PhD position 'to help rethink news recommenders to nudge users towards more diverse news consumption'

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD position 'to help rethink news recommenders to nudge users towards more diverse news consumption'
  • University Graduate
Are you looking for a PhD position to help rethink news recommenders to nudge users towards more diverse news consumption? In this project, an interdisciplinary team consisting of experts from Law, Computational Linguistics, Computer Science and Communication Science will study what recommendations and presentation choices optimize the diversity of consumed news. Will you help us fix the way news is spread in the 21st century? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE:         1

Job description

In this project you will work on modelling news consumer reactions to algorithmic recommendations to find out how to optimise the recommendations and presentation to maximize the diversity of consumed news. This involves finding a balance between maximizing a normative idea of diversity and presenting news that users find interesting enough to read, and to present and explain the choices in a way to nudge users towards diverse consumption. The experiments that you will conduct form a crucial bridge between the normative model of diversity and the actual design and implementation of the news algorithms, giving you an opportunity to work closely with the other experts on the team.

The project starting date is 1 September 2020. See for more details on the project, and contact us for the full project description.

Your duties

  • Conduct research within the scope of the project culminating in a successful dissertation
  • Writing journal articles and presenting your work on conferences
  • Collaborating with the other junior and senior researchers on the team


  • Master degree in Communication Science or a related field
  • Strong quantitative background and experience in experimental and/or computational research
  • Experience or affinity with working in an interdisciplinary team
  • Excellent communication skills

What you will get from us:

  • Interdisciplinary collaboration in a great team containing experts from Communication, philosophy, law, computer science, computational linguistics
  • Embedding in the Computational Communication Science Amsterdam lab
  • PhD students are regular employees, so full participation in the department, decent salary, pension and health contributions, etc.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a societal engaged organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2325 (scale 85.0) and a maximum €2972 (scale 85.3). The job profile is based on the university job ranking system (UFO) and is vacant for 0.8fte - 1.0 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a good evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended to 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Social Sciences
The Faculty of Social Sciences examines the major social problems of our time from multiple perspectives. From bullying at school to dealing with illegal immigration, from the rise of populist politicians to creating a self-reliant society. Only at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam you will find all the academic disciplines needed to understand these 'wicked problems': alongside the traditional disciplines such as sociology, anthropology and politics, we also research and teach the new social sciences such as communication science and management & organization science. We do not settle for easy answers in our teaching and research. Our researchers and students are critical thinkers and doers who work together to devise surprising solutions to the problems of today.

Working at the Faculty of Social Sciences means working with colleagues from a range of academic disciplines in an inspiring and personal work and study environment with excellent research facilities. We employ more than 250 staff members, and we are home to around 2,500 students.

About the project
In this project, you will work in the Computational Communication Science Amsterdam lab. This is a collaboration between the VU and UvA and a world leading research group in the use and development of computational methods for studying communication. The project is also embedded in the Computational Lexicology and the UvA Institute for Information Law and we will closely collaborate with TU Delft, Leiden, and our media partners including NPO and Beeld & Geluid.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae (as far as applicable, including a list of publications, examples of academic service and societal relevant activities, and link to public code repositories such as github) and cover letter until May 1st, 2020. The first round of job interviews will be executed through video-conferencing and are planned for the second half of May. The second round will be either face-to-face or online, depending on developments around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Wouter van Atteveldt
Position: Project leader

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