We are looking for talented students who wish to design their own PhD research project on an interdisciplinary topic within the scope of the research expertise of Young Academy Groningen members (please visit http://www.rug.nl/research/young-academy). Two PhD positions are available to conduct research within the project theme of project 1 and project 2 listed below. As a PhD student, you will develop your own research project in consultation with the associated supervisor(s). You will conduct independent and original academic research and report results via peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and ultimately a PhD thesis. The PhD thesis has to be completed within four years. Being part of a cutting-edge research programme, you will receive research training as well as a varied educational training program including transferable skills and future (academic or non-academic) career training for after the PhD trajectory, in the context of our Career Perspective Series.
Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors of the project for further details and clarifications on the research project and on the application process.
Project 1. Project title: Academia in a bind: Data surveillance practices in scholarly publishing
Dr David Cheruiyot (YAG, Faculty of Arts, Assistant Professor in Media/Journalism Studies)
Dr Maeve McKeown (YAG, Campus Fryslân, Assistant Professor in Political Theory)
Dr Lukas Linsi (YAG, Faculty of Arts, Assistant Professor in International Political Economy)
Prof. Lisa Herzog (YAG, Faculty of Philosophy, Professor of Political Philosophy)
This project examines the political economy of academic publishing and its implications to science and global knowledge production. Scholars have recently raised concerns over the research publishing duopoly, consisting of Thomson Reuters and RELX (Reed Elsevier/LexisNexis). These global conglomerates, which amass substantial profits from the global publishing market every year, increasingly expand their dominance from academic publishing towards data analytics. Scientists’ growing dependence on data management infrastructures controlled by these companies have stoked fears over opaque activities in processing, storing, and distributing of private/public research data.
Academics warn that the data analytics approaches pursued by these publishing conglomerates could be detrimental to universities and researchers through the threat of vendor lock-in, hampering public access to information, and also intensifying fears over the sale and/or misuse of personal data. Philosophers have argued that we are entering a new era of surveillance capitalism, in which data is used as a form of social control. However, there is still limited research and understanding in scholarly research as to the extent and impact of surveillance publishing on academic institutions and researchers, as well as the possible risks to data ownership and autonomy.
Data surveillance in the publishing industry risks exacerbating existing challenges in current academic publishing and knowledge production and thus requires urgent attention in research. For instance, scholars argue that the dominance of Elsevier/RELX in the publishing industry limits society’s access to critical scientific works, and, at the same time, also perpetuates a metric-based system in academia. These practices, in turn, may contribute to reinforcing academic exclusivism and widening the gap between marginalised groups and the elite, or the Global South and North in relation to knowledge production.
Against this backdrop, the project seeks to investigate the historical evolution of the academic publishing industry and the financial flows sustaining it, map its current state (including the shift to data analytics) and underlying ethical dilemmas, explore the risks (e.g. privacy and data loss/colonisation of public/private data, and its implications for academic freedom) weighed against the opportunities that publishing corporates provide, and contribute to envisioning viable alternatives in how we organize science as a collective enterprise and public good.
This project takes an interdisciplinary approach in re-examining the political economy of academic publishing, but specifically within the context of today’s growing data surveillance. The project relates not only to knowledge production but also to academic labour exploitation, personal safety/privacy, and institutional autonomy. It further interrogates the desirability and (in)justice of these practices. The areas of research that are essential to this project include: data handling and management, information science and knowledge production, political economy of publishing, critical accounting, policy work and regulation, and, the values underlying these processes and practices.
Qualifications project 1:
The ideal candidate would need to have several if not all of the following qualities:
- a Master’s degree (MA/MSc) in one of the areas that form the backbone of the project (i.e., library science and information management, political economy, critical business studies, political theory, publishing and media industries, data science, media management, science and technology studies, ethics of science, etc), or with a keen interest in key related fields
- intrinsic motivation to conduct research in the topic of the project
- is willing to develop interdisciplinary research skills that combine normative (surveillance capitalism, political epistemology, structural injustice) and empirical research (data science, political economy, media studies)
- is committed to working autonomously in an interdisciplinary team setting
- a demonstrably excellent written and spoken command of English.
Project 2. Project title: Imagining the North. Media-related heritage and place-making practices in the Northern Netherlands
Dr Leonieke Bolderman (YAG, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Assistant Professor in Cultural Geography)
Dr Deborah Castro (Faculty of Arts, Assistant Professor Media Studies)
Prof. Tialda Haartsen (Faculty of Spatial Sciences, Professor of Rural Geography)
Books, films, and music have all put the Northern Netherlands on the map. Ralf Poelman’s ‘Het Gras van het Noorderplantsoen’ is an iconic song for stadjers, while Friesland is represented in ‘de Kameleon’ books and movies. Drenthe was recently promoted through its link with Van Gogh, while the festival Oerol has put Terschelling firmly on the map for many people living in the Netherlands and beyond. Media-related heritage, where narratives from media such as film, literature and music become entwined with tangible and intangible cultural heritage, has the potential to attract tourists, while also constructing place identities and shaping local communities’ senses of place.
Yet, tensions can arise between the different actors involved. For instance, in recent years several festivals have been cancelled after local inhabitants expressed their concerns about the environmental impacts, while a recent documentary revealed the protest and local unrest surrounding the twelve Frysian fountains created for the European Capital of Culture program. What these examples show is that in spite of a growing attention for the role of media in place-making, little is known about the mechanisms through which media narratives contribute to local identities and sense of place, and what processes cause friction. That is why this PhD project centers around the question: how is the Northern Netherlands imagined in media-related heritage, and how does this heritage contribute to local place making practices?
With this question, this PhD project seeks to meet the following three key objectives: (1) to map the media-related heritage currently present in the Northern Netherlands and the images of the North that this heritage puts forward, (2) to analyze the way this heritage is embedded in local structures of governance and promotion and (3) to examine how this type of heritage contributes to, shapes and challenges local place-based identities and senses of place.
Qualifications project 2:
The ideal candidate would need to have several if not all of the following qualities:
- a Master’s degree (MA/MSc) in one of the disciplines that form the backbone of the project (i.e. either in cultural/human geography, media studies, cultural studies, or other relevant social science), with a keen interest in the key disciplines
- a clear research interest in the topic of the project (i.e. is intrinsically motivated). Having experience with and/or intimate knowledge of the cultural field in the Northern Netherlands is an asset
- is experienced in using various methods of qualitative research, such as interviewing and participant observation
- has a demonstrable interest in and experience with interdisciplinary research, and is capable of navigating their own project within an interdisciplinary team setting
- a demonstrably excellent written and spoken command of English (written and spoken command of Dutch is a definite asset).