Postdoctoral position in Explaining Search on Disputed Topics

Postdoctoral position in Explaining Search on Disputed Topics

Published Deadline Location
21 Jun yesterday Maastricht

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The Department of Advanced Computing Sciences (DACS) at Maastricht University, the Netherlands, is looking for a Postdoctoral researcher to work on Explaining Search on Disputed Topics.

Job description

Public opinion is increasingly informed by online content, spread via social media, and curated algorithmically. The content that is suggested to people to read next, uses recommendation engines that use a notion of relevance that is commonly optimized purely for a single metric, such as engagement or number of views. This leads to an increase in polarization and a decrease in deliberate cognition and autonomous choice of which content they see. Furthermore, when users use social media or search to inform their opinion, they normally select the information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs. E.g., if Mary who is an animal rights activist, wants to find out if zoos should continue to exist, she selects and reads more articles that are against zoos. Most people would act this way -- this is a systematic pattern in human behavior known as confirmation bias. Yet, there is nothing in these systems that supports users in reflecting on or identifying their own exposure or consumption biases.

This postdoc will help improve an existing explanation interface for non-expert users like Mary, who consume information about disputed topics (like whether zoos should exist). This person will also help evaluate the effectiveness of these explanations in user studies. The explicit scope of the post-doc position will be defined based on the preferences and experience of the selected candidate.

The position is embedded in the current Explainable Artificial Intelligence group of the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences. The group consists of full Professors and Associate & Assistant Professors, postdoctoral researchers, Ph.D. candidates and master/bachelor students. The group works together closely on a day-to-day basis, to exchange knowledge, ideas, and research advancements. We conduct both fundamental and applied research, with a focus on Explainable Artificial Intelligence. The candidate will also benefit from a strong industry and research network such as PIs involvement with the ROBUST Long Term Program in development (

The full-time position (negotiable) is initially offered for a period of 1 year, extensions may be possible.

The successful candidate will:

  1. Support the R&D activities of the department in human-computer interaction and explainable AI.
  2. (Co-)author scientific, peer-reviewed papers, submitted to top conferences and journals in the field of data fusion and machine learning.
  3. Provide support and/or manage funding acquisition activities and proposal writing (national and international, e.g. Horizon Europe).
  4. Support the department in teaching activities.


Maastricht University (UM)


  • A PhD degree (already completed or to be completed shortly) in human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, machine learning or a closely related field.
  • Solid interest in advances in explainable AI, and human-computer interaction and a willingness to publish in top venues in the field, in collaboration with the rest of the team.
  • Excellent programming skills (experience in Node.js, MongoDB beneficial).
  • Good English language skills.
  • Very good presentation, communication, and organization skills.
  • Interest in grant proposal preparation and coordination.
  • Team spirit

Conditions of employment

The intended starting date of this position is September 1, 2022.

The salary will be set on scale 11 (between € 3.974 and € 5.439 gross per month) depending on education and relevant work experience. On top of this, there is an 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance. The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. Non-Dutch applicants could be eligible for a favorable tax treatment (30% rule).


Maastricht University

Maastricht University (UM) has around 22,000 students and almost 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. UM is renowned for its unique, innovative problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. UM placed #9 in Times Higher Education’s (THE) Young Universities Ranking 2022, and #127 in THE’s World University Rankings 2022.

Situated in the heart of Europe and within 30 kilometers from the German and Belgian borders, Maastricht and its 120,000 inhabitants have a strong international character. It is a safe, vibrant city with a history spanning more than 2,000 years. The city’s rich past is reflected everywhere in the streets: the ratio of monuments-to-inhabitants is roughly 1:73. If you are unfamiliar with the Netherlands, UM’s Knowledge Centre for International Staff will gladly assist you with practical matters such as housing.


Department of Advanced Computing Sciences

The Department of Advanced Computing Sciences is Maastricht University’s largest and oldest department broadly covering the fields of artificial intelligence, data science, computer science, mathematics and robotics. Over 100 researchers work and study in the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences, whose roots trace back to 1987. The department’s staff teaches approximately 800 bachelor’s and master’s students in 3 specialized study programmes in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.


The department’s research activities span the entire spectrum from curiosity-driven research to responsible societal applications, often taking on an interdisciplinary character. Contributions to areas such as multi-agent systems, (medical) signal and image processing, FAIR principles, game theory and intelligent search techniques are internationally recognized.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering. Maastricht University heavily invests in the growth of its STEM research and education. The Faculty of Science and Engineering – which houses the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences – is one of the focal points of these developments. Within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, over 260 researchers and more than 2,700 students work on themes such as data science and artificial intelligence, circularity and sustainability, and fundamental physics.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • Doctorate
  • AT2022.270


Maastricht University (UM)

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Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, 6229 EN, Maastricht

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