GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences is an internationally active research institute, funded by federal and state governments and member of the Leibniz Association.

Starting on November 01, 2023, the department Computational Social Science (CSS), Team Data Science Methods located in Cologne is looking for a

Doctoral Researcher in Computational Social Science / Computational Linguistics

(Salary group 13 TV-L, working time 75%, for 4 years)

The interdisciplinary and internationally constituted department Computational Social Science (CSS) is dedicated to the study of sociocultural phenomena and digital society. For this purpose, we are using new approaches to data collection (e.g., web data collection, web tracking, smartphone apps) as well as different types of analysis methods (e.g., machine learning, network analysis, text and data mining), and standards (reproducible analysis methods).


The advertised position will be part of the new Data Science Methods team, led by Gabriella Lapesa. The team will focus on the design, implementation, and evaluation of data-driven methods for computational social science (CSS), especially on Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning. The group aims to push the state-of-the-art to improve how we describe, quantify, and explain social and political phenomena. It will work at the interface between computational argumentation and political communication, focusing on highly subjective phenomena and the challenges they pose to computational modeling.


Within the team, the doctoral researcher will conduct research on the challenges related to the integration of NLP approaches in the workflow of social/political science research. Using NLP to enlarge the scale of qualitative research is a very promising solution to the low resource scenarios that characterize theory-driven research in the social sciences. What are the bottlenecks, solutions, and risks that characterize such workflows? At a general level, the topic of the PhD project will be framed in the domain of computational argumentation; the specific case study and research questions will be defined based on the interests and background of the candidate. 

Your tasks will be:

  • Design and implementation of NLP tools for the (semi-)automatic analysis of political discourse
  • Design and conduct of large-scale annotation or crowdsourcing experiments
  • Learn necessary skills and acquire the theoretical knowledge about the phenomenon around which your research questions are centered
  • Publish the results of your research as part of your dissertation, and disseminate your work through guides, open-science materials, and real-world implementations

Your profile:

  • Master’s degree in a field relevant to Computational Linguistics or Computational Social Science
  • Background in text-as-data for politica/social sciences or computational argumentation is a plus
  • Experience in NLP and Machine Learning with Python; experience in data analysis with R is a plus
  • Experience in crowdsourcing and data collection from web platforms (e.g., web scraping, APIs) is a plus
  • Very good command of written and spoken English

Our Benefits:

  • An international and interdisciplinary working environment that will also support you in developing your own research profile
  • Close collaboration and scientific exchange with the BMBF project E-DELIB (University of Stuttgart), the DFG project MARDY, and the Institute for Internet Democracy (DIID) at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
  • Flexible working hours and the possibility of up to 60% mobile working within Germany
  • Generous support for your pension provision as a direct insurance policy
  • Very good conditions for reconciling work and family life, e.g., subsidies for childcare for children who have not yet attained the age of compulsory schooling
  • Holistic company health management and discounted participation
  • Promotion of your skills through further training measures

For further information concerning the tasks please contact Dr. Gabriella Lapesa via E-Mail. If you have questions about the application process, please contact Franca Tosetti via E-Mail.


Please apply via our Online-application portal until the position is filled (at least until September, 06th 2023).

Our reference number is: CSS-90.

GESIS offers an exciting work environment for interdisciplinary research at the interface between the social sciences and computer science. As an infrastructure institution, we promote social science research and cooperate with renowned international research institutes.

GESIS supports your PhD, i.e., with our GESIS Doctoral Program.  We offer a wide range of career opportunities in an attractive and rewarding work environment that allows you to carry out your tasks in a creative and autonomous manner. You will work in an international environment in the heart of Cologne and benefit from our flexible working conditions as well as our extensive internal and external networks.

GESIS is an equal opportunity employer and adheres to disability regulations.

We are a family-friendly employer and have been certified by the audit

Work&Family since 2010.

You will find further information here.