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/Job opportunities/Full-time PhD fellowship (4 years) to work on ERC project on Digital Wellbeing

Full-time PhD fellowship (4 years) to work on ERC project on Digital Wellbeing

PhD - Gent | More than two weeks ago

Subproject A: Modeling Digital Wellbeing with Intensive Longitudinal Data.

Research group imec-mict-UGent at Ghent University

The research group imec-mict-UGent at Ghent University is pleased to invite applications (m/f/x) for a full-time 4-year PhD fellowship in the context of the ERC project “Digital Wellbeing in a Culture of Ubiquitous Connectivity: Towards a Dynamic Pathway Model [DISCONNECT]”. The PhD fellow will work on subproject A of the DISCONNECT project. In this subproject, we examine whether we can model people’s experiences of digital wellbeing as a dynamic system in which the advantages and drawbacks of digital connectivity form a delicate balance. To build this model, we collect and analyze intensive longitudinal data. 

About the project

Digital technologies such as smartphones, laptops and smart watches enable an ever-present connectivity. This connectivity both empowers us and threatens our autonomy. On the one hand, digital technologies help us manage our everyday life and reach our personal goals. On the other hand, they divert our attention away from our primary activities, and exert pressure to be permanently online and permanently connected. This paradox creates an urgent challenge: How can individuals balance connectivity and “disconnectivity? The DISCONNECT project, a large scale research project funded by the European Research Council that is supervised by prof. Dr. Mariek Vanden Abeele, seeks answers to this question by using innovative research methods. This vacancy concerns subproject A. In subproject A of the DISCONNECT project, we collect intensive longitudinal data from 700 Flemish adults by logging their smartphone and laptop use, and administering short questionnaires multiple times per day. These data are subsequently combined with traditional survey data, to build dynamic, person-specific models that help explain when people experience (a lack of) digital wellbeing, and what role personal predispositions, technological factors and contextual factors play in these experiences. More information about the project can be found here.


You will be a member of an interdisciplinary team, in which your task will be to model the collected intensive longitudinal data to gain further insights into digital wellbeing. You school yourself in the use of state-of-the-art statistical and computer scientific analysis techniques, including network analysis and machine learning, and subsequently apply these techniques to the project data. You develop a theoretical framework, actively contribute to the data collection, write scientific articles, and participate in (inter-)national scientific congresses. Additionally, you are expected to complete a doctoral dissertation based on your research. Finally, you participate in the daily activities of the ERC-team, the research group imec-mict-UGent, and the department of Communication Sciences at Ghent University. After successfully completing the dissertation, you have acquired skills that put you on the map as ‘computational social scientist’. 

Profile of the candidate

  • You have a master’s degree in Communication Sciences, Psychology or Sociology, and can demonstrate an outspoken interest in statistical and computer scientific analysis techniques. Candidates with degrees from other programs (e.g., Data science or Informatics) may also apply when they can show sufficient knowledge of the research domain and can demonstrate relevant expertise and/or interest. Students who are currently finalizing their master’s degree are welcome to apply. 
  • You are an excellent and motivated researcher with an analytic mind. Your profile becomes more competitive if you have already acquired methodological and analytical skills for collecting and analyzing intensive longitudinal data, and/or have command of R, Python or another programming language.
  • You are fluent in English and have mastered the basics of academic writing in English. 
  • You are pro-active, and are capable of independently developing your own research line within the confines of the ERC project.
  • You are communicative, work well in a team and are capable of both giving and receiving feedback, as well as transforming feedback adequately in your activities. 
  • You enjoy being involved also in the work of colleagues working on other subproject of DISCONNECT, which will be performed by other team members.
  • You are not afraid to roll up your sleeves. At times when the project asks a lot of energy, you can motivate both yourself and others.

What we offer

We offer you a fulltime fellowship for a period of maximum 4 years. The earliest starting date of the contract is 1 September 2021.

Note: If you have been employed as a fellow or research assistant at a Flemish university below, this may have consequences for your contract. 

In addition to the doctoral grant, you can count on a number of benefits, such as 38 days of paid leave per year, a wide range of training and education opportunities, bicycle commuting reimbursement, ecocheques, etc. A complete overview of all benefits can be found on the UGent website.

You will work in a dynamic and stimulating research environment. You will work in the brand new ‘De Krook’ buiding in Ghent, a place where knowledge, creativity and entrepreneurship are central.


All applications must be received no later than June 30, 2021 at 23:59 (CET) at , with the following documents attached as one file

  • A cover letter, in which you motivate why we should consider your candidacy 
  • A CV, in which you include the names and contact information of 2 persons who we may contact as referents 
  • A transcript of your degree(s)
  • A scan of your study results
  • A document that demonstrates your writing skills (e.g., a paper or your thesis)

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position. 

Please contact the principal investigator of the project, Prof. dr. Mariek Vanden Abeele, if you have further questions about this position and the vacancy:

More information about the imec research group mict can be found here: