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 two postdoctoral positions in computational analysis of social media communication and collective behaviour. The first postdoc position is affiliated with the research project NORDIS funded by the EU Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), and the second postdoc position is affiliated with SHAPE – Shaping Digital Democracy funded by Aarhus University.
Postdoc 1 – NORDIS is a full-time, fixed-term position from 1 September 2022 until 31 August 2023, with the possibility of an extension in case of new grants.
Postdoc 2 – SHAPE is a full-time, fixed-term position from 1 September 2022 until 31 December 2023, with the possibility of an extension in case of new grants.
The School of Communication and Culture is committed to diversity and encourages all qualified applicants to apply regardless of their personal background.
Postdoc 1: The NORDIS project
The NORDIS EU project establishes an independent Nordic regional hub with eight partners: the IFCN-certified national fact-checking organisations and a university in each of the four largest Nordic countries: Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. The aim of the project is to strengthen the national and regional knowledge infrastructure through a cross-country, cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral knowledge-based hub. The project will contribute to the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) platform at EU level with a consortium of four countries that are very similar in terms of welfare state values and have similar media systems with strong publicist newspapers and public service broadcasters, along with similar democratic political systems and populations characterised by high levels of trust in organisations and education. This high trust level of the Nordic population makes the findings of the project an interesting basis for comparisons with EDMO hubs in countries with lower levels of trust. DATALAB is the coordinator of the project and leads a research work package on collecting, detecting, monitoring and analysing disinformation on social media with a special focus on the Nordic welfare state countries, and it is this research work package that the postdoc will mostly work on. DATALAB researchers have already collected datasets from Twitter on Covid-19 and the Ukrainian War and have been approved for access to Social Science One Facebook URL data for the comparison of the Nordic countries, the EU and the United States. The postdoc will primarily work on computational and statistical data analysis of such very large datasets with the aim of providing research on significant dynamics of collective behaviour on social media in relation to misinformation and disinformation.
The working language of the project is English.
Postdoc 2: SHAPE
SHAPE – Shaping Digital Democracy is Aarhus University’s newly established centre, which aims to create knowledge on the mutual shaping of technology, democracy and citizen behaviour. Based on an interdisciplinary research agenda, SHAPE’s research qualifies the public and political debate by informing decision-makers, legislators and other relevant actors. It will test relevant theories and deliver specific results, technologies, methods and guidelines that support digital citizenship. Through interaction and cross-fertilisation between several sub-projects (this being one of them), SHAPE will provide a holistic understanding of the digital citizen and digital citizenship, which is highly needed in a Nordic and international context.
The postdoc will represent the work package on ‘collective behaviour and social media’: social media and their algorithms play a significant role in democracy and social cohesion. On the one hand, social media are platforms for community and exchange of opinions, and, on the other hand, they can potentially amplify already existing polarisation and/or opinions and behaviour of powerful actors and create information disorders. This sub-project focuses on social media and collective behaviour in relation to potential information and communication disorders, investigating, for example, what leads to shifts in collective civic behaviour in different Facebook Groups. Preliminary questions to be answered are: 1) What predicts change points in Facebook Groups’ feeds on different topics? 2) What characterises sources that achieve broad collective exposure in relation to, for example, misinformation; how do they differ over time (for example different stages of Covid-19) and across regions (the Nordic countries, the EU and the United States)? The studies will involve other researchers from DATALAB with a background in media studies, sociology and neuroscience. The research will be carried out using already collected datasets from DATALAB (for example Twitter, Reddit and Facebook). Complementary data can be collected using APIs or website scraping. The contribution of the sub-project to SHAPE will be to provide research on significant dynamics of collective civic behaviour on social media.
The working language of the project is English.
We are looking for applicants who have growth mindsets and documented experience in computational analysis of human data (preferably social media, but this is not a requirement) with the purpose of investigating human collective behaviour. Furthermore, we are ideally looking for applicants who have advanced skills in Python and classifiers from related fields and at least documented experience with Python and applied machine learning (preferably deep learning and/or NLP models such as BERT or LDA). Experience with API data collection, hidden Markov models (or other change point detection models for postdoc 2), network and time series analysis is not a requirement but would be positively evaluated.
The successful applicant will be expected to co-author (with other DATALAB researchers) at least two highly ranked journal articles, one as first author, in the areas of detecting and analysing reactions to fact-checked disinformation on the Ukrainian war in selected EU countries, detecting and analysing super spreaders and potential influence operations across the Nordic countries, the EU and the US (postdoc 1), as well as change point detection and other dynamics of civic collective behaviour on social media (postdoc 2).
The successful applicants will be working within an interdisciplinary group of researchers from other fields such as media, information and communication studies, cognitive semiotics, neuroscience and sociology, and your main tasks will be to write articles, process data (in a distributed setting using high-performance computing), qualify the choice of and advance the mathematical models (for example machine learning) and apply relevant statistical analysis. In NORDIS, the successful applicant will also be working in a consortium and network of universities at Nordic and EU level with researchers from various disciplines including computer science, cognitive science, physics and journalism, and in SHAPE, the applicant will be working in a cross-university, interdisciplinary setting with a view towards international research networks.
Applicants must have a PhD degree in a field relevant to computational analysis. Applicants must be able to document the following, relevant to the position:
- an internationally oriented research profile within computational analysis and machine learning as documented by a PhD dissertation in related fields (such as social/human data science, cognitive science, neuroscience or biophysics)
- research publications in highly ranked journals, including at least one authored or co-authored publication, including computational analysis on human data
- interest in the self-directed management of research projects and with EU projects
- excellent command of written English as documented by first authorship of journal articles in English.
Furthermore, it will be considered an advantage if applicants can document:
- experience of participation in international research networks
- publications showing experience with methods related to this call
- time spent abroad working at one or more internationally recognised research institutions in the EU or the US.
Required skills (documented in articles and links to open code repository):
- experience with programming in Python and/or r (we work in Python)
- experience with machine learning and natural language processing
- knowledge of statistics
- experience analysing social media data
- advanced machine learning and natural language processing
- experience with specific packages and libraries (e.g., tensorflow, pytorch, hugging face)
- specific machine learning models (e.g., deep learning, Hidden Markov models)
- machine translation
- probabilistic programming
- Bayesian statistics
- time series analysis
- network analysis
- project coordination, management and administration
Relevant backgrounds (or related fields):
- cognitive science
- data science
- computational social science
- social data science
- computational linguistics
Finally, 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 though they are available online. Please note that applications that do not include uploaded publications (maximum five) will not be considered.
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.
Active 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 a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU.
International 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 place of employment is DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research. DATALAB is 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 Culture
For further information about the position, please contact Professor Anja Bechmann, the principal investigator (PI), at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need help uploading your application or have questions about the recruitment process, please contact Arts HR support by email: email@example.com.
Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.
Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order).
- Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.
- Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities .
- Further information on the application and supplementary materials may be found in Application Guidelines.
- The application must outline the applicant’s motivation for applying for the position, attaching a curriculum vitae, a complete list of published works, copies of degree certificates and examples of academic production (mandatory, but no more than five examples). Please upload this material electronically along with your application.
Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here: https://talent.au.dk/junior-researcher-development-programme/
If nothing else is noted, applications must be submitted in English. 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
Faculty of Arts
The Faculty of Arts is one of five main academic areas at Aarhus University.
The faculty contributes to Aarhus University’s research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes.
With its 550 academic staff members, 275 PhD students, 9,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment.
The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society and the Danish School of Education. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.
The faculty’s academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction with society.
Read more at arts.au.dk/en
The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University’s website.
Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 38,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 885 million. Learn more at www.international.au.dk/