Postdoctoral fellowship (-s) at DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research 2770
Each postdoc position is a full-time and fixed-term position and begins 1 April 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.
The School of Communication and Culture is committed to diversity and welcomes applications from all qualified applicants regardless of their personal background.
The research projects
As postdoctoral fellow at DATALAB, you will be working closely with three research projects: AI in Digital Sociology, funded by AUFF, and Next Generation Internet Forward (NGI Forward) and Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis (SOMA), both funded by Horizon 2020 under the European Commission.
The project AI in Digital Sociology aims to investigate how the bridging of learning methods and the focus on complexity in digital sociology can improve the way we analyse digital datasets and thereby enhance our understanding of mobile and social media behaviour. We work primarily with large-scale Facebook datasets from Denmark and South Korea to mirror the national Facebook population in order to understand social patterns and differences in the algorithmic communication spaces and potentially harmful patterns for democratic societies.
The European Commission’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative aims to develop a future internet that better supports European values such as democracy and human rights. The purpose of NGI FORWARD is to articulate the vision for the internet of the future and set out the next steps towards achieving this vision through technology development, policy roadmaps and stakeholder engagement. DATALAB will help identify the key technologies and issues that will be significant in the development of a future internet by providing insights into internet-related topics discussed on social media. The work consists in developing a model for detecting innovative topic predictors as a decision support tool to detect innovative technologies and stakeholders. DATALAB’s contributions will be essential in the development of policy roadmaps and policy recommendations that will help the EU achieve a more human-centric and democratic internet in the future.
The purpose of SOMA is to aid the work against online disinformation by understanding logics, predicting behaviour and developing new tools and services for citizens and experts alike to better understand, measure and combat disinformation and its impacts on democracy. In this project, DATALAB will investigate current and potential methodological setups (e.g. social media data access and potential safe space solutions) and evaluate analytical tools (e.g. disinformation detection and cascade prevention) that can be used in the work against disinformation. It will also suggest optimal solutions for the centres and the observatory that will be established as part of the project. DATALAB acts as one of two EU Centres of Excellence for research in social media and information disorder (EU ReMID).
As postdoctoral fellow, you will act as first author of academic articles in collaboration with, among others, the centre director in the area of social media and collective behaviour-predicting patterns. You will also measure effects of experiments and analytically scrutinize challenges to democracy and/or next generation internet technologies and human values (based on existing and future data access/corpuses available in DATALAB). Furthermore, you will lead, administer and execute DATALAB’s contributions to the two EU projects (e.g. craft reports for the EU Commission, participate in consortium meetings in the EU, and administer the two projects by reporting on deliverables, time tables and hourly reports, etc.) The successful applicant will be expected to:
- identify central next generation internet topics by the means of social media debate mapping (Reddit and Twitter) to understand the most relevant topics in a given period, potential controversies, and the legal, economic, social and political context surrounding these topics
- analyse safe space solutions for social media data exchange, conduct analysis on data available in for instance the Ad Libraries of platforms, help map existing outlier (disinformation) detection solutions, and predict and prevent disinformation cascades at scale (primarily using Facebook and Twitter data e.g. designing and implementing quasi-experiments through agent-based modelling)
- help further develop and fund the EU Centre of Excellence for research in social media and information disorder (EU ReMID)
- work with large-scale Facebook datasets from Denmark and South Korea to mirror the national Facebook population in order to understand social patterns and differences in the algorithmic communication spaces and potentially harmful patterns for democratic societies
Research will primarily be carried out collaboratively with other project members, but, to some extent, there will be opportunities to pursue independent work within the focus of the projects that could inspire the centre to move into new and novel directions (i.e. advancing research questions, building new theories and applying new methods). The projects include funding for research and student assistants, data collection, travel and workshops.
You will join and work closely together with the teams of international researchers from several disciplines across Europe that are connected to the projects. You will be expected to travel to and represent DATALAB at meetings in Brussels and at stakeholder meetings primarily in Europe (approx. 3-4 meetings a year). You will also work with DATALAB’s centre director and co-director, PhDs, assistant researchers and student workers and collaborate closely with data scientists. You will also be expected to program for cluster analysis, topic modelling and social media data collection.
At the time of employment, applicants for each position must hold a PhD degree in data science, communications, media studies, political science, social science, information studies, computer science or related fields relevant to the position.
In addition to an interest in conducting collaborative research within the focus area of the project and having an excellent command of spoken and written English, applicants must
- document knowledge of social media research or related field and data
- document the ability to conduct computational analyses of social data (e.g. applying predictive models and agent-based models)
- document prior use and knowledge of statistical learning, neural networks and/or other big data models using e.g. Caffe, Python and R
- document experience of publishing as first author in international peer-reviewed journals.
Interested applicants should provide a short research proposal (max. 3 pages), outlining potential avenues for research related to the focus of the position. Please see the section below about the application procedure for the further formal requirements for the application.