PhD Candidate in Fair and Transparent Recommendations

PhD Candidate in Fair and Transparent Recommendations

Published Deadline Location
19 Jan 12 Feb Maastricht

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Interested in fair and explainable Artificial Intelligence? Then join us at the Department of Advanced Computing Sciences (DACS), Maastricht University, to work in an interdisciplinary lab on fair and transparent advertisements recommendations together with RTL, University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Maastricht University Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FaSoS)

Job description

In a world of an increasing number of choices, recommender systems play an important role mediating between product providers and end customers, suggesting items for people to try or buy. As a PhD researcher you will apply and improve current methods for assessing fairness in recommender systems over time, for the different stakeholders, implement novel explainable strategies that consider fairness, in the context of recommendations of advertising, and evaluate the effectiveness of these explanations in user studies.

You will be part of one of the 17 new ICAI labs, named TAIM (Trustworthy AI for Media Lab) consisting of 5 PhD students, who will collaborate on developing methods, metrics and tools to evaluate and improve diversity and inclusion in media. The TAIM lab will bring together two of the strongest groups on personalization and recommender systems in the Netherlands (UM and UvA), with a leading media organization (RTL), to develop trustworthy and personalized media.

The TAIM lab is part of the large LTP ROBUST program “Trustworthy AI-based Systems for Sustainable Growth”consortium, comprising 17 universities, 19 industry partners, and 15 collaborating partners representing diverse stakeholder groups. You will gain valuable experience working with an industry partner, and will be able to tap into a wealth of networking, career development, and training opportunities in conjunction with ICAI, the Innovation Center for Artificial Intelligence at the University of Amsterdam

This PhD position in Fair and Transparent Recommendations is embedded in the current Explainable Artificial Intelligence (EAI) and Cognitive Systems (CS) groups of DACS. The groups consists of full Professors and Associate & Assistant Professors, postdoctoral researchers, PhD candidates and master/bachelor students. Each group works closely together 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 and Computer Vision. 

The PhD candidate will also benefit from a strong industry and research network such as involvement with a Marie-Curie European International Training Network on Interactive Natural Language Technology for Explainable Artificial Intelligence (NL4XAI, the integration with AI hub Brightlands and with the AI, Media & Democracy Lab in Amsterdam.

We expect you to:

  • perform scientific research in explainable AI and explainable recommender systems;
  • publish results at top-tier (international) conferences and in international journals;
  • work independently, as well as collaboratively in both research oriented and in applied settings;
  • assist with educational tasks (e.g., assist labs, supervise Master students and internships).


Maastricht University (UM)


  • M.Sc. degree (completed, or to be completed shortly) in Computer Science, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, or equivalent;
  • Proven programming skills,
  • Demonstrated (e.g., through publications, code, projects, etc.) interest and experience with the field of explainable AI, and at least one of the following fields: machine learning, recommender systems, or computational measures of fairness.
  • Proficiency in English (oral and written);
  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Ability to collaborate in a multi-disciplinary and international setting;

Additionally, we would like it if you have:

  • Experience with user-centered evaluation methodologies;
  • Experience in both backend and frontend development;

If your profile does not completely meet the above criteria, but you are interested and you want to show us your unique perspective on why you would fit this project, we would still like to hear from you.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years (first year + three years after receiving a positive evaluation).

The full-time position is offered for a duration of four years, with yearly evaluations. You will be based in Maastricht. Additionally, you will closely collaborate with a leading entertainment brand, RTL, by working at their premises one day per week in Hilversum.

The salary will be set in PhD salary scale of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities (€2.541 gross per month in first year to €3.247 in the fourth and final year). 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). For more information please check the website > About UM > Working at UM.

Preferred starting date is April 2023.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. For more information, visit


DACS: 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. It launched as the joint identity of two Maastricht University research groups: the Institute of Data Science (IDS) and the former Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering (DKE)  

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. A new bachelor's programme in Computer Science will be added in 2023

You are joining a unique team formed of:

FaSoS, Maastricht University: The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) has about 250 staff members, and about 1,730 students. More than 77% of the students are non-Dutch (65 different nationalities). All programmes are offered in English and some are also offered in Dutch. FASoS offers four 3-year bachelor’s programmes: Arts and Culture, European Studies, Digital Society and Global Studies. It also offers eight different 1-year Master’s programmes and two 2-year research master’s programmes.

Research is organised around four programmes: Politics and Culture in Europe; Science, Technology and Society Studies; Arts, Media and Culture; and Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is housed in the historic city centre of Maastricht.

RTL: RTL Nederland is the leading commercial media and entertainment company in the Netherlands. We are on a mission to make a meaningful difference in people's lives with unforgettable stories that touch the heart and mind. With our five free-to-air TV channels and our popular digital brands - including our video-on-demand platform Videoland, catchup platform RTL XL, weather app Buienradar and news platform RTL Nieuws - we reach millions of customers every month. RTL aims to be an inclusive media company that tells diverse local stories and shows role models that everyone in the Netherlands can recognize and be inspired by. To achieve this, we are increasing diversity both in front of and behind the scenes. RTL is based in Hilversum, The Netherlands, just a short train ride from Amsterdam and Utrecht.

UvA: The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by aculture of curiosity. The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.  The mission of the Informatics Institute (IvI) is to perform curiosity-driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The main research themes are Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science and Systems and Network Engineering. Our research involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on collaborative, data driven, computational and intelligent systems, all with a strong interactive component.


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2023.33


Maastricht University (UM)

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Paul-Henri Spaaklaan 1, 6229 EN, Maastricht

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