Three Post-Docs in (Computational) Communication Science

Three Post-Docs in (Computational) Communication Science

Published Deadline Location
27 Jan 17 Feb Amsterdam

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Job description

Do you enjoy
  • engaging in cutting-edge research as part of a larger team?
  • answering theoretically and societally important communication science questions?
  • applying computational approaches yourself and/or working closely together with computationally-minded colleagues?
  • thinking about how (algorithmic) design choices impact news, political information, and public debate?
Then the job as a Postdoctoral Researcher in one of our computational communication science projects is perfect for you. You will become a member of the Political Communication & Journalism group part of the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, as well as the Computational Communication Science Amsterdam Lab.

Specifically, you will be assigned to one of the following three projects.

Project 1 is part of the ongoing project "Modeling news flows: How feedback loops influence citizens beliefs and shape democracy" (NEWSFLOWS). Projects 2 and 3 are part of the upcoming consortium project "Twin of Online Networks" (TWON).

Project 1 is called "NEWSFLOWS-WP4 Feedback loops in different contexts". It is supervised by Anne Kroon and Damian Trilling. We investigate human and algorithmic feedback loops, such as - for example - news recommender systems that tailor content based on user behaviour, and in doing so, shape user attitudes and behaviour. You will be investigating how (1) platform characteristics, (2) time, and (3) media systems shape such feedback loops. First, different platforms have different characteristics and affordances: connections can be reciprocal or not, mechanisms such as 'likes', 'shares', 'retweets', 'claps', 'toots', all have different implications for the dissemination of content. Second, date and time granularity play a role: the dissemination of a piece of information is clearly influenced by the timing of the initial post and the timing of the first shares it receives. Third, the media system matters. For instance, a major criticism of selective exposure theory is that its propositions mainly hold in already polarized contexts and people's attitudes (and hence, presumably their behaviour) regarding news dissemination via social media or algorithmic recommender systems differ widely between countries. Building on tools and approaches developed by other work packages in the NEWSFLOWS project, we will conduct an online field experiment and an automated news dissemination analysis in multiple countries. In particular, we will compare a liberal (Ireland), a democratic-corporatist (Netherlands), a polarized pluralist (France) and a post-communist (Czech Republic) media system. This will allow us to make robust theoretical claims about the effect of feedback loops on diversity and polarization.

Projects 2 and 3 are part of the new consortium project "Twin of Online Networks" (TWON), with partners from the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia, and Serbia. They are supervised by Corinna Oschatz and Damian Trilling. The goal of the project is to develop a novel empirical method for systematically researching the effects of design choices of mechanisms inside online social networks, by creating digital twins of social network sites, called TWONs. Such a TWON can then be used to study counterfactuals, such as: How would the effects look like, had the online social network been designed differently? We will combine empirical observations of existing OSNs, theory-informed simulations, and specific case studies.

Project 2 is called "TWON-WP5-1 Measuring debate quality". In order to evaluate the effects of different platform mechanics, one important pillar is the development of theoretically solid, but also scalable metrics of debate quality. In close collaboration with the other partners, you define a set of scalable metrics, which - based on textual and structural features of social media interactions - help to quantitatively measure how constructive democratic debates are. Specific attention will be paid to issues of ethics, diversity, and inclusion, such as avoiding biases towards minorities. You will do so in two iterations, first creating a prototype that we will then use in the field - and after that, you will further refine the metric. We expect thorough theoretical knowledge about relevant concepts such as theories of democracy and public sphere, the methodological expertise to make solid suggestions on their operationalization in the context of social network sites, and ideally also the skills to implement (a prototype of) these metrics.

Project 3 is called "TWON-WP5-2 Case studies". Together with our academic and societal partners, you will conduct studies on discussions around the conflict in Ukraine and COVID-19. We will start with a pilot, before rolling out a larger study based on the insights we learned. The studies will take place in the context of Germany and the Balkans. To do so, we aim to use innovative methods: In particular, we plan to recruit participants and ask them to donate data on their use of online media to get an estimate of their real-life exposure to content related to these discussions (for more information on data donation, click here). Subsequently, we plan to ask them to use our TWON. Combining log data with survey data, we then get a detailed picture of how people's usage of the TWON depends on the affordances and parameters of the TWON. We expect thorough theoretical knowledge on the usage of social media in a political context, as well as the methodological expertise on to conduct advanced statistical analyses on large and complex datasets.

Please clearly indicate in your application which of these projects you are applying for (it is perfectly fine to select more than one!) and tell us why you would be a perfect fit.
All projects are funded by the European Research Council and are headed by Damian Trilling. Hence, there will be close collaboration between all three hired postdocs as well as with other team members, both inside and outside our university.

What are you going to do

You will:
  • Develop, conduct, and publish research as described in the project descriptions above;
  • Attend national and international conferences to present our research;
  • Contribute to outreach activities;
  • Contribute to project management activities, such as the organization of events, project meetings, and the creation of reports;
  • Collaborate with other researchers within the project and/or consortium, as well as with researchers in related projects;
  • (Potentially teach at the Bachelor and Master level at the Department of Communication Science, see below).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • You are a team player who can work independently;
  • You have a clear research interest in the topic of the position (documented by publications and/or grant applications);
  • You have strong communication skills;
  • You are interested in the methods applicable to the specific project(s) you are applying for (see above), as witnessed by relevant publications.
Your experience and profile:
  • A (nearly) completed relevant PhD degree, typically in communication science or a related (computational) social science field, but also in computational linguistics, information science, or similar;
  • A strong affinity with the research topic, theoretical social-science concepts and models related to the specific project(s) you apply for, (computational) social science methods, and interest in working together with a team of people from different disciplines;
  • Solid expertise with the tools used in the team, especially working with (large, textual) data in Python (potentially R);
  • An excellent written and spoken command of English;
  • First experience with high-quality publications in relevant journals and/or conference proceedings;
  • In case you are interested in a teaching component, teaching experience in line with the department's curriculum.

Conditions of employment

The position concerns employment between of 26 and 38 hours per week for a maximum term of - depending on the specific project and on the starting date - up to 36 months with a probationary period of two months.

For all projects, the preferred starting date is 1 April 2023, although the exact date is negotiable. The maximum length of the contract is determined by the end of the respective projects, being 31-12-2025 for Project 1, and 31-3-2026 for Project 2 and Project 3. Depending on the department's teaching needs, your teaching profile, as well as your preferences, we will make you an individual offer for a full-time contract that may include around 25% of teaching tasks and extends to the full project period, a shorter but full-time research contract, or another arrangement in between.

Depending on your experience, the minimum salary is €3974 and the maximum salary is €5439 gross per month based on a 38-hour working week, in keeping with salary scale 11, as per the Collective Labour Agreement of Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued;
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues;
  • an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

About the faculty

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • Postdoc
  • Behaviour and society
  • 26—38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • 11144


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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