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PhD-position: Text mining methods for theory development in the social sciences at Tilburg Uni, Netherlands 2022

The Netherlands

PhD-position: Text mining methods for theory development in the social sciences  at the Department of Methodology and Statistics of Tilburg University, Netherlands 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field:
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: ASAP
Contract Period: 4 years
Salary: € 2.443,- and € 3.122,- gross per month

School of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Tilburg University, the Netherlands


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Qualification Details

The candidate should be knowledgeable about data science, in particular text mining or Natural Language Processing (NLP) more broadly, and also have a broader interest in multidisciplinary challenges in academia, such as the open science movement, the replication crisis, or the theory crisis. The candidate should have completed (or be near the completion of) a master’s degree with excellent academic results in data science, artificial intelligence, computer science, methodology, statistics, mathematics, psychometrics, quantitative psychology, or a related field. The position requires competence in R and/or Python. Academic curiosity and an interest to collaborate in a multidisciplinary context are a prerequisite.

Responsibilities/Job Description

A fully-funded 4-year PhD position is available at the Department of Methodology and Statistics of Tilburg University, to work on the development of text mining methods for qualitative evidence synthesis of the published literature, in order to identify relevant constructs and potentially causal relationships among them. The project will be supervised by dr. Caspar van Lissa, dr. Bennett Kleinberg, and prof. dr. Jeroen Vermunt. The successful candidate will benefit from an active research environment, membership in a prolific research group, and an existing network of national and international collaborations.


Job description The employment is primarily dedicated towards carrying out the proposed research described below, writing several academic articles that are publishable in open access peer-reviewed academic outlets and implementing the resulting methods in open source research software. The position also involves contributing to teaching. The position and the environment in which the candidate will be embedded provide an optimal starting point for a possible academic career. The candidate will follow a customized track of graduate courses as part of the IOPS program which will further develop the candidate’s research skills and background knowledge.

Project description

Title: Text mining methods for theory development in the social sciences.

"Weak theories" limit cumulative knowledge acquisition in the social sciences. Such theories are insufficiently precise to derive testable hypotheses, and can accommodate contradictory findings without needing to be revised. As a result, much empirical research does not contribute to a growing principled understanding of the topic of study, but instead adds to a body of literature that must be interpreted post-hoc. As this literature grows exponentially, it becomes increasingly difficult for researchers to obtain an overarching understanding of a topic with traditional narrative literature reviews. To address this problem, this project seeks to develop methods that harness text mining to automatically digest the empirical literature and extract theoretically relevant information. The project is based on a recent proof-of-concept of "text mining systematic review" (TMSR), a qualitative research synthesis method that identifies relevant phenomena in a corpus of published literature. The PhD candidate will build on and extend this method, for example, to fully automate the extraction of theoretically relevant phenomena from the literature and to identify putative causal relationships among them. The successful candidate will be able to collaborate with experts in theory formation to develop methods to consolidate insights resulting from TMSR into theory, with applied researchers to showcase the developed methods, and with the developers of the open source project ASReview for implementation of the methods and to ensure broader uptake.

How to Apply?

Application Method: Online Application
Ref. No.: 20360

Application Procedure

More information about Tilburg University and Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences can be found on: www.tilburguniversity.edu/nl/.

Apply only by using the link below. Send in your application, with a curriculum vitae and a letter of motivation, before August 8st, 2022. In your CV, please make sure to address your experience with programming. If applicable, please include a hyperlink to a code sample (e.g., on GitHub). It is encouraged that you address how you have contributed or intend to contribute to open science.

Interviews are expected to take place on August 15th, between 09:00 and 14:00 hrs.

About the Employer:

Note or Other details

Initially the appointment will be on a temporary basis for the period of 1 year. After a positive first year evaluation the contract will be prolonged for 3 years.

The salary for the position of PhD-candidate on a full-time basis ranges between € 2.443,- and € 3.122,- gross per month. Tilburg University is among the top Dutch employers and has an excellent policy concerning terms of employment. The collective employment terms and conditions for Dutch universities will apply.

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Contact details

For general questions about the procedure or Tilburg University, contact the department’s secretary Anne-Marie van der Heijden at [email protected] or 013-4663687. For questions about the project or your eligibility you can contact dr. Caspar van Lissa ([email protected]).

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