Social Network Analysis researcher for the ERC-funded Dissident Networks Project

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University announces an open competition for: Full-time research fellowship for a social scientist (expert in Social Network Analysis) in an ERC-funded research project in computational history and social science Department: Centre for the Digital Research of Religion, Department for the Study of Religions, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University Position: researcher Work time: 100% Number of open positions: 1 Expected start: 1 September 2021 (negotiable) Duration: 31 August 2022 (first contract), 31 August 2026 (very probable extension based on performance review) Deadline for applications: 17 May 2021 23:59 CET (UTC+1) The Dissident Networks Project (DISSINET,, principal investigator Dr. David Zbíral) - an ERC Consolidator Grant-funded research initiative based at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic) - offers a full-time research fellowship for a social scientist with focus on social network analysis (SNA). The successful applicant will participate in frontier research concerning the micro-social patterns of religious non-conformism and inquisitorial trials in medieval Europe: the involvement of individuals and social groups in the covert networks of religious dissent; their material, spiritual, and information economies; the patterns of denunciation and inquisitorial action; and the embeddedness of broader social phenomena (esp. religion, religious specialists, assistance) in local interactions. DISSINET studies the social, spatial, and discursive patterns of medieval dissidence and inquisition. Historians in the team transform medieval sources into rich structured data on human interactions in dissident religious cultures of the past, on inquisitorial trials, and on inquisitorial records. This data, with networks ranging usually from ca. 30 to 1,000 persons, represent a rich source of information on pre-modern social interactions and allow us to test specific hypotheses derived from both social scientific and historical research (esp. through ERGM, ALAAM, and to a lesser degree models for temporal data), and theorize pre-modern social networks as well as the functioning of religion in Europe in the 13th to 16th centuries. The successful candidate will develop their own research direction in consultation with the principal investigator and bring strong social scientific competence, creativity, skills in quantitative analysis, and theoretical thinking to the team. They will also help to build systematic connections between DISSINET’s research agenda and its most promising areas of impact in social scientific research (e.g., covert networks; socio-semantic networks; religion and networks; material, spiritual, and information economies in pre-modern European societies; the role of rituals and beliefs in social networks; networks of inculpation/denunciation; etc.). DISSINET at large focuses on various computational approaches to medieval Christian dissent and inquisition, also including geospatial data analysis and natural language processing. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to produce mixed-methodology work in this collaborative context. The ERC-funded position thus represents a unique opportunity to build a truly cutting-edge research profile. The position is residential (although with reasonable flexibility for the duration of the pandemic). Brno is a very pleasant university city ca. 2 hours by direct train connection from Vienna and Prague, and offers all the opportunities of a modern metropolis. Requirements:
  • M.A., MSc. or Ph.D. degree in a social scientific field.
  • Strong background and competence in social network analysis (incl. statistical models for social networks).
  • Interdisciplinary creativity.
  • Interest in historical social and socio-semantic networks.
  • Interest in both social scientific theory and empirical network research.
  • Experience in data transformation (e.g. in R or Python).
  • Competence in academic writing.
  • English language (C1 or higher).
Other qualifications of interest to the project:
  • Ph.D. degree or Ph.D. studies approaching completion.
  • Data visualization beyond network representations.
  • Experience of presenting research online (static or interactive visual material, data).
  • Socio-semantic network analysis.
  • Experience of working in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Knowledge of version control (e.g., GitHub, GitLab).
  • Acquaintance with graph databases and query languages.
We do not expect candidates to possess all of these “other qualifications of interest”, and recognise there may be other qualifications beyond this list that could enhance DISSINET’s research profile. We offer:
  • Freedom to pursue your intellectual interests and to work creatively across disciplines in an exciting frontier-research project.
  • Growth in interdisciplinary research.
  • Competitive salary commensurate with an ERC-funded project.
  • Individual research budget for participating in conferences and workshops, choosing books and software to be purchased, etc. (ca. 4,000 € each year).
  • Participation in writing high-profile publications in SNA, computational social science, history, historical GIS, and the digital humanities.
  • Friendly and informal working environment.
  • Leading a crucial research strand within DISSINET.
  • Analyzing and visualizing network data.
  • Co-authoring articles (incl. as lead author).
  • Participating in the team’s discussions, meetings, tutorials, and other activities.
  • Contributing to the project’s visibility (papers at conferences, publications, online outcomes, social media, etc.).
  • Reading and summarizing literature, contributing to the project’s annotated bibliography.
  • Organizational and administrative responsibilities related to the project.
Attachments to the application:
  • Letter of motivation (in English). Within your description of what you will bring to the project, please provide a short description of how you would approach the SNA aspect of DISSINET based on your reading of this call and the DISSINET website.
  • Two letters of recommendation from scholars in a relevant field (candidates may either submit their referees’ letter themselves or, if preferable, ask their referees to send them to the PI confidentially).
  • Structured CV (in English) with an overview of competences, language skills, research experience, and a list of publications (incl. submitted).
  • Up to two examples of academic texts (co-)authored by the applicant (if co-authored, with a description of the candidate’s contribution).
  • Scanned proofs of the university degrees.
  • Optionally (for Ph.D. candidates approaching the completion of studies) written proof of thesis submission or progress in studies.
The first round of the selection procedure will be based on the submitted attachments. In the next phase, the short-listed applicants will discuss with the PI their possible focus within the larger DISSINET project, provide their take on the SNA aspects of the DISSINET research agenda (in writing, 1,000 to 2,000 words; the shortlisted candidates will receive further details), and participate in an interview with the selection committee, presided over by the PI, via videoconference. The candidate’s degree does not need to be recent for this position. Career breaks do not pose any problem: we are very open to those seeking to return to academia, provided their skills and interests are suited to the role. Applications from female candidates are particularly encouraged. How to apply...? Application with all required documents should be sent by e-application available: Electronic application deadline is: May 17, 2021.