Postdoctoral Position in Computational Social Science focused on Social Networks: The Political Economy of Distraction in Digitized Denmark

Updated: 12 days ago
Deadline: 15 Nov 2020

Applications are invited for a two-year postdoctoral position at the Copenhagen Centre for Social Data Science (SODAS) at the University of Copenhagen in connection with the project “DISTRACT - The Political Economy of Attention in Digitized Denmark.” Employment is scheduled to begin on 1 Feb 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

DISTRACT is an interdisciplinary research project financed by an ERC Advanced Grant. Bringing together an interdisciplinary team and drawing on SODAS’ broad social data science expertise, DISTRACT explores the political economy of distraction in digitized Denmark in order to break new empirical, methodological and theoretical ground in the social scientific study of attention. Combining new data science techniques, including text mining, machine learning, and natural language processing, with classic social science methods such as randomized experiments, social network analysis and ethnographic fieldwork, DISTRACT thus collects, integrates and analyses qualitative and quantitative data on nature and the dynamics of attention in the world’s most digitized country. The projects is divided into four work packagers, each of which involve collaborations private and public partners including LEGO and Foreningen Folkemødet: WP1: Attention Politics, WP2: Software Developers, WP3: Digital Detox and WP 4; Digital Media in Schools. 

The postdoc will join the WP #2 team, which will also be comprised by co-Pi Assoc. Prof. Anders Blok (sociology/SODAS), Ph.D. student Eva Iris Otto (anthropology, who conducts fieldwork in Danish software companies, and one or more student assistants. Under guidance from Assoc. Prof. Blok, the postdoctoral researcher will be responsible for designing and implementing a computational social networks study on how programmers allocate their attention and resultant attention networks on the GitHub software development platform (and possibly related platforms), relating this also to the ethnographic study.

Located in an attractive building on the Social Science campus across from Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens, SODAS aspires to do cutting-edge and creative interdisciplinary research, teaching and impact in the crossroads between the social sciences and data science.In collaboration with a wide network of partners from UCPH and other universities in Denmark and abroad, as well as private, public and civil society institutions, SODAS is home to several big research projects funded by, among others, the European Research Council, the Carlsberg Foundation and the Villum Foundation.Managed by a director and a steering group, SODAS fully or partly employees four professors, twenty associate and assistant professors and postdocs PhD students as well as a handful of student helpers. SODAS also collaborates closely with digital social science researchers from the Faculty’s five departments involved in social data science and/or teach at the SDS M.Sc. program. Finally, SODAS welcomes a steady flow of guest researchers and research associates from Denmark and aboard.

Job Description and Terms of Employment
The candidate must hold, or be close to holding, a PhD degree in sociology, digital social research, computational social science, network science or a related social science field, and must have expertise in and experience with digital data collection (i.e. scraping), handling of large-scale datasets, and network-statistical description and analysis of relational (and preferably longitudinal) data. Experience with and openness towards interdisciplinary research, and research experience with software development is preferred.

DISTRACT is an intensely collaborative and interdisciplinary project. In addition to being responsible for the computational network study, is therefore expected that the postdoc will work closely with the other researchers who are part of the work package. In joining the wider DISTRACT  team, the candidate will also help deliver both research and outreach impacts detailed in the project proposal. The candidate will also be expected to participate in weekly team meetings;  to attend/organize research events in Denmark and abroad; to prepare and write own and co-publications; and to help disseminate findings to partners and the public. In addition, the candidate is expected to participate actively in the vibrant academic and social life at SODAS by e.g. attending and organizing seminars, lectures, ad hoc reading groups and data sprints.

Upon employment, the candidate will be offered to take part in SODAS and Faculty career-promoting and mentorship initiatives for postdoctoral researchers. Depending on the nature of the contract, this may include an offer undergo formal university pedagogical training (“adjunkt-pædagogikum”), and the possibility to visit a leading partner institutions abroad (e.g. Duke, Stanford, Chicago) whilst employed at UCPH.

Application and Assessment Procedure
The University of Copenhagen invites all qualified applicants, regardless of personal background, to apply for the positions.

In order to apply, please submit a complete application via the UCPH online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon at the bottom of the page to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word. 

The application must be in English and include the following appendices:

  • Appendix 1: Cover letter (max. 2 pages)
  • Appendix 2: Curriculum vitae
  • Appendix 3: A complete list of publications and other relevant outputs (e.g. public dissemination)
  • Appendix 4: A project description (max 4 pages) and a time plan (1 page)) of how the computational social networks study might best be designed, organized, managed and executed.
  • Appendix 5: Sample publication(s) or chapters from PhD dissertation (Max 35 pages)

Please note that applications will be assessed on the basis of these mandatory enclosures. Applicants cannot expect for any additional documentation to be taken into account in the assessment.

After the expiry of the deadline, applicants are selected for assessment by an appointment committee composed by scholars from the DISTRACT/SODAS leadership group. All applicants will then be notified of whether their application has been selected for this shortlist by an academic committee composed by relevant scholars from SODAS and departments at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Shortlisted applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and will have the opportunity to comment on their own assessment. Further information about the recruitment process can be found at

Further information about the position as well as about the DISTRACT project and about SODAS can be obtained from co-PI Assoc. Prof. Anders Blok, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK1353 Copenhagen K, email: , telephone: + 45 3532 4412; or from Principal Investigator of DISTRACT and Deputy Director of SODAS, Professor Morten Axel Pedersen, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, DK1353 Copenhagen K, email: , telephone: + 45 3532 3475.

Terms of Employment

The recruitment process
Further information on the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen can be found here:

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc. For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Research, see

Support for international applicants
The University of Copenhagen offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including support before and during your relocation and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about these services as well as information on entering and working in Denmark here:

Information about the recruitment process is available from HR Pernille Lykke Paulsen, e-mail: , please refer to ID number: 211-0551/20-2I #1

The closing date for applications is 15 November 2020 23:59 CET.

Applications or enclosures received thereafter will not be considered

Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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