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Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)
Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)

Doctoral Research Fellowship in Russian language and linguistics

Deadline: 21.10.2021

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages is involved in extensive research, teaching and outreach in the fields of literature, area studies and linguistics within European languages apart from the Nordic ones. The Department has an active research environment with a wide range of international collaboration. Many of our researchers play a part in giving the general public insight into the results of this research. The Department has about 130 members of staff: approximately 80 in academic posts, approximately 30 Ph.D. fellows and postdoctoral fellows, and 18 in administrative posts. The Department has approximately 300 master students and 1000 bachelor students.

Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages

Job description

A Doctoral Research Fellowship (SKO 1017) in Russian language and linguistics is available at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo. The position is associated with the Researcher Project grant 302573 ”Fakespeak – the language of fake news. Fake news detection based on linguistic cues”, funded by the Research Council of Norway and led by Project Manager Silje Susanne Alvestad, researcher in Slavic languages and linguistics at the University of Oslo.

Fake news, defined as news items that are meant to be deceptive and which the author knows to be false, is not a new phenomenon. However, the rapid development of social media now allows news from sources of varying reputation to be spread unfiltered at lightning speed and to be read by millions of people in a very short period of time. Western liberal democracies are vulnerable, and fake news and other types of disinformation may seriously harm them.

The main objectives of the Fakespeak project, which consists of a core team of linguists and computer scientists, are

i) to identify the language and style of fake news in English, Norwegian and Russian, and

ii) to improve existing fake news detection systems by automating the defining linguistic features of fake news. Industrial collaboration partners of this project are Faktisk.no, Norway’s first and, so far, only fact-checking service; the NRK, Norway’s largest media organization and broadcaster of news from all over the world; and the NTB, the Norwegian News Agency. The goal of the project is to help them and other stakeholders as well as the general public to detect potentially harmful fake news items more efficiently and accurately and in a more timely manner than what is currently possible.

The successful candidate to be hired at the Department will contribute to the project achieving objective i). S/he will harvest datasets mainly in Russian from the Internet, and analyse them statistically and visualize the results applying corpus linguistics methods.

Priority will be given to proposals that fill a gap in the project in terms of topic and/or fake news genre.

The doctoral fellow will be part of a larger multi-disciplinary research network involving linguistics, computer science, and media science.

More about the position

The person appointed will be affiliated with the Faculty's organized research training. The academic work is to result in a doctoral thesis that will be defended at the Faculty with a view to obtaining the degree of PhD. The successful candidate is expected to join the existing research milieu or network and contribute to its development. Read more about the doctoral degree.

The appointment is for a duration of 3 years. All PhD candidates who submit their doctoral dissertation for assessment with a written recommendation from their supervisor within 3 years or 3 ½ years after the start of their PhD position will be offered, respectively, a 12 or 6 month Completion Grant.

Qualification requirements

  • A Master's degree or equivalent in Russian language and linguistics with a focus on corpus linguistics and/or computational linguistics methods. The Master's degree must have been obtained and the final evaluation must be available by the application deadline.
  • Knowledge of corpus linguistics methods, including experience in conducting corpus analyses of potentially fairly large amounts of data and performing statistical analyses and visualization.
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.
  • Experience in automatic data harvesting online is an advantage.
  • Programming skills in Python or R, or both, are an advantage.
  • Personal suitability and motivation for the position.
  • The candidate's research project must contribute directly to acheiving the goals of the Fakespeak project.

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral programmes at the University of Oslo, applicants must, as a minimum, have completed a five-year graduation course (Master’s degree or equivalent), including a Master’s thesis of at least 30 ECTS. In special cases, the Faculty may grant admission on the basis of a one-year Master’s course following an assessment of the scope and quality of the study programme.

Further qualifications

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on:

  • The project's scientific merit, research-related relevance and innovation
  • The applicant's estimated academic and personal ability to complete the project within the allotted time frame and contribute to (the overall goals of) the Fakespeak project
  • The applicant's ability to complete research training
  • Good collaboration skills and the ability to successfully join in academic collaboration within and across disciplines
  • The applicant’s ability to communicate with non-academic and industrial collaboration partners, including communicating with existing partners and developing new contacts among potential users of project results

In addition publications in journals and presentations at conferences will be considered.

Applicants who have recently graduated with excellent results may be given preference.

We offer

How to apply

The application must include:

  • Application letter describing and exemplifying the applicant’s qualifications and motivation for the position. It is important that the applicant in the application letter describe, document and exemplify his/her qualifications with respect to the range of qualifications mentioned in the call text through concrete examples.
  • Curriculum Vitae (with a list of degrees, positions, teaching experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activities, as well as a complete list of published and unpublished works)
  • Transcript of records of applicant’s Bachelor’s and Master's degrees and a certificate of Master’s degree. Applicants with education from a foreign university must attach an explanation of their university's grading system
  • Master’s thesis (digital)
  • Project description, including a detailed progress plan for the project (3-5 pages, see Template for project descriptions)
  • A list of 2-3 reference persons (including name, relationship to the applicant, telephone number and email address)
  • Documentation of Language requirements, if applicable

Please note that all documents must be in English or a Scandinavian language.

Other diplomas, educational certificates and the like are not to be submitted with the application, but applicants may be asked to submit such information or works later.

Please do not attach any letters of recommendation.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system; please follow the link “Apply for this job”.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview.

Formal regulations

See also regulations as well as guidelines for the application assessment process and appointments to research fellowships.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The University of Oslo has an Acquisition of Rights Agreement for the purpose of securing rights to intellectual property created by its employees, including research results.

The University of Oslo aims to achieve a balanced gender composition in the workforce and to recruit people with ethnic minority backgrounds.

Contact information

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