Ph.D. position in Computational Communication Science

Voor 1.0 fte
Vacaturenummer 18161
VU onderdeel: Extern

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a leading, innovative and growing university that is at the heart of society and actively contributes to new developments in teaching and research. Our university has ten faculties which span a wide range of disciplines, as well as several institutes, foundations, research centres, and support services. Its campus is located in the fastest-growing economic region in the Netherlands (the Zuidas district of Amsterdam), and provides work for over 4,500 staff and scientific education for more than 23,000 students.
The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS) is one of the larger faculties of the Vrije Universiteit. Over 2,500 students and more than 250 employees are engaged in teaching and research on social-science issues. The faculty has 5 bachelor- and 7 master programs. The faculty offers bachelor and master programs in anthropology, political science, public administration, sociology, communication science and organization science. The main focus of research is societal resilience (see
The PhD Candidate will work as part of the Project Team "Inside the filter bubble: A framework for deep semantic analysis of mobile news consumption traces", a collaboration between the VU, UvA (University of Amsterdam), CWI (Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science) and the Netherlands eScience Centre.
In this project we will develop and use tracking techniques to analyse mobile news consumption patterns to determine the impact of biased and homogeneous news diets on political knowledge and attitudes. Online and mobile news consumption leaves digital traces that are used to personalize news supply, possibly creating filter bubbles where people are exposed to a low diversity of issues and perspectives that match their preferences. Filter bubbles can be detrimental for the role of journalism in democracy and are therefore subject to considerable debate among academics and policymakers alike. The goal of this project is to develop techniques for analysing (mobile) news consumption patterns to determine the impact of selective news exposure on political knowledge and attitudes. This will contribute to the quality of (digital) journalism, news supply and democracy.
Together with the other members of the project team, you will conduct the substantive analysis of these data and write papers as outlined in the project proposal, culminating in a dissertation to be defended at the VU. See for the project description or mail us for the full proposal.
We are looking for a candidate that has either a degree in communication science, journalism, or related with strong affinity with computational methods; or a degree in data science, computer science or similar with strong affinity with news and societal problems. Candidates that expect to obtain their degree in the near future are also invited to apply.
In particular, we are looking for a candidate that has (some or all of):
- knowledge of relevant programming languages (preferably Python and R);
- experience in analyzing large datasets, especially of textual data;
- familiarity with communication science literature on news and audience/effects research;
- excellent written and spoken command of English (understanding Dutch is an advantage since the raw data will be mainly in Dutch);
- good skills at organizing a project and working in a team;
- interest in working in an interdisciplinary project in collaboration with experts in computational linguistics, communication science, law, and eScience.
Further particulars
The appointment will be for a total of four years. The initial appointment will be for a period of one year, extendable upon a positive evaluation.
You can find information about our excellent fringe benefits of employment at like:
• remuneration of  8,3% end-of-year bonus and  8% holiday allowance
• a minimum of 29 holidays in case of full-time employment;
• a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge.
The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel, and amounts
€ 2222,00 gross per month in the first year up to € 2840,00 in the fourth year (salary scale 85) based on a full-time employment.
For additional information please contact:
Wouter van Atteveldt
phone: +31 6 42740725
website: /
Applicants should send a cover letter with their motivation and CV by email before 1 June 2018 to: for the attention of dr. W.H. van Atteveldt.
Please mention the vacancy number in the e-mail header.
Any other correspondence in response to this advertisement will not be dealt with.