PhD Respecting data protection by design and default in knowledge graphs 1.0 FTE


Faculty of Law


University of Groningen

This position is hosted by the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen. The Faculty of Law is a modern, internationally oriented institution with a four-hundred-year-long tradition. The Faculty of Law has more than 4.000 students and almost 350 staff members and is thus one of the largest faculties of the University of Groningen. The selected candidate will work with other colleagues in the Security, Technology and e-Privacy Research Group (STeP) organised within the Department of Transboundary Legal Studies. STeP consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers collaborating with other departments in the faculty and/or funded by externally raised funds and international guests-researchers. The team covers many areas of information policy & technology law including privacy, data protection, security sciences, surveillance, cybercrime, self-regulation and health informatics. The STeP Research Group currently co-ordinates and participates in a number of European funded projects including the KnowGraphs project to which this PhD position is linked.

Job description

The KnowGraphs project
The “Knowledge Graphs at Scale” (KnowGraphs) project is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), under the European Commission’s H2020 Work Programme. The overall objective of KnowGraphs is to scale knowledge graphs to be accessible to a wide audience of users across multiple domains including (1) companies (in domains including Industry 4.0, bio-medicine, finance, law) of all sizes and even (2) end users (e.g., through personal assistants and web search). Addressing this goal demands a mix of works from the theoretical foundations to the exploitation and economic repercussions of knowledge graphs. The project will research and develop novel methods, models and frameworks using a cross-disciplinary mix of methods from Web Science, Data Science, Knowledge Representation, Knowledge Engineering, Big Data, data law, and business innovation. The results will be applied across sectors, i.e., in domains including personalized medicine, Industry 4.0, question answering, personal assistants and Web search.

This PhD position is one of 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Fellowships funded with KnowGraphs. This research project (ESR15) will research: Respecting data protection by design and by default obligations in knowledge graphs

The main objective of this research is to explore the applicability of the newly introduced Article 25 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation on data protection by design and by default whenever personal data is processed. Technical and organisational measures for safeguards that meet the GDPR and protect the rights of data subjects.

Expected outcomes:
Expected Results: A PhD thesis, several reports and research publications exploring (i) understanding of the applicability of the principles of data protection by design and by default to knowledge graphs (ii) identifying technical and organisational measures, and the design of data protection audits for knowledge graphs.

Main supervisor: Prof. Jeanne Pia Mifsud Bonnici, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Planned secondments: There are two secondments at a KnowGraphs partner organisation planned.


Academic qualifications:

• Master's Degree in Law, preferably with specialisation in IT law / data protection law
• Bachelor Degree / or other studies in computer science/information technology
• Excellent results during your studies.

Selection criteria:
• quality of the candidate assessed through the candidate’s academic merit and relevant professional experience
• candidates with a proven track record in the fields of law of privacy and data protection, human rights law, or computer science/IT will be given preference
• the candidate should also possess a sound working knowledge of quantitative & qualitative research methods, computer science research methods, legal research methods, and legal research databases.

Language requirement:
Candidates who have completed their Master degree in an institution where English is not the language of instruction must present one of the following Secure English Language Test (SELT) results as follows:
• TOEFL Internet-Based (iBT) – an overall score of at least 94 with a score of at least 25 in the writing section and 23 in each of the other sections
• academic IELTS – an overall score of at least 7 with a score of at least 7 in the writing component and 6.5 in each of the other components
• the test results must not be older than 24 months on the date of the application deadline.

Personal attributes:
• excellent oral and written communication skills and an ability to communicate effectively across different stakeholder groups
• flexibility and ability to take direction and accommodate feedback from diverse stakeholders
• ability to work both individually and in a (virtual) team environment
• leadership skills
• ability to meet deadlines and produce work of a consistently high standard.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions specific criteria:

Please note there are strict eligibility requirements that apply to all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Researchers and cannot be dispensed with:
• the candidate must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment under the project (short stays such as holidays are not counted)
• at the time of recruitment, the candidate must not have been awarded a doctorate degree and must be in the first 4 years of his/her research career
• the candidate must work exclusively for the project during the employment contract
• the candidate must fulfil the conditions to be admitted in the PhD programme indicated in the Job Vacancy.

Researchers can be of any nationality. They are required to undertake transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. Nationality is therefore not a criterion. Rather the location of the researcher's residence or main activity during the 3 years prior to their recruitment is determining.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 18 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
- a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year, up to € 2,835 gross per month in the last year for a fulltime position. In accordance with Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA), the gross salary will be balanced with allowances to an average amount of EUR 42,399.96 per year. Note that this rate includes the employer's costs i.e. national insurance contribution and government bonus. Family Allowance (where applicable at the time of recruitment) is EUR 6,000 per year per researcher (all amounts stated are before taxation)
- a position for three years (36 months) at full time employment. Each successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of 18 months with the option of renewal for another 18 months. Prolongation of the appointment is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the appointment period is to be expected.

The starting date is 1 February 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter

Job Application

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:

• motivation letter (500 words)
• curriculum vitae including a list of publication and the names and contact information of 2 references
• copies of academic certificates and transcripts
• a brief research proposal addressing the topic of the research project (500-1000 words)
• English proficiency results if applicable.

You can submit your application until 1 December 11:59pm / before 2 December 2019 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Shortlisted applicants will be notified by 9 December 2019. Interviews are planned on 17 and 18 December 2019.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Jeanne Pia Mifsud Bonnici

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219569

Extra informatie kan worden verkregen via een van de volgende links:

KnowGraphs project STeP Research group

Digital application form