Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
Science 4 Refugees

Two 3-year PhD positions in Privacy and Information Management through Castlebridge (PROTECT-Network)

This job offer has expired

    Computer scienceInformatics
    Juridical sciencesInformatic law
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    19/08/2019 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Ireland › Dublin
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


Motivated researchers are invited to apply for one of 2 PhD positions with Castlebridge through the School of Law and the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group at Trinity College Dublin as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, PROTECT – ‘Protecting Personal Data Amidst Big Data Innovation’.   PROTECT is an international, interdisciplinary and cross academic-industry training network hosted across Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium. It is recruiting 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) to undertake research towards PhDs in the disciplines of law, ethics or computer science, with the common goal of Protecting Personal Data Amidst Big Data Innovation.

Position 1: Privacy Paradigm Policy Classification (ref. PROTECT-ESR1)

Supervision Team: Dr. K. O’Keefe, (Castlebridge), Prof E. O’Dell (TCD School of Law), Prof. D. Lewis (TCD Computer Science), Prof P.de Hert (VUB), D. O’Brien (Castlebridge)

Position 2: Modelling Relationships between personal data objects and data analysis operations for legal and ethical risk assessment (ref. PROTECT-ESR2)

Supervision Team: D. O’Brien (Castlebridge, Dublin), Dr D. Fennelly (TCD School of Law), Dr. K. O’Keefe (Castlebridge)


Researchers will have the advantage practical grounding and experiential work practice for case studies in Privacy, Data Protection, and Information Management through work with Ireland's leading Data Protection and Information Management consultancy. PhD candidates will be supervised by a supervisory team consisting of industry experts from Castlebridge and Academic Supervisors from Trinity College Dublin. Degrees will be awarded through the School of Law in Trinity College Dublin.


What is Castlebridge?

Castlebridge are Ireland’s premier consultancy in Data Protection, Information Management, and Business Information Strategy. Every day, we help people do great things with data. Founded in 2009 by CEO and Managing Director Daragh O Brien, over the past decade, Castlebridge has become the go-to authority in data governance, privacy and ethics. Our staff include internationally recognized experts in Management, Information Ethics, and Business Information Strategy to organizations in a range of sectors and sizes, from SMEs and start-ups to charities, to large utilities and government departments, helping them find the value in their data and ensure they can get the best outcomes in an ethical and compliant manner.


Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin.

Trinity is Ireland’s premier university, with a proud tradition of excellence stretching back to its foundation in 1592. The oldest university in Ireland, and one of the oldest in Europe, today Trinity sits at the intersection of the past and the future, and is ideally positioned as a major university in the European Union. Our 47­acre campus is located in the heart of Dublin city centre and is home to historic buildings dating from the University’s establishment, as well as some of the most cutting­edge teaching and research facilities in Ireland. Students at Trinity benefit from a unique educational experience across a range of disciplines in our three faculties – Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Science; and Health Sciences. The pursuit of excellence through research and scholarship is at the heart of a Trinity education, and our researchers have an outstanding publication record and strong record of grant success.

What is PROTECT?

PROTECT is a unique multidisciplinary, cross academic-industry and international European Training Network (ETN) formed to train a new generation of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) as PhD graduates.  The network investigates methods to protect of rights and interests of individuals impacted by the continuous large-scale analysis of personal data, while still enabling the economy and society to benefit from rapid innovation in digital applications that use this data and thereby underpin the Digital Single Market. PROTECT ESRs will receive training to enable them to integrate and apply arguments, analyses and tools from across the fields of law, technology ethics and knowledge engineering, so that they can excel in research and data science careers within digital services industry and public policy sectors too address problems of data protection, data ethics and data governance.


The PROTECT Training Network

The ESRs will receive a strongly multidisciplinary training programme, bringing together world-class researcher in Data Protection Law, Technology Ethics and Knowledge Engineering to offer an excellent structured research programme operating at the critical boundaries between these three fields. The research supervision and training for ESRs is delivered by a network composed of the following world-class research groups and industry practitioners:

  • the School of Law and the Knowledge and Data Engineering Group at Trinity College Dublin (TCD);
  • the Institute of Ethics at Dublin City University (DCU)
  • the Dept of Philosophy and the 4TU Centre for Ethics and Technology in University of Twente (UT - Netherlands);
  • the Law, Science, Technology & Society (LSTS) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB - Belgium);
  • the Ontology Engineering Group at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM - Spain).
  • Castlebridge (CBR - Ireland) provide training in data protection and governance consultancy
  • the Rathenau Instituut of Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW - Netherlands) in technology social impact analysis and policy debate.

