Are you highly motivated and enthusiastic with expertise in computational linguistics? Are you interested in news recommendation systems and how to improve them by making their suggestions more divers? Would you like to investigate language models that can establish similarity and diversity and see how they can be used best in an interdisciplinary team?  Then please consider applying for this position.

Rethinking News Algorithms

In this project, an interdisciplinary team consisting of experts from Law, Computational Linguistics, Computer Science and Communication Science will study how recommendations and presentation choices can optimize the diversity of consumed news. Will you help us fix the way news is spread in the 21st century?

Specifically, in this project you will work on applying NLP technologies that can identify similarities and differences between news articles.

See for more details on the project. When contacting us with questions (see below for contacting details), please name the project in the subject of your email.

Where current algorithms mainly aim for finding things that are similar to prior consumption, we envision algorithms that optimize between sufficient diversity to keep users well informed and sufficient similarity so that the user is triggered to read (and be satisfied with) the offer. Together with law (ethics) and communication science experts, you will dive various dimensions of diversity (ranging from a different view on a specific event or political decision to diversity in topics in general) and aim to design language models that can identify articles that strike the desired balance between diversity and connection.

Your duties

  • conduct reproducible computational linguistic experiments on language models for diversifying recommendation systems
  • write research articles and present your work, which is to culminate in a successful dissertation, at international conferences 
  • collaborate with the other junior and senior researchers on the team experience in or affinity with working in an interdisciplinary team
  • organize small events such as workshops and colloquia


  • master degree in computational linguistics or a related field (e.g. Artificial Intelligence or Computer Science with focus on NLP)
  • solid programming skills
  • experience in or affinity with working in an interdisciplinary team
  • fluent verbal communication and good writing skills in English
  • knowledge of Dutch is an advantage (but not strictly necessary) 


The research will be carried in a great interdisciplinary team containing experts from computational linguistics, philosophy, law, computer science and communication science. You will become part of a renown computational linguistics lab (, headed by Spinoza laureat Prof. dr. Piek Vossen. The lab is embedded in the gravity project Hybrid Intelligence offering plenty of opportunity to collaborate with reseachers of various universities across the Netherlands on fundamental aspects around collaborate, adaptive, responsible and explainable AI. In this context, you will receive joint supervision by dr. Antske Fokkens (VU) and dr. Suzan Verberne (Leiden University).

For more information on employment conditions, please visit the advertisement on the VU-site


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button on the VU-site and upload

  • your curriculum vitae (including code repository, if available)
  • academic transcripts (including grades)
  • a cover letter with motivation for your application 

until June 1, 2020.

The job interviews are currently planned to take place in the second half of June 2020, most likely they will take place online.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: dr. Antske Fokkens
Position: Associate Professor

Please mention `news recommender project’ explicitly in the subject line of your email when asking questions about this position

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