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Postdoctoral Research Associate (Civic Software - Hewlett)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC
Closing date
Jul 8, 2021

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Job Details

Position Title:

Postdoctoral Research Associate (Civic Software - Hewlett)

Vacancy ID:



Sch of Inform and Libr Science - 370101

Position Type:

Postdoctoral Scholar

Salary Range:



Full Time



Proposed Start Date:


Estimated Duration of Appointment:

12 Months

Posting Open Date:


Posting Close Date:


Open Until Filled:


Work Location:

Chapel Hill, NC

Position Summary:

The School of Information and Library Science (SILS) seeks to advance the profession and practice of librarianship and information science; to prepare students for careers in the field of information and library science, and to make significant contributions to the study of information. Faculty members further these goals by teaching and advisory work; by research and scholarly publishing; and by service to the School, university, state, and professional community.

The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) is an initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dedicated to researching, understanding, and responding to the growing impact of the internet, social media, and other forms of digital information sharing. CITAP’s goals are: to tackle broad research questions with real-world implications for information gathering, social media regulation, democratic governance, journalism, and civic understanding; to develop a comprehensive understanding of information environments that will serve as a baseline for emergent research focused on the interaction of information and technology, particularly in the context of misinformation, partisanship, polarization, propaganda, and political institutions; to make our research and data publicly available to inform technological development, journalistic best practices, and policy making. Investigators for the project include Gary Marchionini and Zeynep Tufecki from the UNC School of Information and Library Science, Deen Freelon and Daniel Kreiss of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and Alice Marwick from the Department of Communication.

The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is seeking a postdoctoral researcher to start as early as January 2021, or upon the selected candidate’s completion of degree requirements. The position will run for up to three years with opportunity to renewal. This posting will remain open until a candidate is selected.

CITAP is broadly focused on the intersection of misinformation, partisanship, polarization, propaganda, political institutions, and journalism. One of its major long-term initiatives, supervised by Dr. Deen Freelon, will focus on what we are calling “civic software”. This initiative’s goal will be to produce and analyze the output of software that fulfills two tasks:

1.Helps citizens understand the civic and political implications of their information environments and empowers them to defend against the most harmful aspects therein (such as mis- and disinformation); and
2.Generates rigorous, open datasets of relevance to disciplines such as communication, political science, and information science.

An example of the kind of software we seek to implement is a next-generation media monitoring tool that will allow researchers to better understand internet users’ content consumption patterns. This tool will generate data that reveals what kinds of content users are consuming, where it comes from, and how it influences their political opinions and actions. All CITAP-branded software will be developed by a full-time programmer who is currently in the process of being hired.

The postdoctoral researcher will assist the programmer in conceptualizing, testing, and evaluating (and possibly developing, depending on the successful candidate’s skill set) civic software for both research and public audiences. They will design, execute, and write up research studies based on the data the different software packages produce. They will also take a lead role in designing and maintaining our open data and open-source policies and procedures.

The successful applicant will join a vibrant research community anchored by CITAP’s four principal researchers—Deen Freelon (Hussman School of Journalism and Media), Daniel Kreiss (Hussman), Alice Marwick (Dept. of Communication), and Zeynep Tufekci (School of Information and Library Sciences)—along with senior researchers Tressie McMillan Cottom, Shannon McGregor, Francesca Tripodi, and over a dozen grad student, postdoctoral, and faculty affiliates. CITAP affiliates will meet regularly for research updates and internal presentations, as well as present their work at domestic and international conferences. This position features a complete benefits package including health, vision, and dental insurance.

Educational Requirements:

Applicants are required to hold a PhD in communication, political science, information science, sociology, or a related social science field before the appointment may begin.

Qualifications and Experience:

The successful candidate will demonstrate strong quantitative skills and expertise in one or more of the following areas:

•Computational social science (specifically social media data analysis)
•Human-computer interaction (HCI)
•Political communication (specifically the study of mis/disinformation, polarization, and/or hyperpartisan content)
•Survey design and data analysis
•User experience (UX) design

More specifically, we are looking for a scholar who wants to expand the horizons of digital democracy research via new software tools. A promising body of relevant peer-reviewed publications, external funding, and/or digital interface designs is strongly preferred.

Equal Opportunity Employer:

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.

Special Instructions:

For information on UNC Postdoctoral Benefits and Services click here


The nation’s first public university is at the heart of what’s next, preparing a diverse student body to become creators, explorers, innovators and leaders in North Carolina and throughout the world. Carolina’s nationally recognized, innovative teaching, campus-wide spirit of inquiry and dedication to public service continue the legacy that began in 1795 when the University first opened its doors to students.