A further set of industry partners will offer ESRs a rich range of relevant industry experience through training secondments.

Research Problems Addressed by the PROTECT Network:

There is a growing awareness worldwide that the personal data of users of online information services are not adequately protected.  Companies harvest and utilise personal data on a massive scale, including browser behaviour, social media messages, and content on personal websites. Concerns about the collection, use and leakage of personal data have become more pronounced since the rise of “big data”, i.e. very large data sets gathered from mobile devices, bio-sensors, cameras, GPS trackers and social media. These data are analysed using increasingly sophisticated machine learning techniques to deliver new insights and predictions about an individual’s behaviour and also feed increasingly personalised AI-driven interactive digital experiences.

The rate of technological innovation, now accelerated by big data and machine learning techniques, invariably outpaces public policy debate and the development of new regulation for the protection of personal data. This comes as the scale and social impact of data analysis is rapidly increasing. Individuals and groups are poorly placed to consider the impact of use of their personal information, especially when this use also delivers attractive personalised digital services. At the same time, tech companies, especially SMEs, lack the knowledge and expertise needed to address the complex legal and ethical implications of collecting and analysing personal data. PROTECT ESRs will develop new ways of empowering users of digital services to understand the risks they take with their rights and interests when they go online and offer new ways to enable developers to incorporate privacy, data protection and broader ethical considerations into the development of digital services, even as they are face growing commercial and competitive demands to exploit personal data.

More Information


The Horizon 2020 MSCA ITN programme offers an attractive and highly competitive salary and working conditions for Early Stage Researchers undertaking a PhD. Successful candidates will receive living allowance along with monthly mobility allowance and where applicable an additional family allowance, as well as funding for research travel, equipment, material and training. Candidate will be registered with the PhD programme relevant to their academic discipline (law, ethics, computer science) of their primary academic supervisor, and will be supported by a supervisory team draw from academic and industry research from across the PROTECT network.

In addition to pursuing individual PhD research, successful candidates will benefit from a rich interdisciplinary, international and cross academic-industry training programme. This will consist of secondments to other academic partners and industry partners, local institute PhD training programmes and a dedicated PROTECT training programme to develop skills in interdisciplinary research, responsible research and innovation, public engagement and communication, research commercialisation and intellectual property and winning research funding.

As an ESR in PROTECT, the appointee will become adept in a broad range of multidisciplinary skills and competences required to pursue a career in both academic and industrial settings. The PROTECT network interlocks legal, ethics and knowledge engineering approaches to address multiple societal and business problems raised by widespread collection and analytics of personal data. The three disciplines are therefore given equal emphasis. So while each ESR will gain a PhD in one of the three disciplines, they will also receive strong individual inter-disciplinary research training opportunities through co-supervision and inter-institutional secondments. The teams of multi-disciplinary ESR will receive continuous interdisciplinary training by working closely together on joint deliverables, joint publications and through collaborating on presenting their research results to the consortium, to the public and to industrial audiences. This collaboration will be via remote meetings and face-to-face collaboration through co-location during secondments and network wide research and training event.

The training will equip ESR with the competencies to become:

i) An expert in their discipline of research, while having knowledge of cutting-edge methods and technologies in related disciplines: This is in part discipline-specific and in part interdisciplinary. For Legal Research: proficiency in locating and understanding secondary and primary legal sources and in forming and communicating a legal opinion on a new issue arising from technology use. For Ethics Research: proficiency in identifying ethical problem with a given data analytics application; in selecting and applying ethical theory to the understanding of an ethical problem; and in translating ethical understanding to stakeholders, including designers and users of technology and policy makers. For Knowledge Engineering Research: proficiency in knowledge capture and formalisation methods and in mapping knowledge models taken from different sources or viewpoints. ESRs would also gain proficiency in survey and questionnaire design and proficiency in searching and identifying publications using large-scale databases.

