Postdoctoral position within Research Priority Area Personalised Communication

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences and Faculty of Law

26 februari 2018
€3,475 to €4,757 gross per month, based on 38 hours a week
4 april 2018
32 to 38 hours per week

The Research Priority Area Personalised Communication is a collaboration between the Amsterdam School of Communication Research ASCoR and the Institute for Information Law (IvIR). Both research institutes are among the leading in the world. 

We currently have postdoctoral vacancies as part of the RPA project, directed by Prof. Claes de Vreese and Prof. Natali Helberger.

Project and job description

'Personalised communication' is a term that captures one of the key developments in present-day digital communication. It is a phenomenon that presents a number of advantages, disadvantages and challenges, which we will examine in this research programme. On the one hand, profiling users and targeting them with customised messages may present a solution to certain challenges created by modern media, such as information overload and ensuing attention scarcity. Through personalised content, search results and applications (apps), consumers’ consumption patterns and profiles can be analysed individually; health information can be targeted to improve certain lifestyle choices and manage diseases; and political information can be adjusted to individual voter profiles. On the other hand, personalised communication can manipulate or bias information which, in the worst case, can deprive people of access to more meaningful or more diverse information. This can have a number of worrying effects or conflict with values such as our right to privacy and freedom of expression. Furthermore, personalised communication offers unprecedented opportunities for unfair stereotyping, discrimination and social sorting.

The RPA in its first years has generated a broad basis of scientific knowledge and is currently looking for a Postdoctoral / scientific programmer with an interest in the research area and a formal background in computer science/ data science or social sciences with extensive programming experience.

The researcher will:

  • conduct (interdisciplinary) legal research;
  • develop concepts to be tested empirically;
  • work with existing data sets (survey data, tracking data);
  • design and collect new data fitting within the project themes;
  • work in the broader Personalised Communication team;
  • complete scientific papers on this topic;
  • contribute to the public debate, and organising outreach activities of the project;
  • contribute to fundraising activities at the ASCoR/IvIR and the project.

The position is 32 to 38 hours (0.8-1.0 FTE) per week. An 0.8 appointment, possibly with .2 FTE teaching time.


The candidate should have:

  • an advanced degree (e.g., PhD degree) in data science or communication or other social science with outstanding data mining and analysis skills. Candidates who are due to submit their dissertation before 1 September 2018 are welcome to apply;
  • active research knowledge of, and expertise in, modern search and text mining methods;
  • experience programming in at least one of the following languages: Python (2.7/3.x);
  • experience with webmining/ webscraping;
  • experience with Natural Language Processing (NLP) (Topic Modelling / Machine Learning is a plus);
  • additional pros are database handling experience, Git skills, Bash scripting and / or elastic search/Hadoop;
  • some teaching and supervision experience;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • team spirit, willingness, and commitment to do autonomous work in a multidisciplinary team, including communication scholars, legal scholars, and data scientists.

Further information

Questions about the application procedure and other general questions may be addressed to:


The position preferably starts 1 September 2018. It concerns, in principle, a two-year period after an initial test period.

For postdoctoral researchers the monthly gross salary, depending on your knowledge and experience, will range between €3,475 and €4,757 (Scale 11) based on a full-time basis.

We offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year, and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

To apply for this position, please send at least the following documents in English by e-mail to

  • a motivation letter, including a brief discussion about how the candidate sees her/his fit with the topic and objectives of the RPA;
  • a curriculum vitae, including publication list and overview of academic activities and achievements thus far (e.g., conference visits, courses taken, awards);
  • proof of your PhD degree. If you have not completed your degree at the time of application, please provide a statement from your supervisor confirming the expected date of completion of your degree;
  • an academic writing sample in English (e.g., journal article, PhD dissertation) and
  • a list of names that could be consulted by the RPA as a reference for the candidate (no reference letters required).

Please send all your documents in PDF or doc(x) format. Only complete applications will be considered.

The deadline for applications is 4 April 2018. Please state vacancy number 18-089 in the subject line of your application. #LI-DNP

No agencies please

Gepubliceerd door  Universiteit van Amsterdam