PhD positions Statistical methods for psychological test norming (2.0 FTE)

Department

Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences

Organisation

University of Groningen

Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36.000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is an international place of knowledge.

The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is a centre of knowledge focusing on individuals and society. The faculty studies issues relating to human behaviour, and the relationships between people and society. This includes the study of how people function under normal circumstances, of the problems encountered by individuals or groups, and how these can be resolved or prevented. The Department of Psychology is part of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, and offers Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in both Dutch and English to over 3.000 students, including the international Master programme Environmental Psychology (https://www.rug.nl/masters/environmental-psychology/).

Job description

The PhD candidates will work in the research group Psychometrics and Statistics within the psychology department. Research within our group focuses on a range of topics, including the evaluation and improvement of existing and new techniques of statistical analysis, interpretation and replicability of research results, and the evaluation and use of psychological tests. Our research has the explicit goal of contributing to the development of both theory and practice. We will work together with scientists from various disciplines within and outside the University of Groningen.

Project
The two PhD positions are part of the research project What is normal?, financed by NWO. Psychological tests, as intelligence tests, are widely used in practice, like for diagnosis and selection. Test administrations are interpreted using test norms. Currently, norms are less accurate than possible, creating norms requires more effort than necessary, and end users have more difficulties in interpreting norms than needed. This project aims to solve these issues, and develop advanced continuous norming methods that make (1) scoring tests, (2) designing a normative study, and (3) interpreting test results more precise and simpler than is possible now. In the long-term, this makes the development, maintenance and use of high-quality psychological tests easier and cheaper, which will greatly benefit test practice.

The two PhD projects are devoted to (1) optimal scoring tests, and (2) optimal design of a normative study.

PhD project 1 on scoring tests will entail the development of two item response theory-based norming methods and a multivariate norming method. PhD project 2 on the statistical design of a normative study will entail the development of methods for optimal design and sequential sampling. Within each project, the methods that are developed will be evaluated on the basis of simulated data and (already available) empirical norming data sets of published psychological tests. The use of the methods will be accommodated by including the methods in an R package. Each PhD candidate will publish the results of their studies in international scientific statistical journals and present them at international conferences.

Both PhD candidates will be supervised by and collaborate with the supervisory team, consisting of Prof. Marieke Timmerman, Prof. Casper Albers and Dr Anja Ernst. During the project, we will further collaborate with our external advisors, both distinguished statistical experts and renowned experts on test use and test development, from different fields.

In summary, the tasks are:

• conduct research that results in a dissertation and is in line with the objectives and requirements of the project
• publish the results of the research in international scientific journals
• present the research to a wide audience of (international) fellow scientists as well as practical partners
• collaborate with fellow scientists, including the supervisory team and the other PhD candidate on the project
• provide educational activities such as small-scale tutorials and guest lectures, in collaboration with the supervisors.

Requirements

We are looking for two PhD candidates who are highly motivated to work on this project, and are particularly interested in conducting theory-based statistical research with a high societal relevance. You have a creative, critical and independent research attitude. You will complete in the near future or have recently completed a (Research) Master in Statistics or Applied Mathematics with affinity for psychological research, or a (Research) Master in the Social Sciences with a considerable statistical and methodological component. You have experience with advanced data analysis and with R or another programming language. You have good English communication and writing skills.

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 48 months.

We offer you, following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year of the appointment, rising to € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth year for a full-time position
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income and an 8.3% year-end bonus
• a pension scheme and excellent secondary terms of employment
• a temporary position of 1.0 FTE for a period of four years. You will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. After a positive evaluation, the contract will be extended for the remaining period.

Intended starting date: 1 January 2023

Job Application

Your application should include:

- your motivation
- curriculum vitae, individual grade sheets, and contact information of at least two academic references.
You may apply for this position until 11 October 11:59pm / before 12 October 2022 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Interviews will be held on October 25, 27 and 28.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: https://www.rug.nl/[…]/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): https://www.nvp-hrnetwerk.nl/sollicitatiecode/ and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/charter/code

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Prof. Marieke Timmerman (for information and/or a detailed summary of the research proposal)
+31 50 3636255
m.e.timmerman@rug.nl

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 222587-88

Digital application form