Postdoctoral Research Associate (Civic Software - Hewlett)

Job description

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




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Job No:
Posted: 11/5/2020
Application Due: 11/4/2021
Work Type: Full Time