Vacancy for PhD student on Argumentation Mining

Posted by Els Lefever on May 29, 2023

Fully funded PhD in Computational Linguistics

  • Apply until 29-08-2023
  • LT3 Language and Translation Technology Team, Faculteit Letteren & Wijsbegeerte
  • Master’s diploma in linguistics, literature, computational linguistics, computer science or equivalent

Applications are invited to apply for a PhD candidate position to perform research in the field of computational linguistics at the LT3 - Language and Translation Technology Team at the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication at Ghent University. LT3 conducts fundamental and applied research in the domain of language and translation technology and has extensive expertise in the use of machine learning for a wide range of language technology problems, terminology extraction, word sense disambiguation, sentiment and emotion detection and irony detection.

You will perform PhD research within the framework of an FWO project on argumentation mining of political social media text.
Since the rise of social networks, daily exposure to fellow users’ opinions and comments has become a constant in many people’s lives. In order to automatically detect the reasoning underlying users’ opinions on political issues of public interest, this project aims to research a new methodology for argumentation mining of social media data in Dutch and English. The PhD student will research a novel framework and methodology to automatically extract topics, stance and argument structures from (political) social media data. A varied social media corpus will be collected and annotated. The insights gained from a pilot annotation study for Dutch will form the basis of a machine learning approach to automatically extract topics, stance and argumentative components and relations from our corpus. The results of this research will push the state-of-the-art in natural language understanding and help communication scientists and social scientists to formulate new hypotheses regarding the evolution of digital politics.
The candidate will perform academic research in preparation of a doctoral dissertation. You will be enrolled in the doctoral training program of Ghent University. The PhD student will have the opportunity to attend international conferences and to spend a research stay abroad in other research labs.

Job profile

Given these tasks, we are searching for a candidate with a background in computational linguistics.

You hold a Master’s diploma or certificate that is recognized as equivalent (Article V.20 Codex Higher Education) in linguistics, literature, computational linguistics, computer science or equivalent.

  • You have a good knowledge of Dutch.
  • Background or strong interest in Natural Language Processing.
  • Knowledge of Python (or another programming language).
  • You have good oral and written communication skills in English.
  • You take initiative in searching for new research ideas and are not afraid to be critical about your own work.
  • You are a highly motivated, hardworking, flexible, able to face complex issues and you have an appropriate problem-solving attitude.
  • You are able to take on responsibilities, work independently but also as part of an interdisciplinary research team.

Conditions of employment

This position after approximately four years of successful research results in a PhD title in Linguistics. We offer a position for 4 years with yearly evaluations, in an exciting research environment, working on the intersection between language and computer science in the multi-disciplinary research environment of the Faculty Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University.
The exact start date of the position is negotiable, preferably as soon as possible. Candidates that will graduate soon (before 01/10/2023) are also encouraged to apply.

How to apply

To apply please send your full application before 29 August 2023 to Prof Dr. Els Lefever –, which includes the following documents as pdfs and with appropriate file names (i.e. FAMILYNAME_FILETYPE):

  • Your application letter in English (max. two pages) that indicates why you wish to pursue a PhD? And why in computational linguistics on the topic of argumentation mining on political social media text? What is your -if any- prior experience with NLP?;
  • Your curriculum vitae, including two referees;
  • A copy of your Master’s thesis;
  • A copy of your Master’s diploma.

After an initial screening, interviews will take place (online if needed) between 4-15 September 2023.

For more information about this vacancy contact:
Els Lefever, Associate Professor of language technology at the LT3 research Team at Ghent University, Ghent,