PhD position in Statistics / Social Sciences (1.0 FTE)

PhD position in Statistics / Social Sciences (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
11 May 30 May Utrecht

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Do you have the ambition to contribute to scientific progress as well as perform socially relevant research? Apply for this PhD position!

Job description

This is a PhD position in Statistics/Social Sciences – Rethinking Model Fit Guidelines for Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling (LSEM) in Research on Youth.


Job description
Are you interested in working with a dynamic team of researchers? Do you dare to challenge existing statistical methods and adapt them to more valid methods for future research in youth development and bullying research? Do you have the ambition to contribute to scientific progress as well as perform socially relevant research? Apply for this PhD position!


You will have the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project applying Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling (LSEM) in research on youth and bullying. Many researchers within the field of social sciences focus on youth development within the rapid changing cultural and social environment. They regularly make use of Longitudinal Structural Equation Models (LSEM) to measure, test and evaluate models consisting of multiple individual and social factors. Evaluating model fit is a key ingredient in Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling (LSEM). The most commonly used and reported model fit indices in the literature on this topic include the CFI, TLI, and RMSEA. Current model fit guidelines do not consider how certain model characteristics (number of indicators and/or occasions) influence model fit indices. This research project aims to develop and evaluate a tool in order to create unique model fit intervals that take these longitudinal model characteristics into account.


To develop and test our tool, this project aims to apply it to the topic of bullying perpetration and victimization. Notable links exist between bullying victimization and perpetration. However, knowledge is lacking on how these dynamics develop, at which timepoints these transmissions can be observed and how that is related with individual and social changes in the environment. Moreover, most existing longitudinal research focuses on adolescents only. This is in sharp contrast with the raising awareness of bullying in the workplace. This project aims to fill in this gap by analyzing individual’s trajectories from primary school, starting at the age of 10years old, until the age of 30, an age at which most participants will be working. Within these trajectories we will determine participants’ bidirectional transmissions between bullying perpetration and victimization. Moreover, we will analyze the role of several individual and social factors steering these dynamics. These insights are valuable for the development of intervention and prevention initiatives on bullying.


Data are already available for this project. More specifically, we will use the data of the TRAILS (TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey) project. TRAILS is a longitudinal, multidisciplinary research project into the psychological, social and physical development of adolescents and young adults (N= 2,500). Participants have been tracked for more than 15 years by means of surveys, interviews and tests. One of the advantages of the dataset is that it includes a lot of information on the environment in which participants live. More information on TRAILS can be found here. 


Your responsibilities as a PhD candidate are:

  • conducting the research (literature research/review, conducting simulations in R, designing and evaluating a unique model fit calculator based on LSEM, analysing data and models, preparing and storing data packages for sharing);
  • writing international scientific publications and a dissertation that combines the theoretical and statistical aspects of the project;
  • giving presentations at (inter)national scientific conferences;
  • active participation in the research team of the UU department of Methodology and Statistics (M&S) and the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (ISW);
  • knowledge utilization: collaborating and sharing findings with practitioners (e.g., professional publications and presentations for scholars/teachers/practitioners);
  • following courses/trainings (e.g., statistical courses).


Your work will also include 10% to 20% teaching tasks. Of course, you will be well guided and supported by your two daily supervisors, Dr Beth Grandfield from Methodology and Statistics (M&S) and Dr Gaëlle Ouvrein from Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (ISW), as well as two senior supervisors (Prof Rens van de Schoot from M&S and Prof Catrin Finkenauer from ISW).


Utrecht University


We are looking for an enthusiastic colleague (m/f/x) who meets the requirements below:

  • You have (completed or almost completed) a Master’s degree in the field of Methodology and Statistics or Social Sciences with advanced statistics training (SEM and/or Longitudinal methods, knowledge of R and conducting simulations).
  • You possess well-developed analytical skills.
  • You are a motivated and collaborative team member, communicative and open for collaboration across scientific fields. You are able to work independently and have excellent verbal and written communication skills in English.
  • You are willing to learn Dutch. We believe that understanding and speaking Dutch makes it easier to connect with colleagues. We offer free Dutch language courses.

Conditions of employment

You will work in a collaborative, social and dedicated team. We will guide you in your research and teaching tasks, which will help you develop your academic career. 

  • The gross salary will range from €2,443 in the first year to €3,122 in the fourth year in the P-scale (Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month based on a full-time employment.
  • The salary is supplemented with an annual holiday pay of 8%, and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% per year.
  • We also offer a pension scheme.


We encourage you to grow professionally, and we support a healthy work-life balance. That’s why we offer employment benefits such as professional development, leave arrangements, partially paid parental leave and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. 

And that's not all. We are happy with you as a new employee and are happy to give you a warm welcome. We host a good introduction process for our new colleagues where we will introduce you and show you around our faculty and university.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.


The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in cultural anthropology, educational sciences, interdisciplinary social science, pedagogical sciences, psychology, and sociology. We are a faculty at the heart of society and one which cooperates closely with others. Our almost 6,000 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. We have approximately 900 faculty and staff members, who all work closely together to educate and train young talent and to research and find solutions to scientific and societal issues. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth and Institutions for Open Societies.


The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences aspires to have a diverse body of staff and students and strives to create and sustain a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, in line with Utrecht University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2443—€3122 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1189530



Padualaan 14, 3584 CD, Utrecht

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