PhD Researcher in Data Bodies

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research . The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis  (ASCA)is one of six research schools and as a vacant PhD position on Data Bodies, which is part of AI for Health Decision-Making, a new research priority area (RPA) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA).  The project is developed in collaboration between the Faculties of the Humanities and Medicine, and is led by Prof. Dr. Tobias Blanke (Humanities & AI), Prof. Dr. Thomas Poell (Data, Culture & Institutions), Prof. Dr. Ivana Išgum (AI and Medical Imaging) and Prof Dr Alexander Vlaar (AMC).

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.

What are you going to do

From a critical humanities perspective, the suggested project on Data Bodies maps how hospital communities as a whole (patients and doctors) and their relations are mediated through data and algorithmic decisions. More specifically, it examines how data and algorithmic decisions are employed in two proof-of-concept applications of AI-driven health decision-making. The project is situated within the Research Priority Area on Health AI of the UvA, which is led by the Health Faculty. The PhD will be part of this initiative and will work with other researchers from Health, Law and Computer Science. Adopting a ‘data lens’, this PhD project aims to understand the moment of information as it finds its way across the AI-driven decision-making process. It offers insights into how human and machine agents get in contact with each other, how value is added through reasoning, what happens when, e.g. issues/errors are discovered and how they are corrected.

Data Bodies will be operationalized through a mixed method, participatory research methodology to explore the representation and experience of bodies through data and reasoning with data in AI. We will map how Data Bodies are constructed within the process of AI modelling in healthcare and how differences in body representations might generate ethical dilemmas. Do data forms and flows respect patients’ and public values? How is the hospital community affected by differences in data bodies? And how are these data processes embedded in the larger organization of the hospital and related to legacy systems of patient monitoring? The research is concerned with the ways in which patients' digital information is collected, stored, and shared in health processes. A detailed critical study of different data forms and flows will show how the involved data systems are ethically and historically constituted and materialize uncertainty of measurements and predictions that influences the behaviour of medical professionals and patients alike.

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • conducting empirical research, writing publications;
  • participating in conferences and seminars.
  • participation in the ASCA and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • teaching courses at BA-level or other types of activities in the 2nd and 3rd year of the appointment (0,2 FTE per year).

What do we require of you
  • A completed Masters degree with a relevant specialization within humanities or social sciences.
  • You may apply if you have not yet completed your Masters degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 1 January 2022;
  • An affinity with empirical research using relevant qualitative and/or quantitative methods
  • Excellent command of English.
  • Good command of Dutch would be an advantage, but we also offer courses.

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

Our offer

We offer a temporary full-time contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The preferred starting date is 1 January 2022.

The gross monthly salary will be €2,434 during the first year to reach €3,111 during the fourth year, based on 38 hours per week, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities . This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

What else do we offer

  • PhD candidates receive a tuition fee waiver.
  • PhD candidates have free access to courses offered by the Graduate School of Humanities and the Dutch National Research Schools .
  • Excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.
  • An enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team.

We offer a challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The new RPA will constitute a hub for interdisciplinary research regarding AI-driven health decision-making by joining expertise and forces across UvA faculties, embedding these long-term in their research profiles. You will contribute to setting-up a novel infrastructure and define procedures for data collection, develop AI technology to support real clinical decision-making, perform validation, and initiate valorization.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Curious about our organisation and attractive fringe benefits such as a generous holiday arrangement and development opportunities? Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions, or do you require additional information? Please contact:

  • Prof. Dr. Tobias Blanke

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognise yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include the following information, in one pdf file (not zipped):

  • an application letter describing your qualifications, motivation for the position and interest in the topic (maximum 2 pages);
  • a research proposal of maximum 1000 words, including theoretical perspective(s) and methodologies you would draw on;
  • A full academic CV;
  • a transcript of your Bachelor’s and Master's degrees. Applicants with education from a foreign university must attach an explanation of their university's grading system;
  • the contact information for two academic references (no letters of recommendation need to be sent in at this point).

Please upload your one pdf file under the CV button.

The response period closes on 19 October 2021. Only complete applications submitted as one pdf file - received within the response period via the link below - will be considered.

The interviews will be held in the course of the end of October and the first week of November 2021.


No agencies please


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