Associate Researcher in the Department of English Language and Literature at KINGS COLLEGE LONDON
King’s College London (KCL) is seeking to appoint a full-time postdoctoral research associate for two years to work on the CHANSE (Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe) funded research project REDACT (Researching Europe, Digitalisation, and Conspiracy Theories) ). The project aims to understand the impact of digitization on the production, consumption, circulation and regulation of conspiracy theories across Europe. It will examine how the conditions of digital mediation and the political, social and historical contexts shape the content, communities, consequences and responses to conspiracy theories online today. REDACT will use a comparative, interdisciplinary framework that combines digital methods, ethnography, and granular analysis of cultural and political discourse to examine the actors, tactics, cultural forms, technologies, and audiences involved in disseminating theories online. of the conspiracy in different European regions as well as the tactics that have been developed to combat them. The project will run from November 2022 to October 2025 and involves collaboration between researchers from the UK, Germany, Slovakia, Estonia and Croatia. The team will be led by Prof. Clare Birchall (KCL) and, in addition to this postdoc position in numerical methods, it includes five co-researchers, three postdocs, a doctoral student and two research assistants.
We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher expert in digital methods to identify the most engaged conspiratorial platforms, websites, blogs and accounts in each case study region (Western Europe, German-speaking countries, Central Europe, Baltic countries and Balkans), with the aim of producing targeted and manageable data sets for each sub-project. Using a variety of numerical methods techniques, the postdoc will map, analyze and produce data visualizations of viral flows between countries and regions for the project as a whole.
The job holder will also spend a month embedded at ISD Global in London, one of the project’s partner organisations. The post holder will be mentored by Professor Birchall, Project Manager, KCL English Department.
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities actively supports the development of a respectful, positive and supportive culture, which supports excellence and fosters growth, both for individuals and for the Faculty as a whole. We are committed to supporting our staff in a variety of ways, from exploring flexible working and job-sharing arrangements to facilitating and encouraging ongoing professional development activities. The department is committed to building an equitable and diverse academic environment. We therefore welcome applicants from underrepresented communities.
This position will be offered on a full-time fixed-term contract until 31/12/2024.
- Drawing on the local expertise and subject matter knowledge of the REDACT team, collect data to identify the most important online conspiracy culture sites, platforms and influencers in each case study country;
- Map and visualize the circulations and interactions of conspiracy theories between languages and regions of the case study;
- Analyze and interpret data through a combination of quantitative and qualitative numerical methods, including data capture and analysis toolkits based on APIs such as CrowdTangle and 4CAT; machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) techniques, such as topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and named entity recognition;
- Use social media analytics and visualization tools such as Gephi to create data visualizations;
- Manage data collections in accordance with the project data management plan;
- Participate in team meetings and collaborate on each sub-project;
- Spend integrated time with project partner ISD Global and collaborate on research sub-projects;
- Disseminate research results in a peer-reviewed journal, a chapter for the project’s co-authored book, and data visualizations;
- Present research findings at national and international workshops and conferences.
The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive and the post holder will be required to undertake the duties and responsibilities reasonably expected within the scope and classification of the post.
Skills, knowledge and experience
1. A PhD in social science with expertise in numerical methods, digital humanities, computational linguistics, data science, or a closely related discipline.
2. Experience in planning and carrying out data collection for research projects.
3. Experience in quantitative online media research (including data collection and management, machine learning, network analysis and automated content analysis), primarily for textual material but also for audiovisual material.
4. Experience in data visualization.
5. Experience with API-based data capture and analysis and knowledge of deep learning architectures such as PyTorch, Keras, and BERT.
6. A track record or consistent plans for high quality research publications.
seven. Proven organizational and administrative skills.
8. Excellent writing and communication skills.
9. A professional and flexible approach to work.
10. Ability to work independently, organize time effectively and competently complete delegated tasks within deadlines.
11. Ability to work as an effective member of a team, including liaising effectively with the PI and Co-Is, and external stakeholders.
12. Willingness to spend a month on an internship with one of the project’s partner organizations in London.
1. Experience in conducting research on popular culture, especially conspiracy theories.
2. Ability to adapt or create software tools to perform necessary research.
3. Python/R programming experience.
4. Experience with machine translation APIs/software and/or data collection in different languages and national contexts
5. Experience working with a large project team.
6. Experience disseminating research and working with stakeholders.
Please note that this is a PhD level position, however applicants who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting their PhD will be considered. In these circumstances, the appointment will be in 5th year, spine 30 with the title of research assistant. Upon confirmation of the PhD award, the job title will change to Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.
Requests should include the following information:
- A cover letter that includes your reasons for applying and why you are an excellent candidate for the position (no more than 1,000 words).
- A full academic CV, including a list of publications and an indication of language skills.
- A relevant writing sample (no more than 10,000 words).
- The names and contact details of two references likely to be approached by the selection committee.
- A 1500-word research statement in which you describe your intended approach to a potential case study/example of a particular conspiracy theory or conspiracy platform/group/account in one of REDACT’s chosen countries . Explain:
a) why/how the case you have chosen is relevant to the project;
b) what data you would collect and how;
c) how you would analyze your case study, using which methodologies;
d) how you would present your results, using which data visualization techniques.