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We are looking for one to two PhD students in Analytical Sociology
Your work assignments
We seek to fill up to two as PhD student (a 4-year full-time salary position) at the Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS). IAS is an interdisciplinary research center on the intersection of analytical sociology and computational social science. The position is advertised within the research project Observatory of Poverty.
This advertisement is for one to two PhD positions (four-year full-time position) on using machine learning and causal inference to evaluate the impact of local development programs in Africa. The candidate will work as part of an interdisciplinary team towards the goals of Observatory of Poverty project which is situated at the AI and Global Development Lab (you will find more information about the Lab at global-lab.ai) and The Institute for Analytical Sociology (IAS).
The vision of the Lab is to “combine AI, earth observation, and socio-economic theories to analyze sustainable and human development globally.” The Lab is mainly located at DSAI and IAS. The Swedish Research Council funds this Lab through a Research Environment Program and a Consolidator Grant. Pilot funding comes from Chalmers AI Research Centre (CHAIR). Google, in partnership with the Group on Earth Observations, provides mentorship and in-kind technical support for the Lab.
The IAS is a highly international, interdisciplinary research center located in Norrköping, Sweden, with a PhD program in Analytical Sociology and an international Masters’ program in Computational Social Science. The research strengths of the IAS include the study of social mobility, cultural sociology, political sociology, organizational theory, social network analysis, and computational text analysis.
About the project
About 900 million people—one-third in Africa—live in extreme poverty. Operating on the assumption that life in impoverished communities is fundamentally so different that it can trap people in cycles of deprivation (‘poverty traps’), major development agencies have deployed a stream of development projects to break these cycles (‘poverty targeting’). However, scholars are currently unable to answer questions such as in what capacity do poverty traps exist; to what extent do these interventions release communities from such traps—as they are held back by a data challenges. This challenge is that there is a lack of geo-temporal poverty data, and thus, one of the goals of the Observatory of Poverty project is to develop new methods to produce such data. As this challenge is already being handled by our team at the AI and Global Development Lab, the prospective candidate will join the Lab to use these data for evaluating the effect of local development programs, using a causal-inference design.
Thus, the candidate will contribute to the following goal: to use our data to identify to what extent African communities are trapped in poverty and explain how competing development interventions alter these communities’ prospects to free themselves from deprivation. To achieve this goal, the project will tackle the following objectives:
To examine how World Bank (WB) development programs versus Chinese programs, select African communities, and how these affect communities’ chances of breaking the cycle of deprivation (using the data of Obj1).
To develop theories of the varieties of poverty traps by examining the extent to which these traps lurk in different social contexts that shape both local governance and public-service provisioning, and how these contexts may be more or less important for Chinese- or WB-styled projects.
Job expectations and opportunities
The candidate will join the AI and Global Development Lab and is expected to produce research that contributes to the listed two objectives or related spin-off objectives (e.g., based on the candidate’s research interest). Such spin-offs are welcomed, especially those that provide a new research angle to the listed objectives.
We publish in top interdisciplinary generalist journals and discipline-specific journals. For the specialist journals, we will adapt our publication strategy depending on the candidate’s background and interest.
We are committed to providing high-quality mentorship for the candidate (see below for more information about the mentorship).
DutiesProject duties include primarily producing your PhD thesis consisting of articles that are publishable in highly ranked social science journals and contribute to other research within the framework of the research project. Attending weekly Lab meetings and presenting ongoing work is also part of the duties. Contributions to methodologically oriented journals and conference proceedings can also be part of the work, depending on the interest of the applicant.
As a PhD student you will primarily focus on your own research and training. You are not allowed to devote more than 20 percent of your time to other tasks such as teaching and administration.
In order to be eligible for the PhD program, you must have a postgraduate degree (MA or equivalent), either in a relevant social science or data/computational science.
Because IAS is an international research environment, the ability to express oneself in English, both orally and in written form, is a prerequisite to carry out the PhD studies. As all the courses and seminars are held in English, Swedish is not a requirement. The PhD student is expected to carry out their doctoral work in residence at the IAS, campus Norrköping, Linköping university, but also to be able to spend some time at our project partners in.
As the project is highly interdisciplinary, we welcome applicants from a variety of social-scientific disciplinary backgrounds, such as sociology, economics, political science, development studies, data science, or social epidemiology. That includes sub-fields (but not restricted to) such as computational social science, political economy, economic sociology, development economics, social determinants of health, poverty, inequality, global issues, sustainable development, and methodology. For those candidates interested in methodology, we can tailor the position so that it aims to conduct methodological development for causal inference in the context of the listed objectives.
Regardless of academic background, to contribute to this research, the candidate should posses the following skills and experiences:
- Excellent communication skills in written and spoken English.
