Postdoc position | Alberto Acerbi

Postdoc position


I am advertising a two-year postdoc position in the Department of Sociology and Social Research in Trento, possibly starting from December 2023, broadly on analysis of social media data from a cultural evolution perspective. The application deadline is the 15th of November (12am Italian time); candidates can apply here. I tried to put together a “light” application: beside the mandatory CV and list of publication, the candidates need to submit only a page where they explain if and how they meet the desirable qualifications (see below). All the detailed information are at the link above.

The postdoc will work in a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation on “Changing the perspective on social media interventions: improving engagement with true news”. The basic idea, explored at length in this paper with Sacha Altay and Hugo Mercier, is that, to improve the social media informational ecosystem, we should focus on increasing the engagement with true news, rather than fighting the diffusion of misinformation. More in details, the project identified four features of content that increase engagement with information: negative content, emotional content in general, threat-related information, and out-group detraction. We will collect a large dataset of social media messages related to news from outlets of different political orientations and examine if these features of content will predict engagement with true/reliable news, and what kind of engagement, by including in the analysis also reactions and comments. Given the recent mess with social media (thank you Elon), we will be relatively free about which data exactly to collect, and possibly to modify various aspects of the research questions, as long as they fit with the basic idea. (Optimistically, it could be an interesting time to analyse the consequences of the changing social media informational landscape.)

The essential requisites are a PhD in any related discipline (social and psychological sciences, data/computer sciences, etc.) and good programming experience with the R language. Experience with collection and analysis of data from social media, NLP (text mining, sentiment analysis, etc.), open science (e.g. preregistration, managing open data repositories), collaborative programming tools (e.g. GitHub), and statistical modelling are desirable.

I am completely open to remote work - as I did myself several postdocs, I know it can be annoying to relocate for a non-permanent contract and I have/had myself several long-distance collaborations - but, if one has the possibility, living in Trento could be a plus. Trento is a beautiful town in the Dolomites and it is consistently at the top ranks for quality of life in Italy (as I now live here, I can confirm). The Department of Sociology and Social Research is very research-active, and the postdoc will participate in the activities of the C2S2 - Centre for Computational Social Science and Human Dynamics.

The salary is in the top tier of Italian postdoc (gross 38,900 Euros/year) and the grant include research and travel money.

Here again the link to apply, and if you are interested or have any question feel free to get in contact with me!

Alberto Acerbi

Cultural Evolution / Cognitive Anthropology / Individual-based modelling / Computational Social Science / Digital Media


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