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Fulltime Postdoctoral Fellowship (100%) - Behavioural and societal effects of disinformation


1 - Working at the VUB


Freedom, equality, and solidarity have been central to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel for more than 50 years. These values are also very much alive on our campuses, among students and staff alike. Here you will find a colourful mix of personalities who all have one thing in common: they are innovators pur sang who are 100% their authentic selves. With some 4.000 employees spread over 4 campuses, we are the largest Dutch-speaking employer in Brussels, the vibrating international capital of the European Union.


The VUB is a humanist university. Teaching and research at the VUB are grounded in the principles of free inquiry with an eye to humanistic values. We consider each person to be free, equal, and connected. Free to form an opinion based on free research, without regard to arguments based purely on authority. Equal in the sense that no one is more or less than another, regardless of social or ethnic origin. And connected because we all live together, face the same challenges, and want to be treated with respect. 


The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.


2 - Position description


The Faculty Social Sciences & Solvay Business School, Department Sociology, is looking for a postdoctoral researcher. 


This research is in the framework of an international research project (De-Conspirator) on the social and collective drivers of foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) and their effects on society and groups. You are expected to work as a post-doc researcher as a member of Prof. Tuba Bircan’s team, in which you will:

  • Contribute to an interdisciplinary team that focusing on behavioural and societal effects of disinformation.

  • Work in close collaboration with partner organisations to collect and analyze data on domestic social media accounts and network clusters disseminating FIMI-related content, such as disinformation, propaganda, and fake news operations.

  • Conduct social network analysis of trans-European FIMI clusters and visualise the results.

  • Perform content analyses using natural language processing (NLP) techniques, sentiment analysis, and other text analysis tools.

  • Support the development, implementation, and analysis of a comprehensive multilingual survey to analyse the emotional and psychological impact of FIMI on individuals, the influence of FIMI on political and social beliefs, and the social and collective consequences of FIMI.

  • Assess new sampling approaches such as social media advertising.

  • Publish your research in internationally peer-reviewed outlets.

  • Support project-related work, including preparing policy reports and actively disseminating research results.

  • You are expected to support the project-related work such as preparing policy reports and actively disseminating the research results.

For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base. 


3 – Profile

What do we expect from you?


  • A completed doctoral degree in a field relevant to computational social science, such as applied computer science, statistics, physics, political science, communication science, psychology, sociology, or related disciplines.

  • Familiarity with disinformation, misinformation, and fake news.

  • A solid research background in computational social science, demonstrated by experience in the application and development of pertinent methodologies including, but not limited to, network analysis, machine learning, natural language processing, and text/data mining.

  • Expertise in data analysis using R and/or Python. Experience with Jupyter Notebooks/Rmarkdown is a plus.

  • Visible activities related to open science (open methodology, open source, or open access), demonstrated by publishing methods/code on established platforms, developing tools, or conducting method-focused training activities.

  • A promising track record, demonstrable in academic research output (high-quality publications).

  • Female candidates and members of ethnic minority or refugee groups are particularly encouraged to apply.


4 - Offer:

Are you going to be our new colleague?


You’ll be offered a contract, for an assignment of 1 FTE, for 12 months (extendable up to max. 24 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the research activities), with a planned starting date 01/01/2024. Your monthly fellowship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for postdoctoral fellowship holders on the pay scales set by the government.


At the VUB, you’re guaranteed an open, involved, and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.


As well as this, you’ll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;

  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance;

  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;

  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;

  • Ecocheques;

  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants;

  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a full-time contract). 


5 - Interested?

Is this the job you’ve been dreaming of?


Send us ONLINE and at the latest on 01/09/2023 your CV, letter of motivation, and the PhD diploma degree (not applicable for VUB alumni).


Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Prof. dr. Tuba Bircan at or on 0032 (0) 2 614 81 34.


Would you like to know what it’s like to work at the VUB? Go to and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

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