Job Market

(22/11/2020) Contrat doctoral – 4 ans: Network for Training on Hate – Université d’Anvers

PhD Positions for Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN Early Stage Researcher (ESR) at the ‘Network for Training on Hate’ (NETHATE) to be funded by the Horizon 2020 Programme.

Project Title:  Countering online hate-speech through technological interventions

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for full-time, three-year (or four year depending on position) fixed term positions as Early Stage Researchers (ESR) with members of the NETHATE Consortium. NETHATE is an international research and training project, that is funded by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the European Commission. The ESR positions are PhD positions that will be available from 1st March 2021 to contract end date.

Scope of the NETHATE programme

The vision for NETHATE is to examine the dynamics of the spread of hatred in society, including online fora, as well as mitigation and reconciliation strategies, and the impact on victims and bystanders.

The research and training programme will deliver doctoral training of Europe’s next generation of researchers, teachers and practitioners in understanding the roots and impacts of hate, as well as mitigation strategies, which will support the development of a sustainable democratic culture across the EU. The participation of 10 universities and 1 NGO as the network Beneficiaries and 14 Partner organisations (2 Ministries, 2 companies and 10 NGO’s) all deeply involved in this area will ensure that the ESRs acquire a broad and deep multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral training and experience that will make them highly marketable and sought after graduates.

The overall mission of the NETHATE programme is to investigate the impact of hate in our societies by furthering our understanding about the (a) the nature of hate, (b) the dynamics of its spread in both offline and online fora, (c) the impact on victims, and (d) mitigation and reconciliation strategies. As a cross-cutting element, the issues of gender (and sex) will be addressed across the range of questions in NETHATE. Each PhD project within NETHATE will provide a piece in this jigsaw.

A Unique Opportunity

NETHATE provides a unique opportunity to pursue a fully funded PhD project within a structured supervised programme, which promotes theoretical, methodological and practical experience. Most exciting about the programme is that while each PhD project has its own identity, the programme provides frequent opportunities to exchange with fellow PhDs within the programme. The benefits from being thus embedded within a multidisciplinary context will be that international networking will develop during PhD study, and future connections will be created for publication and future research. With all PhDs running simultaneously a sense of shared enthusiasm will benefit each person.

All ESRs will spend time not only at the hosting institution but also in one of the other partner universities/research centres/regulatory agencies/companies involved in NETHATE.

The ESRs will be registered in either a three-year or four-year PhD programme, dependent upon the University in which he/she will be registered. Each ESR position description includes the length of time to complete the PhD programme. The ITN programme is three years long and in the case of four year PhD programmes, funding for the fourth year is provided by local funding (please speak with supervisor of PhD). 

Employment Conditions

The selected candidates are employed with a full time contract. The salary follows the Marie Curie-Skłodowska ITN funding scheme. Each researcher is hired under an employment contract and benefits from a monthly living allowance, social security cover, plus a mobility and family allowance (must meet eligibility requirements). Researchers may be of any nationality.

A career development plan will be prepared for each fellow in accordance with his/her supervisor and will include training, planned secondments and outreach activities in partner laboratories of the network. The ESR fellows are supposed to complete their PhD thesis by the end of their employment.

Candidates will be required to meet the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria: and the entry requirements for the PhD programme at the host institution where the ESR is based.

Candidates must have had less than four years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD.

Please note that there are residency requirements for each ESR position, you must not have resided in the country where the ESR position is located more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the appointment. The researcher must undertake transnational mobility.

In regards researchers with refugee status, time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status (under the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Protocol) are not taken into account (for mobility rules). It should be noted, however, that any time spent in the country of the beneficiary after refugee status has been obtained is then counted when determining eligibility.

Researchers at risk are especially encouraged to apply. ‘Researchers at risk’, under the current MSCA work programme refers to “researchers who are either at risk in their origin countries (due to discrimination, persecution, suffering and/or violence), or are seeking refuge out of these reasons or have recently found refuge in Europe”. 

