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PhD position in computer sciences in the context of ERC project "Processing Citizenship"

University of Twente. Enschede (Niederlande), 07.09.2017

PhD position in computer sciences in the context of ERC project "Processing Citizenship"


Function types
Scientific fields
Job number
About employer
PhD positions
Economics, Behaviour and Society
38.0 hours per week
€ 2222 - € 2840
University Graduate
University of Twente (UT)

Job description

Intensifying migration waves are not only challenging European policies and polities, but also transforming the way knowledge about individuals, institutions and territory is created. While most policy-makers, sociologists, journalists look at the legal and political challenges of migration, this project focuses on its technical aspects. Information systems are key enablers of new forms of knowledge. They materialize legislative, normative, administrative dynamics in which citizenship, modern polities and territory are co-produced. In this project we want to learn how data infrastructures for migration management transform the way we come to experience European (individual and institutional) identities.

As a PhD, you have a strong computer science background - notably in data analytics, knowledge representation, artificial intelligence or related fields - while at the same time you should be interested in working in an interdisciplinary team, with heterogeneous but complementary research goals. You are expected to analyse ontologies and algorithms, to compare them across different institutional information systems, to design and develop strategies to measure and enhance data quality under uncertain conditions, to increase interoperability among databases, and to develop systems to track and visualize data circulation.
We offer an interdisciplinary, interactive and international research environment in a leading Science and Technology Studies (STS) department, in collaboration with the Institute for ICT research in Context (CTIT, The appointee will work as part of a trans-disciplinary team of six, including ethnographers, computer scientists and social scientists, under the supervision of the Principal Investigator and co-supervision by CTIT.

You will be presented with three main research challenges. The first challenge requires to extract and analyse data models from heterogeneous institutional sources. The second challenge will require you to design strategies for increasing data quality across not-yet-interoperable data architectures and in uncertain conditions. The third challenge will require you to engage in interdisciplinary work with non-technical team members, as required by this inter-disciplinary ERC project.

In particular, you will be expected to conduct the following activities:
  • to conduct techno-social analysis of data models and algorithms (in collaboration with other team members), e.g., how are the same types of data classified in different information systems, and with which effects?;
  • to design and develop strategies to measure and enhance data quality under uncertain conditions, and increase interoperability of migrant-related databases (in collaboration with CTIT’s data science group);
  • to design and develop software to track and visualize data circulation (in collaboration with UT’s ITC faculty);
  • to provide support to interviews with IT developers at European and national agencies level.
As part of the team, you will also conduct communication and organizational activities related to the project, and participate in publications and conferences. The PhD will also submit a final dissertation, on a topic drawn from your involvement in the project. You might be asked to supervise (1-2) master students.
You will receive initial training in STS and information systems and social research methods, as member of the Processing Citizenship team and of the Netherlands Graduate Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (


You have a master degree in Computer Sciences, Data Science, Information Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Business IT or close disciplines.

  • Master degree completed by the deadline
  • Highly proficient in data analysis and management
  • Expert understanding of database architectures, including interpreting data sets modelled in heterogeneous ways
  • Proficiency in English as daily working language
  • Commitment to the project’s success, willingness to collaborate in a research team, share data, write joint publications and acquire social science-related skills
  • Excellent administrative and organizational skills, including the ability to plan one’s work, meet deadlines, familiarity with resource management and willingness to accept Horizon2020 administrative and ethical behaviour guidelinesDesirable
  • Experience as non-graduate student supervisor
  • Understanding of the potential non-academic impact of the research and ways of engaging with it
  • Knowledge of major sociological literature on data infrastructures
By the end of the program, even if this is not the core of your activities, you will also acquire skills in sociological analysis of information systems. A similar combination of techno-social skills is not only more and more key to access middle-high positions in engineering environments, but it is also functional to achieve a thorough understanding of the social impact of data infrastructures. You will develop cutting-edge research skills, e.g. by being able to acknowledge and tackle the methodological limitations and design constraints that software-based techniques impose on hypothesis formulation and testing.
You should submit your application via before October 1, 2017 h. 23:59 (CET).

Applications should include:
  • a motivation letter describing why you would be a good fit for this interdisciplinary project, and why you wish to embark on a PhD trajectory;
  • curriculum vitae, including university qualifications and grades;
  • an article or other recent research output clearly showing your expertise in data management;
  • email and telephone contact information for two referees (for PhD position, please notify them in advance that they might be contacted).
Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.
Interviews will take place in October 2017. In case needed, a second round of interviews will be conducted. For more information on this position please contact Dr. Annalisa Pelizza (Principal Investigator)

The University of Twente reserves the right to make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.

Conditions of employment

We offer a full-time contract spanning a period of four years. The appointee is expected to take office as soon as possible in fall 2017. The monthly salary starts at € 2.222 gross per month in the first year, leading up to € 2.840 gross per month in the last year.
The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labor Agreement for Universities (CAO). Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus. We offer excellent auxiliary terms of employment, such as professional and personal development programs; a secondary remuneration package; a dynamic environment with enthusiastic colleagues; an organization focusing on internationalization and a high degree of responsibility and independence. Last but not least, the University of Twente combines a unique location at the core of Europe - with major cities easily reachable by train (e.g., Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Düsseldorf and the Ruhr Area) - with a truly international academic environment and a high quality of life.


The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through social engineering these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our Institutes on Governance (IGS), ICT (CTIT), Health (MIRA) and Nanotechnology (MESA+).

The Department of Science, Technology, and Policy Studies (STePS), University of Twente, The Netherlands, takes the assessment and governance of innovations and emerging technologies as its central theme of teaching and research. STePS considers in particular strategic issues that are multidisciplinary: they involve developments in science, technology, politics and society, as well as interaction between them. Studies conducted within STePS link analytical and normative perspectives, and consider not only technological innovations but also innovations in governance (

Bewerbungsschluss: 01.10.2017