Postdoc Social Media and Public Debate (1.0 FTE)


Faculty of Arts


University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 36,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study- and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: It belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Faculty of Arts is a large, dynamic faculty in the heart of the city of Groningen. It has more than 5000 students and 700 staff members, who are working at the frontiers of knowledge every day. The Faculty offers a wide range of degree programmes: 15 Bachelor's programmes and over 35 Master's specialisations. Our research, which is internationally widely acclaimed, covers Media and Journalism Studies, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, History, International Relations, Language and Literary Studies, and Linguistics.

Research is conducted within the interdisciplinary Centre for Media and Journalism Studies, which has been rated as “excellent/world-leading” in the most recent Research Assessment. If appointed, the candidates are expected to actively contribute to the vibrant research environment in the Centre. They are provided ample support in applying for bids with national and international funding agencies. The candidate will teach in the BA programme in Media Studies and/or the MA programme Social Media and Society. Our BA and MA programmes rank first among all Media Studies programmes in The Netherlands in the national student survey.

Job description

Are you interested in doing cutting-edge research on public debates as well as related issues of misinformation, polarization, and radicalization on Twitter? Do you want to contribute to developing an infrastructure that enables SSH researchers to systematically examine current and emerging public debates on crucial societal issues in The Netherlands?

We are looking for a Postdoctoral researcher for TwiXL. This interdisciplinary project ( aims to develop an infrastructure that enables students and researchers in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) to systematically examine current and emerging public debates on crucial societal issues in the Netherlands. The project is funded by the Platform Digital Infrastructure of the Dutch SSH-council and developed in a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Groningen (RUG), SURFsara, National Library of the Netherlands (KB), and Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV).

Public debate and information exchange, as well as related problems of misinformation, polarization, and radicalization, are increasingly articulated online through social media platforms. This affects the media landscape as a whole: social media activity largely takes shape in response to mass media reporting, which, in turn, is progressively affected by online discourse. Hence, for a healthy democratic system, it is vital that researchers and public institutions are able to monitor the evolving dynamics of mediated public debate. Currently, however, researchers do not have access to comprehensive sets of social media data and readily searchable collections of mass media reporting, nor do they have effective tools for cross-media research at their disposal. TwiXL will facilitate such research, aligning with the first VSNU Digital Society Programme Line ‘Citizenship & Democracy’.

As a postdoc in this project, you will contribute to building the TwiXL infrastructure in close collaboration with a PhD student at UvA and developers from SURFSara, KB and NISV. This infrastructure will enable cross-media research through customized Jupyter notebooks. You will develop a proof-of-concept research project on public debates and related issues of misinformation, polarization, and radicalization on Twitter. Using the TwiNL collection, you will systematically explore the Dutch Twitter sphere on a topic of your choice. Through this research, you will also produce infrastructural requirements and demonstration scenarios and tutorials for other SSH researchers as well as academic publications of the results.

Your research appointment will be 80% while 20% of your time will be devoted to teaching in the MA programme Social Media and Society and/or the BA programme in Media Studies.

Tasks and responsibilities:

• develop and conduct a research project on public debates in the Dutch Twitter sphere, using Jupyter notebooks to create proof of concept of this approach
• presenting intermediate research results at workshops and conferences, and publishing academic articles
• help develop customized Juypter notebooks enabling cross-media research
• collaborate with tool developers in building the TwiXL infrastructure by providing requirements and testing specific components
• organize workshops, teaching SSH researchers and students to do cross-media research using Jupyter notebooks
• participating in meetings of the project research group and assisting the project coordinator in communication tasks (co-managing social media account and website, writing blog posts)
• teaching courses in the BA programme in Media Studies and/or MA programme Social Media and Society (20% of your appointment).


• a PhD in Media Studies or Communication Science, or in another discipline in the humanities or social sciences relevant to this project. The degree must have been obtained by the time the position starts
• excellent research skills demonstrated by a track record of publishing in high-ranked journals or a demonstrable capacity to develop such a record
• excellent command of English, and preferably also Dutch
• preferably programming experience with Python and/or R, and with developing and using Jupyter notebooks for research and/or teaching
• a strong cooperative attitude and willingness to engage in collaborative research
• enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 12 months.

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary, depending on qualifications and work experience, in scale 10 or scale 11 in the first year, depending on experience and qualifications for a full-time position
• on top of that income, you will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an annual bonus of 8.3%
• you will initially be appointed for a period of 1 year with the prospect of extending the contract with another two years after positive evaluation.

For more detailed information about working conditions and working for the University of Groningen, please check:

Intended starting date: 1 January 2022

Job Application

You may apply for these positions until 8 November 11.59 pm / before 9 November Dutch local time by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications should include:

1. Letter of application
2. A short research statement of 300-500 words, stating your ideas on how to study public debates on social media in the context of the TwiXL infrastructure
3. A curriculum vitae including publications and other research output clearly showing your expertise in relevant areas, and experience in teaching
4. Two publications you are particularly proud of
5. The names of two academic referees.

Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into consideration.

We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity. We have adopted an active policy to increase the number of female scientists across all disciplines of the university. Therefore, women 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. Marcel Broersma, Director Centre for Media and Journalism Studies
+31 50 3635955

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 221604

Digital application form