Call for Applications: Technical / Academic Copywriter
Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
Opportunity closing date: 
Friday, 10 August, 2018
Opportunity type: 

These terms of reference detail the required services and available resources for a consultant Technical/Academic Copywriter. This includes scope of work, work timeline, available budget, application requirements, TOR selection process and selection timeline. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email our Talent Manager Ms. Busi Mbele at is a committed to creating a fully inclusive and diverse environment that embraces difference, cultivates inclusivity and is committed to people feeling like they belong within all teams in the organisation. We actively encourage applicants of all races, ethnicities, religions, ages, genders, sexual orientations and abilities.

Founded in South Africa in 2007, is a South African organisation that uses technologies to solve some of the world’s largest social problems.  We work with governments, international NGOs, foundations and social enterprises to create and deliver essential information and vital services. Today, our team of approximately 60 staff are truly global - with our main offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and satellite offices out of India, The Netherlands, UK, Nigeria and the USA.

Since late 2009 we have been working on using mobile tools and platforms to specifically improve maternal and child health. The first national-sale program we worked on between 2010 and 2013 was MAMA - the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action program in South Africa. The aim of this was to use basic mobile tools to generate demand for maternal health services. Although not integrated with the National Department of Health systems, we have managed to build 4 mobile channels (SMS, Mobi Site, a Mxit Platform and a USSD-quiz service) that reached over 800,000 over the grant period. Through this work in leading the MAMA South Africa consortium of implementing partners, we have gained a lot of knowledge, experience and a lot of the technical platform developed for MAMA, could be repurposed and adapted for the now national-scale platform MomConnect.

Since April 2017 has been the only social impact partner of WhatsApp, allowing us to build tools that require integration with the WhatsApp Enterprise API. This means we are uniquely positioned to develop and experiment with new modes of highly interactive WhatsApp/IP based health interventions, leveraging both the functionality of WhatsApp and richer outcome data (e.g. message reading and uptake).

Patient Engagement Lab

The Praekelt Patient Engagement Lab is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to develop rapid evaluation frameworks for mobile health messaging platforms. The Lab is expanding both intervention and evaluation options in mobile health, with an emphasis on increasing user engagement with mobile services via adaptive, personalised and data-driven methodologies. Evaluation cycles, processes and technical tools are being built on WhatsApp and SMS and designed for both scale and sustainability in resource-constrained settings. Proof of concept implementations are currently being run on the MomConnect programme, a national mHealth maternal messaging platform with 800,000 active users at any one time and on specialised digital networks and platforms.


The consultant will:

  • write up draft research protocols, ethics applications and research results. Drafts will be prepared using outlines and content provided by internal researchers
  • proofread and/or copyedit draft reports, papers or blogs

The consultant will not have to conduct any primary research, data analysis or literature reviews; and will not appear as an author or co-author on any of the reports, blogs or papers to which s/he. The consultant will report to the Head of Research, Eli Grant and be supported by technical research staff from the Research and Data Science teams in the Patient Engagement Lab.

The consultant will need to deliver rough drafts and polished drafts of technical reports, literature reviews, academic-format papers, blogs, trial protocols and ethics application forms. The consultant will also be asked to proofread and copy-edit final reports, papers and blogs. Deliverables will be agreed in advance and the consultant will need to scope each one in terms of time and delivery based on length, technical complexity and the consultant’s own availability within the timeframe.


Praekelt.Org is a South African organisation, with a Head Office in Johannesburg and its Research and Data Science teams based in Cape Town. The Patient Engagement Lab is also based in Cape Town South Africa, with one team member in New York.

Praekelt.Org is, however a remote working company. Candidates anywhere in the world will therefore be considered, with preference given in the following order to candidates who are:

  • Based in Cape Town
  • Based in Johannesburg
  • Based elsewhere in South Africa
  • Based in New York
  • Based elsewhere in the world

Candidates must have the legal right to work in the country in which they are based.


The TOR application will close on 10 August 2018 and consultants will be expected to begin from 30 August 2018 at the latest.

The Praekelt Patient Engagement Lab started in 2016 and has funding until June 2019. We anticipate needing 2-3 days per week in August, September and October (25-35 days total); occasional work between November 2018 and April 2019; and then full-time or close to full-time work in May and June 2019.

Total days: 100 days between 15 August 2018 and 30 June 2019.

Consultant Profile

  • Strong English writing skills, including impeccable grammar, spelling and attention to detail
  • Academic research training (ideally relevant PhD, minimum technical Masters)
  • Experience working with a variety of clients and both writing and proofreading diverse research texts
  • Topic knowledge of research in health, behaviour change, social science, international development, statistics and evaluation, or South Africa
  • Experience working independently to deliver on client briefs and meet deadlines
  • Experience working as a professional copywriter or editor for technical material
  • Ability to produce high-quality single-author academic written output
  • Positive references from copywriting/editing clients
  • Stable high-speed internet connection
  • Proficiency using Google Drive system and Google Documents specifically


  • Experience working in publishing industry, ideally academic publishing industry
  • Experience ghostwriting technical work
  • Evidence of writing output
  • South African or based in South Africa
  • Fluency in multiple South African languages

Application Process

To apply for this position, please submit the following in pdf format:

  • Up to date academic/publishing CV
  • Maximum10-page writing sample (single authored)
  • Cover letter stating:
    • General availability over contracting period
    • Day rate in USD
    • Location and work status (where you are allowed to work)
  • One-page statement of interest in this position

The above information must be received by Ms. Busi Mbele, by 10 August  2018 for you to be considered for this position.  

If you meet our criteria, we may contact you for a remote interview via Google Hangouts or Skype. Please make sure to test that Google hangouts is working before the interview takes place.

Praekelt Patient Engagement Lab Bios

The following are short biographies of the main contacts that the consultant will have access to in order to gain more information and documentation, as is needed. Please be aware that this does not represent the entire technical team but only those people who will be actively working with the consultant. The rest of the technical team will be consulted when needed.

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