Research fellow (computational linguistics / corpora / NLP) for the Dissident Networks Project

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University announces an open competition for:

Full-time research fellowship for a computational linguist, quantitative text analyst or NLP specialist in an ERC-funded digital research project on medieval heresy and inquisition

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 November 2021 (negotiable)
Duration: 31 October 2022 (first contract), 31 August 2026 (very probable extension based on performance review)
Deadline for applications: 20 September 2021 23:59 CET (UTC+1)

The Dissident Networks Project (DISSINET, https://dissinet.cz/) - an ERC Consolidator Grant-funded research initiative based at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic) - offers a full-time research fellowship in computational text analysis. The research of the successful applicant will focus on the discursive patterns in medieval inquisitorial records, with the aim of shining a new light on the production of these texts, their discourses, and the religious cultures they describe.

We are searching for a research fellow with one of the following types of profile:

(a) digital humanist, with competence in one or more historical languages and some experience in programming; or

(b) computational linguist, NLP specialist or text mining specialist, with interest in history or historical languages;

(c) another kind of mixed/interdisciplinary profile, with some of the previously mentioned competencies and strong interest in working on a historical research project.

The successful candidate will develop their own research direction in consultation with the Principal Investigator (Dr. David Zbíral), focusing on the computational text processing and analysis of medieval inquisition records.

DISSINET also works extensively on the manual coding of medieval inquisitorial material, offering a significant close-reading layer of data. We focus on various computational approaches to Christian dissent and inquisition, also including social network analysis, socio-semantic network analysis, and geographic information science: 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 for building a truly cutting-edge research profile.

The position is residential (although with reasonable flexibility for pandemic-related travel restrictions). 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 relevant field
  • Strong interest in historical research and the project’s topic
  • Experience in computational research of textual corpora
  • Ability to learn new techniques and adapt existing ones (e.g., customize available tools to the Latin of inquisitorial sources)
  • Programming skills (Python or R)
  • Digital text representation and annotation standards (esp. TEI/XML)
  • Competence in academic writing
  • English language (C1 or higher)
  • Autonomy, reliability, and ability to work in close team collaboration

Other competencies of interest to the project:

  • Historical languages (Latin, Middle English...)
  • Distributional semantics, stylometry
  • Experience with repositories of digital texts
  • Data standards and interoperability (e.g., RDF, linked data)
  • Version control (e.g., GitHub, GitLab...)
  • We do not expect candidates to possess all of these “other competencies of interest”, and recognise there may be other skills 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 (ca. 4,000 € each year) in addition to regular salary
  • Participation in writing high-profile publications in digital humanities, computational social science, network analysis, and history
  • Friendly and informal working environment

Responsibilities:

  • Building a key research strand within DISSINET with a focus on the discursive patterns in medieval inquisitorial records
  • Leading the constitution of a corpus of medieval inquisitorial records
  • Supervising research assistants helping with the mark-up of OCR-ed texts
  • 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 excerpting literature
  • Organizational and administrative responsibilities related to the project

Attachments to the application:

  • Letter of motivation (in English).
  • Two letters of recommendation from established 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, previous research experience, and a list of publications (incl. submitted).
  • Two commented examples of code (co-)authored by the applicant (if co-authored, with a description of the candidate’s contribution).
  • 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 candidate’s degree does not need to be recent for this position. We are open to those seeking to return to academia or to change their focus within it. Applications from female candidates are particularly encouraged.

How to apply...?

Application with all required documents should be sent by e-application available here: https://www.phil.muni.cz/o-nas/volna-mista/64897

Electronic application deadline is: September 20, 2021.