PhD Position on Interdisciplinary Research Project on Persuasion and Manipulation in Digital Contexts
Updated: 04 Oct 2023
How do smart technologies influence us in online settings, and should we worry about this? In this project you are going to analyse misinformation and persuasion on the web, and you will do as part of an interdisciplinary research team.
Smart technologies influence and 'nudge' human behaviour in ways that users are unaware of, for example when they use Chat GPT without knowing what sources the information is based on, when they believe these systems have meaning and agency, or when they are not aware of the algorithms that underlie recommender systems used by, for example, YouTube or Amazon. In most cases, smart technologies are developed to make users' life easier, by doing much of the information searching and filtering for the user. Potential downside of the ease of use of these technologies is, however, that citizens increasingly use information without reflecting on its accuracy, representativeness, or authenticity, because they are no longer required to think. This could represent a danger for modern democracy, for example by making citizens vulnerable to filter bubbles, micro-targeting and fake news about societally relevant themes, and by making them lose sight of, and interest in, the distinction between what is real and what is not. They might assume, for example, that if nobody can discern the difference between authentic and non-authentic information, this difference is trivial.
In the present project you will join forces with iHub and the Centre for Language Studies to explore these, and related, questions in an interdisciplinary team to better understand current information ecosystems and conceive of interventions to counter pernicious persuasion and manipulation in digital contexts.
Together with your supervisors, you will develop your own research proposal and test it in a series of empirical studies. You will present the research outcomes at national and international conferences, and you will write at least three articles for international high-impact journals, to be included in your dissertation. You will be part of a research school and take academic courses to increase your knowledge and skills. Furthermore, you will contribute to teaching or academic services (approximately 10% of your time). You will write a doctoral dissertation and publicly defend it to obtain the degree of doctor.
- You preferably have a Research Master's degree in Linguistics and/or Communication Science, Computational Communication Science, or Computer Science, or you have completed a regular Master's degree in one of these areas and have proven experience in conducting research.
- You have proven expertise in a relevant research domain, such as algorithmic persuasion, misinformation, online influence, recommender systems, or filter bubbles, as evidenced by relevant courses and/or research projects.
- You have good writing skills in English and preferably also in Dutch.
- You preferably have proven affinity with academic research, as evidenced by relevant publications or conference presentations.
- You have affinity with interdisciplinary research and you are able to communicate with experts from different disciplines.
- Employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
- The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
- You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
- You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
- You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
- Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.