dialogue and policy reform, and inform our content and programs.

EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Full-time, Exempt
SALARY RANGE: $140,000-$190,000
REPORTS TO: Chief Program Officer
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA 


Lead the Common Sense Research Program

  • In collaboration with internal stakeholders, define research agenda and themes that align with the Common Sense mission and key priority areas.
  • Produce empirical research studies, surveys, literature reviews, and reports as outlined in each year's strategic plans, with a specific focus on understanding the effects of media and technology on children's healthy development.
  • Identify and recruit academic research partners in the field to serve on research advisory councils and co-conduct and author research reports.
  • Create literature reviews and summaries for press interviews, grant proposal development, executive speaking engagements, conferences, webinars, or other needs.
  • Coordinate with internal teams, including Communications, Marketing, Editorial, Education, and Family and Community Engagement, to complete, distribute, and publicize our research.
  • Serve as primary writer and editor of reports, as well as blogs and supporting materials that offer research-backed advice for families and educators.
  • Ensure broad representation of diverse communities through research studies and surveys by including and sometimes oversampling under-represented and minority populations, such as BIPOC people and lower-income communities. 
  • Develop and manage regular demographic and interest surveys of Common Sense users in coordination with internal teams.
  • Develop vision and model for the Common Sense Research Fellows network.

Be a thought leader in the field

  • Build a framework to enhance our research agenda and raise awareness about our core topics.
  • Advise Editorial department on analysis, calibration, revision/refinement, and presentation of age- and child development-informed ratings and developmental appropriateness guidelines.
  • Recruit and manage relationships with advisory boards and subject-matter experts for Common Sense research projects.
  • Represent Common Sense to external entities at conferences, webinars, press events, etc.
  • Manage the thoughtful distribution of Common Sense data to external entities, such as academic partners, for supporting long-tail research.

Manage research for internal use

  • Produce and maintain database of statistics and trends on topics of organizational priority and importance to the field.
  • Provide data and research guidance to teams on an as-needed basis.
  • Manage Research team to execute program and project evaluations with data collection, analysis, publishing reports, and presentations.
  • Manage departmental budget. 

 Support content and other efforts throughout the organization

  • Consult thought partners on any matters related to child development, learning, and media/technology.
  • Support Development team in fundraising efforts to support the research program.


  • PhD, master's degree, or equivalent experience in child development, psychology, communications, education, media research, learning sciences, or related field.
  • 15+ years of experience conducting research with children and/or families.
  • Expertise in research design.
  • Expertise with quantitative research methods, including surveys and statistical analysis, and descriptive and inferential statistics.
  • Proficiency in a variety of qualitative research methods and frameworks, such as focus groups, interviews, ethnographies, contextual inquiries, diary studies, personas, or card sorting.
  • Interest in working with academic/technical publishing tools such as LaTeX and/or GitHub markdown to help increase automation, version control, collaboration, and productivity of research reports.
  • Excellent writing skills for academic, professional, lay, nonspecialized, and lower-literacy audiences.
  • Experienced track record managing research projects in a timely manner.
  • Deep interest in the role of media and technology in supporting healthy child development and positive family interactions.
  • Strong supervisory skills. 
  • Outstanding interpersonal, communication, relationship-building, and presentation skills. 
  • History of delivering results on a tight budget and demonstrating fiscal management skills. 
  • A passion for our mission and an entrepreneurial spirit. 
  • Spanish language skills are a plus.


  • Work with passionate professionals.
  • Comprehensive health and wellness benefits: medical, dental, vision, and fitness.
  • Matching 401(k).
  • Work-life balance.
  • The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids and families!



Common Sense values the diversity of its employees and is an equal-opportunity employer. For more information on our values, please visit our statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Common Sense will consider employment-qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records. However, job offers are made on the condition that the applicant subsequently passes a criminal background check. If the background check indicates a prior criminal conviction, we will conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether the conviction should result in denial of employment.