PhD scholarship in Social Data Science, University of Copenhagen (UCPH)

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 15 Aug 2021

DISTRACT - The Political Economy of Distraction in Digitized Denmark

Applications are invited for a PhD scholarship at the Copenhagen Centre for Social Data Science (SODAS ) at the University of Copenhagen as part of the ERC-funded project “DISTRACT: The Political Economy of Attention in Digitized Denmark .”

Employment is scheduled to begin November 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 the nature and the dynamics of attention in the world’s most digitized country. The project is divided into four work packagers, each of which involve collaborations with private and public partners including LEGO and Foreningen Folkemødet: WP1: Attention Politics; WP2: Software Developers; WP3: Digital Detox; and WP 4: Regulating Distractions.

The PhD researcher will join the WP # 4 team, which is also comprised by Co-PI Professor David Dreyer Lassen (Economics/SODAS) and Dr. Helene Willadsen (Economics/SODAS) and one or more student assistants. The PhD researcher will be doing research on attention technologies and practices in schools and/or workplaces, including – but not limited to – how students’ and employees’ productivity, innovation capacity and cooperation are affected by blended physical and digital presence. Methodologically, the PhD researcher will deploy social data science techniques and organize and execute qualitative and ethnographic data collection and analysis in collaboration with the rest of the work package team. Finally, the PhD researcher is expected to contribute to the execution and preparation of data collection from experiments.

Applicants must have a background in sociology, psychology, economics, political science, anthropology, computational social science, cognitive science, natural language processing or a related field, and have experience with the collection, processing and analysis of qualitative - and ideally also quantitative – data. Experience with and openness to working in an interdisciplinary research environment is preferred.

Duties and Responsibilities
Further information about the PhD study program is available on the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences:

Under "Legal basis" on the website you will find information about the rules and guidelines for the PhD programme and the Danish Ministerial Order on the PhD programme at the Universities.

Job description
The positions are available for a 3-year (for applicants with a master degree) or a 4-year (for applicants with four years of course work). The tasks of the PhD students are to:

  • Participate in and contribute to their respective work packages and DISTRACT project as a whole
  • Write and co-author scientific articles and other scientific outputs to be included in the PhD thesis
  • Attend and complete PhD courses in accordance with the PhD program in Social Science
  • Participate in and co-organize workshops/seminars/conferences
  • Teach in the MSc programme in Social Data Science and/or other degree programme at the Faculty
  • Visit a research institution abroad for minimum of two months (pending Covid-19 restrictions)
  • Participate actively in scholarly and social life at SODAS

DISTRACT is an intensely collaborative and explicitly interdisciplinary project. In joining our team, the PhD candidate must help deliver the research and outreach impacts detailed in the project proposal. The candidate will also be expected to participate in weekly team meetings; to attend research events in Denmark and aboard; to write individual and co-publications; and to help disseminate findings to partners and the public. In addition, the PhD candidate is expected to participate actively in the vibrant academic community and social life at SODAS by e.g. attending seminars, lectures, reading groups and data sprints.

Qualifications and Terms of Employment
We seek candidates with a strong social science background who quality for 5+3 (3 year PhD programme) or the 4+4 (4 year PhD programme) in Social Science. In the assessment, emphasis will be put on academic track-record, experience with digital social science research, the project proposal, and interdisciplinary experience. Excellent English language skills are required. The ability to read, speak and ideally write Danish will be an advantage due to the specific nature of the object of investigation.

To be eligible for the 5+3 PhD scholarship, applicants must have completed a two-year MSc degree programme, or have earned 120 ECTS credits at an equivalent academic level. The position includes a work obligation of up to 840 hours over the 3-year period. This will, typically, include teaching or supervision.

PhD students under the 4 + 4 model, who have completed a BSc and 60 ECTS of a relevant MSc degree, will enrol as PhD students simultaneously with completing their enrolment in this MSc degree programme. Until an MSc degree is obtained, the grant will be paid partly in the form of up to 48 state education grant portions (in Danish: “SU-klip”). More specifically, the PhD student will be paid two grant portions per month plus salary for work (teaching, supervision etc.) totalling a workload of at least 280 hours. Upon completion of the MSc degree the PhD student will transfer to the salary-earning part of the scholarship.

The terms of employment and payment are according to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure. Salary range starts at DKK 27,568.13 per month incl. PhD supplement.

The University of Copenhagen invites all qualified applicants, regardless of personal background, to apply for the positions. In order to be awarded a PhD scholarship the applicant has to enrol as a PhD student at the Faculty of Social Sciences, cf. the rules of the Danish Ministerial order No 1039 of 27 August 2013.

Application and Assessment Procedure
Submit a complete application at our 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 accompanied by the following appendices:

  • Cover Letter (max 2 pages) detailing the applicant’s motivation and background for applying
  • Project proposal (max 5 pages) comprising (a) an outline of proposed research project and its contribution to work package 4 (Regulating Distractions); (b) a description and reflections on experiences with social data science methods and interdisciplinary collaboration; (c) broader thoughts and ideas on how to contribute to making DISTRACT an agenda-setting social data science project.
  • CV
  • Diploma and transcripts of records (BSc and MSc)
  • Rough time plan/schedule
  • Budget
  • List of publications (if any)

After the expiry of the deadline, applicants are selected for assessment by an appointment committee composed by PI’s from DISTRACT and other research leaders from SODAS. All applicants will then be notified of whether their application has been shortlisted for assessment by an academic committee. Shortlisted applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and will have the opportunity to comment on their own assessment. 

Further information can be obtained from the PI of DISTRACT, Professor Morten Axel Pedersen ( ) or from co-PI Dr. Kristoffer Albris ( )

On the website of Copenhagen Graduate School of Social Sciences you will find information about the application process, and enclosures to include with your electronic application:

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

The following criteria are used when shortlisting candidates for assessment:

1. Research qualifications as reflected in the project proposal.

2. Quality and feasibility of the project.

3. Qualifications and knowledge in relevant Anthropology disciplines.

4. Performance (grades obtained) in graduate and post-graduate studies.

5. The Centre for Social Data Science (SODAS) can offer adequate supervision for the research topic in question.

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

International applicant
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:

Contact information
Information about the recruitment process is available from Lotte Strandberg HR, e-mail: , please refer to ID number: #1 211-0733/21-2H

The closing date for applications is August 15 2021, 23:59 CEST

Applications received after the deadline will not be taken into account.

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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