Postdoc in Social Media Influence

DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research at the Department of Media and Journalism Studies within the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University invites applications for a two-year postdoctoral position commencing 1 February 2024.

The Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University, in collaboration with the Independent Research Fund Denmark (IRFD), invites applications for a postdoc position on the collective project SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCE: A large-scale study of social media as infrastructures for influence in national populations with a focus on false information.

The position is a full time, fixed-term two-year position and begins on 1 February 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The School of Communication and Culture is committed to diversity and encourages all qualified applicants to apply regardless of their personal background.

The ProjectThis collective IRFD project studies social media as infrastructures for influence in times of crises in which media are important sources of information. The larger IRFD project’s major contributions are to create (1) new understandings of the characteristics of influence on social media and new typologies of actors, (2) new methods to investigate influential actors, and (3) empirical results on which citizen’s demographic profiles are affected and where on Facebook and YouTube, as well as how citizens experience being influenced by actors who use false information. The larger project is divided into four work packages (WPs) with complementary aims:

WP1: To conceptualize and classify social media influence and influential actors of verified (by fact checkers) false content (VFC) to make their influence more visible.

WP2: To understand country variance in the demographic profile of citizens exposed to VFC compared to other content throughout the EU and how this VFC exposure is divided by topics and actors across demographic profiles, time, and events.

WP3: To understand the demographic profile of citizens exposed to VFC on YouTube in Denmark, what kind of topics and VFC actors are present in 750 Danish citizens’ viewing sessions, and how they potentially exert influence compared to other types of content e.g., by understanding significant structures in relation to actors, timeseries, flows and “rabbit holes”.

WP4: To understand the self-reported influence strategies and perceived influence of VFC actors, and what Danish citizens’ perceived influence of VFC on YouTube are.

Postdoc profiles and qualificationsThis call primarily targets the analysis of WP3, but the successful applicant will be encouraged to engage with the work in WP4.

The postdoc call primarily targets the analysis of WP3 and thus the candidate will need to document good proficiency in computational analysis of a large amount of video material (e.g. through vision algorithms such as Yolo and CLIP) but also the ability to conduct statistical tests on the robustness of the findings in relation to the demographic profiles of the citizens (please upload relevant publications to attest to your experience in this or similar areas and the programming languages and environments you have been working in and e.g. please provide link to your Github page in the CV). Data are planned to be collected through an internet panel and the postdoc candidate will be working as part of a larger team that will conduct the data collection.

The successful applicant will be working within an interdisciplinary group of researchers from other fields such as media, information and communication studies, computational linguistics, digital humanities, cognitive semiotics, and sociology and take part in weekly project meetings where the team develops the project and discusses theory, research design and analytical solutions. The postdoc’s main tasks will be to write as first author three articles for highly ranked journals or ACM/IEEE conference proceeding papers with co-authors from the team, process data (in a distributed setting using high-performance computing), qualify the choice of, setup and advance/train the models, run the analysis, and apply relevant statistical analysis and visualization to report on the results. The spoken and written language in the research team is English as the team is international.

Teaching and supervisionAs postdoc your position is primarily research-based, but it will also involve a small degree of teaching and supervision. To that end, the successful applicant will be expected to take part in the department’s teaching and supervision activities and to teach and supervise on the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Media Studies and the Master’s Degree programme in Media Studies.

QualificationsApplicants must have a PhD degree or must document equivalent qualifications in a field such as digital humanities, computational social science, neuroscience, social psychology, cognitive science, or other relevant academic backgrounds. Applicants must be able to document, relevant to the position:

  • an internationally oriented research profile within fields related to human collective behavior, collective influence, social media (influence), computational social science or digital humanities as documented by a PhD dissertation and/or research publications
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills, in order to engage productively both within the research team and with external organisations and institutions.

Furthermore, it will be considered an advantage if applicants can document

  • a track record of research publications of a high international standard commensurate with the length of the applicant’s academic career
  • experience of participation in national and international research networks
  • time spent abroad working at one or more internationally recognised research institutions.

Applicants are asked to upload to the AU application system the PhD diploma, a full CV, a full publication list, maximum five articles (stating where each article has been published/submitted and/or the publication status, for example published/accepted/under review) and a short cover letter (max. 2 pages) on how the applicant will fulfil the expectations highlighted in this call.

Please remember to upload your publications as PDF files to the AU application system (maximum five) even if they are available online. Please note that applications that do not include uploaded publications (maximum five) will not be considered. Only applications uploaded to the AU system can be considered as an application.

Although the Aarhus University application system includes an option to upload letters of recommendation, please do not include letters of recommendation or references with the application. Applicants who are invited to an interview may be asked to provide references.

Work environmentActive participation in the daily life of the department is a high priority, and we emphasise the importance of good working relationships, both among colleagues and with our students. In order to maintain and develop the department’s excellent teaching and research environment, the successful applicant is expected to be present at the department on a daily basis.

We respect the balance between work and private life and strive to create a work environment in which that balance can be maintained. You can read more about family and work-life balance in Denmark.

Aarhus University also offers aJunior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU.

International applicantsInternational applicants are encouraged to read about the attractive working conditions and other benefits of working at Aarhus University and in Denmark, including healthcare, paid holidays and, if relevant, maternity/paternity leave, childcare, and schooling. Aarhus University offers a wide variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including a relocation service and career counselling for expat partners. You can also find information about the taxation aspects of international researchers’ employment by AU.

The departmentPlace of employment: The Department of Media and Journalism Studies and DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research, Helsingforsgade 14, 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark

DATALABis an interdisciplinary research centre at the School of Communication and Culture. The centre is based on the vision that technology and data systems should maintain a focus on people and society, supporting the principles of democracy, human rights and ethics.

All research and activities of the centre focus on three contemporary challenges facing the digital society: 1) preserving conditions for privacy, autonomy and trust among individuals and groups; 2) sustaining the provision of and access to verified online content to safeguard democracy; and 3) maintaining a suitable and meaningful balance between algorithmic and human control in connection with automation. Read more on the centre’s website: DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research.

The Department of Media and Journalism Studies is one of nine departments within the School of Communication and Culture at the Faculty of Arts. The department’s eight research centres investigate the accelerating developments in media and journalism and address the ensuing questions and key issues facing society and the human condition. A core field of interest is the development and digital evolution of mass media and new digital media. The department’s seven degree and supplementary programmes on BA, MA and PhD level offer research-based education which examines the content, organisation, functioning and uses of media and journalism, taking current and historical perspectives into consideration within national and international contexts. Read more on the department’s website.

School of Communication and CultureThe school is a part of the Faculty of Arts. You will find information about the school and itsresearch programmes,departments and diverse activities on itswebsite.

ContactFor further information about the position, please contact Professor Anja Bechmann, the principal investigator (PI), at

If you need help uploading your application or have questions about the recruitment process, please contact Arts HR support by email:

Qualification requirementsApplicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.

FormalitiesThe Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities(the Appointment Order).

Aarhus University also offers a junior researcher development programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here:

If nothing else is noted, applications must be submitted in English. The application deadline is at 11.59 pm Danish time (same as Central European Time) on the deadline day.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Shortlists may be prepared with the candidates that have been selected for a detailed academic assessment. A committee set up by the head of school is responsible for selecting the most qualified candidates. See this link for further information about shortlisting at the Faculty of Arts:shortlisting

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University’s website.

Read the full job description at the university homepage

02 October 2023