ESRs Key Responsibilities

  • To manage and carry out the research projects within 36 months.
  • To write a PhD dissertation.
  • To participate in research and training activities within the NETHATE network.
  • Develop a Personal Career Development Plan outlining training and support needs, and update this regularly based on training completed.
  • To write peer-reviewed articles for specialized journals.
  • To participate in meetings of different NETHATE consortium bodies.
  • To disseminate the research in the academic/university/research community (national and international conferences) and non-academic/university community, by outreach and public engagement.
  • To liaise with the other research staff and students working in broad areas of relevance to the research project and partner institutions.
  • To write progress reports and prepare results for publication and dissemination via journals, presentations, web and social media.
  • To attend progress and management meetings as required and network with the other research groups.

ESRs Benefits

  • Prestigious EU fellowship.
  • Highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions.
  • Excellent training programme.
  • Develop multidisciplinary research skills.
  • Be part of a team of leading researchers and teachers in different fields of academia.
  • Establish a professional network in industry and academia.
  • Visits and secondments to other project partners within industry and academia for up to 6 months of your appointment period.

Project Title:  Countering online hate-speech through technological interventions

Supervisors: Prof. Heidi Vandebosch, Prof. Karolien Poels, Prof. Sara Pabian

Enrolment in Doctoral Degree:  University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium (Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences: Communication Studies)

Time to complete Doctoral Degree:  4 years


Development and testing of prototypes of technological interventions to prevent or counter online hate speech based on current and newly acquired knowledge on motivations and contexts of online hate speech.Development of insights on user acceptance, user experience and efficacy of the (prototype) technological tools to prevent or counter online hate by means of a range of lab and field studies.Human Rights Analysis of the (prototype) technological tools.

Planned Secondment(s): 1. Google (Dublin, Ireland), 1 month, exploration of existing and (potential) future technological tools to prevent or counter hateful web content;  2. Textgain (Antwerp, Belgium), 1 month, exploration of existing and (potential) future technological tools to prevent or counter user-generated hate speech on Social Media by using automatic text detection 3. Leiden University (The Netherlands), 1 month, Human Rights Analysis of selected technological tools.

Essential Requirements & Skills:

  • Academic Master in Social Sciences (i.e. Communication Sciences, Sociology), Psychology, Design Sciences, or a related discipline (that focuses on technology and human behavior).
  • Knowledge of, and affinity with quantitative and qualitative behavioral science methods (e.g. experiments, surveys, focus groups, …)
  • Must not have resided in Belgium for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the appointment.
  • Is in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of research career and has not been awarded a doctoral degree.
  • Excellent communications skills in English both written and verbal. Knowledge of Dutch is considered an advantage.
  • Evidence of ability to work independently and collaboratively within an internationally diverse team.
  • Evidence of conducting academic legal research and very good academic writing skills.
  • Evidence of excellent organisation skills and ability to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work highly efficiently and meet competing priorities
  • Highly motivated, with excellent organisation skills and with strong attention to detail and quality.
  • Willing to travel to attend secondments, training and academic events.
  • Willing to work interdisciplinary, and eager to apply insights from other fields (e.g. computational linguistics, law, …)

 Desirable Requirements & Skills: 

  • Evidence of affinity with and knowledge of digital technologies and human technology interaction (in particular: interface design, technological “affordances”, …and how these affect human behavior)
  • At least one academic publication (besides the master thesis), preferably in the area human behavior and digital technologies.

Further information:

Informal queries may be made in regards to this ESR post – contact either Prof Heidi Vandebosch at, or Prof Karolien Poels at, or Prof Sara Pabian at

Start date

Position is available from 1st March 2021. Start dates may vary according to the respective university’s academic schedule.

Type of Contract

Temporary – full time, 36 or 48 months (length dependent on ESR position)

How to Apply

Deadline for application is 22 November 2020 at 23:00 CET (Brussels time).

We reserve the right to re-advertise or extend the closing date for the positions (or a sub-set of the positions).

All positions are recruited in line with open, transparent, merit (OTM) and competency based recruitment.


Applications should include the following documents:

  • A one-page letter motivating a) why you want to be part of NETHATE; b) which ESR position you are applying to, c) why are you applying for this specific position; d) why do you consider yourself a suitable candidate for this position;
  • A list of three achievements in your life that you are proud of;  
  • A detailed CV listing education, work experience, publications, and relevant other activities;
  • Names and contact information (address, email, phone) of between two to four referees; 
  • An academic transcript of B.Sc. and M.Sc. education;
  • A copy of academic works such as papers or M.Sc. thesis (if available); 
  • Demonstrated English proficiency

Please submit application materials to