Here, in one of America's most beautiful college settings, we offer exceptional careers in richly diverse fields. Come explore what UNC-Chapel Hill has to offer you.

Undergraduate Enrollment: 19,117

Graduate/Professional Enrollment: 10,894

Total Student Enrollment: 30,011

Founded: 1789, as the first state university in the United States

Type of Institution: Public, four-year

Undergraduate Admission: 15,961

Graduate/Professional Enrollment: 10,039

Total Student Enrollment: 26,000

Faculty: 3,000

Percentage of faculty who hold Ph.D.s or the highest degrees in their field: 94 percent

Faculty/student ratio: 1/14

Location: UNC is located in the heart of Chapel Hill, the best college town in America! It's a friendly town of about 40,000 in the geographical center of North Carolina. Chapel Hill is at the western point of the Research Triangle, an area of about one million people, comprised of Chapel Hill, the cities of Durham and Raleigh, and the Research Triangle Park, home of many corporate offices and scientific research centers. Carolina is about 30 miles from the state capital, Raleigh, and 20 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Chapel Hill's main street, Franklin Street, borders the campus and offers shops, coffee houses, cafés, movie theaters and houses of worship. The town has a historic district, museum, library, parks, malls, and many recreational facilities.

Origins of Carolina's students: 82 percent of UNC's freshmen are from North Carolina and 18 percent are from out-of-state. Our students come from 42 different states and our international students represent 37 countries.

Size of freshman class: Approximately 3,400

Class size: Barely five percent of undergraduate classes contain more than 100 students; two-thirds of undergraduate classes have fewer than 30 students. Forty-one percent have fewer than 20 students, including First Year Seminars, in which first-year students work closely with professors.

Sports and athletic programs: UNC is an NCAA Division I school with 28 varsity teams. Carolina is the proud home of the Dean Smith Center, Kenan Stadium, Carmichael Auditorium, Koury Natatorium, and many other fine athletic facilities. Students join more than 60 intramural and club sports, which include baseball, bowling, crew, golf, lacrosse, rock climbing, rugby, tae kwon do, and ultimate frisbee. The Student Recreation Center offers weight training, aerobics, stair machines, and all the equipment you would expect to find at a great health club! Carolina offers a newly renovated outdoor pool and indoor pools, a golf course, tennis courts, and the longest zipline in America!

Number of residence halls: Incoming undergraduates will live in one of Carolina's 29 residence halls, which are wired for Internet access and cable television.

Scholarships and financial aid: About 40 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill students receive scholarships and/or some form of financial aid.

Special research institutes: Institute for Research in Social Science, Institute of Outdoor Drama, Morehead Planetarium, Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, Institute of Government, Institute of African American Research.

Career services: On-campus counseling, job fairs, résumé writing service, internships, placement services.

Technological facilities: Students find multiple uses for Carolina's state-of-the-art technological resources. They can access Carolina's computer services through Academic Technology and Networks, which manages academic computing, e-mail, microcomputing labs, interactive media presentation, video and classroom support, and a help desk. The MetaLab oversees the development of SunSITE, one of the world's busiest digital library and electronic publishing projects.

Students may open e-mail accounts, and many use campus computer resources to construct personal Web pages. Students in residence halls have hardwired network connections to the Internet and cable television in their rooms. At the ATN Training center, students may take classes on software packages and utilities. Computer labs are available for student use all over campus.

Carolina Computing Initiative: Beginning with the freshman class of 2000, undergraduates must purchase laptop computers. The University has arranged for IBM to offer computers at excellent prices. Students, faculty, and staff will enjoy cost savings, higher quality compatible equipment, and better technical support through CCI.

The Study Abroad program allows students to live and learn in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim, Africa, and the Americas.

The Honors Program offers special seminars, research programs, and the chance to design your own independent studies.

Carolina students spend time in public service through student organizations, the Campus Y, the Carolina Center for Public Service, and courses that incorporate community service.

UNC's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a national collegiate honor society, is the oldest in North Carolina, dating from 1904. There are many other honorary societies at Carolina.

UNC offers ROTC programs in all branches of national military service.

Through the First Year Seminars program, first year students will understand what it means to study at a premier research university. They will learn from faculty members and share in their research in seminars of no more than 20 students.

Life outside the classroom: More than 370 clubs, teams, and student organizations offer something for everyone! You can choose from among musical and dramatic performing groups, publications, ethnic and religious clubs, the Campus Y and other service organizations, fraternities and sororities, and pre- professional organizations. Whatever your interests, you will find others at Carolina who share them!

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