- Excellent coding skills in R, Python, or equivalent language.
- Research interest in causal inference (see e.g., Morgan and Winship, 2014, Counterfactuals and Causal Inference or Imbens and Rubin, 2015, Causal Inference for Statistics, Social, and Biomedical Sciences, or Pearl, 2016, Causal Inference in Statistics)
Desirable skills and experience include:
- Working with temporal and geographical data (or willingness to learn using such data).
- Experience in using machine learning models is welcomed (or willingness to learn using such models).
- Research interest in global development, poverty, inequality, or governance, international institutions, Chinese politics, World Bank, social demography, political sociology, or political economy.
Leadership and mentorship
The AI and Global Development Lab and the Observatory of Poverty project are headed by Adel Daoud, and will be the main supervisor for the candidate (more information is provided at www.adeldaoud.se). A second supervisor will be Connor Jerzak at the University of Texas at Austin (www.connorjerzak.com).
Jerzak received his Master’s in Statistics and Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, where he was advised by Gary King, Kosuke Imai, and Xiang Zhou. Connor completed a one-year postdoc with Adel Daoud and the AI and Global Development Lab at Linköping University (Sweden) while serving as a Visiting Scholar in the Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) at the University of Gothenburg. Since 2022, he has served at the University of Texas at Austin as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government.
Daoud is a Senior Associate Professor at IAS, and an Affiliated Associate Professor in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence for the Social Sciences, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden. Daoud leads The AI and Global Development Lab (global-lab.ai). Previously he held positions at Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, the Max Planck Institute for the Studies of Societies, and the Alan Turing Institute. His research has both a social-scientific and methodological orientation. For the social sciences, he researches the effect of international development interventions on global poverty, but also the impact of sudden shocks (e.g., economic, political, and natural disasters). Daoud implements novel methodologies in machine learning and causal inference to analyze the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality. He has published in journals such as PNAS, Science Advances, or World Development, includig machine-learning conferences such as the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL). In 2022, Daoud was awarded the Hans L. Zetterberg Prize in Sociology which is given annually to young researchers, who with their scholarly work in sociology, preferably by fruitfully combining theory and practice, have advanced the research front. He is also a member of the Swedish Young Academy, which gathers a selection of the top scholars in Sweden across all disciplines.
Daoud, Jerzak, and other members of the Lab are committed to providing high-quality mentorship for the candidate. For example, Daoud is the creator of a new podcast called the Journeys of Scholars. The Journeys of Scholars is a podcast with conversations about the trajectories, macro-micro strategies, habits, and advice of top-class academic performers.
The candidate is encouraged to check out the YouTube playlist (provided here) and some of the recent interviews are the following:
- Pursuing excellence. An interview with Professor Gary King, Harvard University. (Link to the show)
- How to combine academia and entrepreneurship. Continuing the conversation with Prof. King at Harvard. (Link to the show)
- Following your curiosity. Interview with Xiao-Li Meng, Professor of Statistics, Harvard University. (Link to the show)
- Establishing your research program. An Interview with Prof. Stephen Raudenbush University of Chicago. (Link to the show)
- Choosing your academic path. Interview with Professor Christopher Winship, Harvard University. (Link to the show)
- Building excellent research environments. Interview with Professor Peter Hedström, Linköping University. (Link to the show)
- Finding one’s path as a statistician or data scientist. An Interview with Prof. Jennifer Hill, New York University. (Link to the show
Read more about us here: https://liu.se/en/organisation/liu/iei/ias
When taking up the post, you will be admitted to the program for doctoral studies. More information about the doctoral studies at each faculty is available at Doctoral studies at Linköping University
The employment has a duration of four years’ full-time equivalent. You will initially be employed for a period of one year. The employment will subsequently be renewed for periods of maximum duration two years, depending on your progress through the study plan. The employment may be extended up to a maximum of five years, based on the amount of teaching and departmental duties you have carried out. Further extensions can be granted in special circumstances.
Starting date by agreement.
Salary and employment benefits
The salary of PhD students is determined according to a locally negotiated salary progression.
More information about employment benefits at Linköping University is available here.
Information about union representatives, see Help for applicants.
Apply for the position by clicking the “Apply” button below. Your application must reach Linköping University no later than 13 June 2023.
Applications and documents received after the date above will not be considered.
We welcome applicants with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives – diversity enriches our work and helps us grow. Preserving everybody’s equal value, rights and opportunities is a natural part of who we are. Read more about our work with: Equal opportunities. We look forward to receiving your application! Linköping university has framework agreements and wishes to decline direct contacts from staffing- and recruitment companies as well as vendors of job advertisements.
Senior Associate Professor
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