Postdoctoral Researcher in Data or Communication Science, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Study in:Netherlands
Deadline: 15 November 2017

Postdoctoral researcher in data or communication science

University of Amsterdam – Amsterdam School of Communication Research

Publication date
17 October 2017
Level of education
Salary indication
€3,475 to €4,757 gross per month
Closing date
15 November 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

The FairNews project is part of the Dutch National Science Agenda and aims at delivering interdisciplinary answers to questions of algorithmic biases in the context of news consumption and how those biases affect fundamental rights (freedom of expression, etc.). The project’s use case is provided by De Volkskrant, one of the largest Dutch daily morning newspapers.

The postdoctoral researchers will work as part of a multidisciplinary team of 1 legal scientist, 1 communication scientist and 1 data scientist, led by Dr Joris van Hoboken (IViR/UvA), Prof. Claes de Vreese (ASCoR/UvA) and Dr Claudia Hauff (TU Delft).

The Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR is the research institute in communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. It is the largest research institute of its kind in Europe and is among the largest and best ranked worldwide. More than 50 senior researchers are permanently associated with ASCoR, and its English-language PhD program has more than 40 students.

The postdoctoral researcher will be based at ASCoR and will also operate within the larger structure of a research collaboration between the Institute for Information Law and the Amsterdam School of Communication Research to conduct research into the shift from public to personalised communication in the areas of politics, commerce and health (‘Personalised Communication’) and be able to contribute to other ongoing research at the Institute for Information Law in the areas of regulation of algorithms and data-driven discrimination.

Project description

Equal opportunities of access to news is a necessary precondition for a functioning democracy. Data analytics, machine learning and personalised recommendations make it possible to filter news, based on individual user profiles and ‘social sorting’. We are only beginning to understand the implications for political knowledge and participation in the public debate, but also the realisation of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom to expression and non-discrimination.

The objective of this project is to develop solutions that lead to a) more transparency and effective ways of informing users about algorithmic profiling and targeting in the news media and b) guidance for offering personalised recommendations in the news media in a way that is fair, non-discriminatory and accessible. As a practical use case, the project will work together with one of the leading Dutch newspapers.

The project is part of the Dutch National Science Agenda, and here in particular the Big Data Route: VWData.


The postdoctoral researcher will be charged with:

  • analysing existing data set of news usage and consumption;
  • work in team to develop concepts of transparency, explainability, diversity and non-discrimination and equal chances to communicate in the context of data-driven news media recommendation systems and turn them onto empirical investigations in close cooperation with law scholars and data scientists as well as industry partners;
  • complete scientific papers on this topic;
  • contributing to the public debate, and organising outreach activities of the project, as well a
  • contributing to fundraising activities at the ASCoR.


The postdoc has:

  • a PhD degree in data science or communication or other social science with outstanding data mining and analysis skills. Candidates who are due to submit their dissertation before 1 December 2017 are welcome to apply;
  • an active research knowledge of, and expertise in, modern search and text mining methods;
  • experience with programming in at least one of the following languages: Python (2.7/3.x);
  • experience with webmining/ webscraping;
  • experience with Natural Language Processing (NLP) (Topic Modelling / Machine Learning is een pro);
  • some teaching and supervision experience;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • team spirit

Additional pros are database handling experience, Git skills, Bash scripting and / or elastic search/Hadoop.

Further information

Questions about the project content should be addressed to:

All general questions about the application procedure should be addressed to the:


The position ideally starts on 1 January 2018 (or soon thereafter) and lasts for 2 years. Depending on your knowledge and experience, your monthly gross salary will range between €3,475 and €4,757 according to the Collective Labour Agreement (cao) for Dutch Universities, based on a full-time appointment. The final conditions are pending budget approval.

We offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year and flexible employment conditions.

Job application

The deadline for applications is 15 November 2017 at 24:00 PM CET. Please state  vacancy number 17-510 and the letter B in the subject line of your application. Without stating the vacancy number, the application cannot be processed. To apply for this position, please send at least the following documents in English by e-mail to

  • motivation letter;
  • curriculum vitae, names and contact details of 3 references;
  • proof of your PhD degree. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the submission date of your PhD before 1 December 2017;
  • two writing samples in English, at least one of which academic (e.g., journal article, PhD dissertation).

Please send all your documents in PDF format. Only complete applications will be considered. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

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