PhD in Network Perspective on the Content and User Behavior

PhD in Network Perspective on the Content and User Behavior

Published Deadline Location
16 Feb 20 Mar 's-Hertogenbosch

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Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) Den Bosch, is proud to start with three large Robust AI labs together with:

Deloitte (Auditing for Responsible AI Software Systems) – 5 PhD’s
DPG Media (Responsible Media Lab) – 5 PhD’s in collaboration with UvA
LaNubia (Innovation Lab for Utilities on Sustainable Technology and Renewable Energy) – 5 PhD’s

Job description

JADS is seeking enthusiastic colleagues for the positions of PhD students. We operationalize the huge ambition around AI by explicitly aligning our research agenda on Robust AI with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.

The project is funded in a public-private partnership by NWO/NLAIC and private partners. This position is part of the Responsible Media Lab. 

Description of the Responsible Media Lab (run jointly by UvA, JADS and DPG Media) 
How can AI contribute to the functioning of the media along the entire production chain (sourcing, production, distribution, engagement), and even fundamentally change aspects of the media as we know it? The lab will explore the potential of AI-driven solutions for the media, their professional role, opportunities for new business models and new ways of engaging with users, while taking into account professional values and the emerging regulatory framework for AI. The lab seeks to develop AI-based methods and solutions that facilitate more diverse news offerings to readers, working alongside human journalists.

The lab is a collaboration between UvA, JADS and DPG media and consists of 5 Ph.D. projects. All Ph.D. trajectories will focus on the development and evaluation of AI-based algorithms and tools to support responsible media production:

  1. Transparency and Explainability of AI Systems and Decisions for News (UvA: Prof.dr. Natali Helberger)
  2. Explaining Recommendations (UvA: Prof. dr. Maarten de Rijke, and JADS: Martijn Willemsen)
  3. Synergies between Platforms (JADS: dr. Ksenia Podoynitsyna and dr. Alexander Vossen)
  4. Network Perspective on the Content and User Behavior (JADS: dr. Ksenia Podoynitsyna and dr. Claudia Zucca)
  5. Generating Content (UvA: dr. Vlad Niculae)

All the Ph.D. students will closely interact with each other as the projects are complementary: they focus on either generating or better understanding the content, fueling further platform functionalities, or understanding interactions with the users of the platforms. While project 1, 3 and 4 focus on different aspects of the socio-technical system, project 2 and 5 are more focused on specific algorithms.

Short Description of the Ph.D. project
Mass media and the contents they produce are a central part of everyone's life. A very diverse set of users consumes mass media content, while perceiving and acting upon it in various ways. Media content is driven by journalistic values and choices, as well as business ones. Exposure to the content affects the way users act in their everyday life. Yet understanding how the users perceive specific topics and themes in the content is far from being straightforward. This project capitalizes on network analysis to model the interconnection between the content and how users react to it by forming preferences to better understand both the content structure and the user behavior in relation to this content. The project further zooms onto the business users to explore how this deeper understanding can fuel new business opportunities.  

Job Description
You will work at the interface of natural language processing (NLP), network analysis and causal inference methods to reach a deeper understanding of the dynamics and implications of mass media exposure. Metrics for understanding the nature of the content (e.g., journalistic values and style) and modeling interactions of the users with the content of multiple platforms and business models will be developed and employed. In this project, we model the relational nature of the process of users engaging with content provided by heterogeneous platforms. 
This project is embedded in the Data Entrepreneurship unit of JADS, one of the three research units next to Data Governance and Data Analytics.


Tilburg University


  • A master’s degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Data Science, AI, Computer Science with a strong management and/or strategy focus on the application side, master's degree in Computational Social Science master's degree, or (Research) master's degree in Management, Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Organization Studies, or a related discipline with a (very) strong quantitative focus
  • A research-oriented attitude.
  • Ability to work in a team and interest in collaborating with industrial partners.
  • Ability to communicate and translate the research results to practice.
  • Prior knowledge and experience in NLP and network analysis methods are a strong pre
  • Competence in R and/or Python; knowledge of Spark is a strong pre. 
  • Academic curiosity and an interest to collaborate in a multidisciplinary context.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English (C1 level).

Conditions of employment

Being appointed at JADS provides a meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious community of 2 universities. Based on the project, the candidate receives an appointment at TU/Eindhoven or Tilburg University.

As a PhD Student at JADS you will have a full-time employment for a total of four years, with an intermediate evaluation after nine months. JADS offers excellent employment conditions with attention to flexibility and (personal) development and attractive fringe benefits. The gross monthly salary is in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities. The minimum gross salary is € 2.541 per month up to a maximum of € 3.247 in the fourth year;

You are entitled to a vacation allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of your gross annual income. If you work 40 hours per week, you will receive 41 paid days of leave per year. PhD Students from outside the Netherlands may qualify for a tax-free allowance of 30% of their taxable salary if they meet the relevant conditions. The university applies for this allowance on their behalf. JADS will provide assistance in finding suitable accommodation.

Preferred starting date: June-September 2023.

To develop your teaching skills, you will spend 10% of your employment on teaching tasks. To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will make a Training and Supervision plan and you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students.

Next to that we offer all kinds of facilities and arrangements to maintain an optimal balance between work and private life. All employees of the university are covered by the so-called General Pension Fund for Public Employers (Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP).  

JADS values an open and inclusive culture. We embrace diversity and encourage the mutual integration of groups of employees and students. We focus on creating equal opportunities for all our employees and students so that everyone feels at home in our university community. 
All researchers working in JADS have contracts at either Tilburg University or Eindhoven University of Technology. Please visit Working at Tilburg University and Working at Eindhoven University of Technology for more information on their respective employment conditions.



We do cool stuff that matters, with data. The Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) is a unique cooperation between Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Tilburg University (TiU). At JADS, we believe that data science can provide answers to society’s complex issues. We provide innovative educational programs, data science research, and support for business and society. With a team of lecturers, students, scientists and entrepreneurs - from a wide range of sectors and disciplines – we work on creating impact with data science. We do this by connecting people, sectors and industries: in the past 5 years we have been working with 300+ organizations on data-related projects. Our main drivers? Doing cool stuff that matters with data. Our location at the former monastery Mariënburg in Den Bosch houses a vibrant campus fully dedicated to data science. 

DPG Media
All Ph.D. projects in the Responsible Media Lab will work with DPG Media, which plays a crucial role in the Dutch society: reaching 92% of the Dutch population, it is the largest media company in the Benelux region of Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg). AI solutions in the news production chain at DPG Media impact all of the Netherlands: the lab will help develop and analyze AI innovations to ensure that this impact is positive. In particular, AI at DPG Media plays an important role in informing the public. Alongside their journalists, AI will enable DPG Media to offer a much more diverse pallet of information to their readers. Furthermore, AI will enable DPG Media to make the online advertising world more balanced, where DPG Media is in control of its own data processing and algorithmic processing, thus creating a much more sustainable situation for advertisers in the Dutch media landscape.

DPG Media will facilitate access to data and resources for all the PhD projects.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society; Economics; Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3245 per month
  • University graduate
  • 21349



St. Janssingel 92, 5211 DA, 's-Hertogenbosch

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