ii) Skilled in presenting their results in writing and orally, including communicating the results beyond an academic audience: The disseminating skills and include: proficiency in: writing and structuring academic papers; presentation to academic, public policy and professional audiences; dissemination and communication using the Internet and social media; as well as sound knowledge of English Academic Writing.

iii) Experienced in designing and managing research projects, including cooperation with the private sector: The skills include proficiency in: cooperation in intercultural, interdisciplinary teams; providing and receiving comments; project management for inter-disciplinary, inter-sectorial and multi-site projects; writing fundraising research proposals; and peer review of academic papers.

iv) Aware of ethical issues related to their discipline of research and the expertise in dealing with research ethics issues; skills to be gained are interdisciplinary and include proficiency in avoiding issues associated with plagiarism and academic fraud on the basis of established professional ethical standards and guidelines and proficiency in dealing with issues related to privacy of individuals and enterprises and to respondent burden on the basis of established professional ethical standards and guidelines.

PROTECT training is implemented through:

  • Local training, the provides the basic discipline-specific theoretical and methodological knowledge and transferable skills
  • Network-wide training, primarily delivered via three, week-long training workshops delivering tutorials and active learning in transferable skills; (
  • Research-based training, where ESR develop high-level research skills through investigations and generation of results for peer-reviewed under mentorship of an international and inter-sectorial supervision team;
  • Secondments and internships, where ESRs will apply their research skills to a problem in a commercial or public policy research environment;
  • Extra-academic training, where ESR will learn through external communication and public engagement activities and training.

Network Wide Training: Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the ETN, a strong emphasis is placed on design of the Network Meetings and Training Workshops and the collaborative research opportunities to work in research teams collaborating across the legal, ethics and knowledge engineering disciplines on a wide range of multidisciplinary research problems as well as discipline-specific and transferable skills training.

At the training workshops, doctorial consortium sessions will enable ESRs to present their individual research project with the emphasis on effective cross-disciplinary communication and feedback from the supervisor cohort, other experienced researchers, industrial partners, policy influencers and peer ESR. The training workshops offer tutorials on discipline-specific knowledge in methodologies and techniques as well as on transferrable skills from experts within the participating organisations.

All these pillars will be linked together to create an individual Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP), which will define and evaluate the goals of every ESR. The PDCP will be developed within the first month of each ESR’s engagement in consultation with their supervision team. The PDCP will be composed of the career goals broken down into scientific research goals and training challenges; the disciplinary, inter-disciplinary and academic-industry collaboration experience and training and the necessary dissemination, exploitation and communication achievements, which together will deliver the ESR’s career goals.

Eligibility criteria

All researchers recruited must be Early-Stage Researchers (ESR). Early-Stage researchers are those who, at the time of recruitment by the host are in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not already been awarded a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when they obtain the degree that formally entitles them to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged).

Researchers are required to undertake physical, transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. Researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to their recruitment. Compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays, and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account. Note that the mobility rule applies to the country of the host where the researcher is recruited, and not to countries to which the researcher may be seconded.

Selection process

Apply via the provided email address, including the following:

  • A completed PROTECT eligibility form
  • A covering letter explaining why the candidate wants the position and what qualifies them for it.
  • A CV
  • Attached document or links to documents providing a max of 3 examples of work demonstrating prior achievement in research, enquiry or debate, e.g. publish paper or other work; software, standards or policy contribution; dissertation or masters thesis.

A panel at the hosting institute to which you apply will check eligibility, assess all applications and shortlist applicants for interview to determine final appointments.

PROTECT pursues a policy of equal opportunities on matters of gender and disability and will seek to recruit an equal proportion of male and female applicants and will provide employment opportunities for candidates with disabilities. Employment procedures and contracts will conform to the European Charter for Researchers / Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers.

The following aspects are in place to ensure access to researchers at risk and those with refugee status:

  • Application submission by post where online application requirements may discriminate against the researcher’s circumstances (please contact the project manager Jessica Grene, ADAPT Centre, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. Email jgrene@tcd.ie)
  • Application of the eligibility criteria appropriately assessed to ensure researchers who have suspended their activities whilst seeking refugee status are not disadvantaged.

Additional comments

Working in PROTECT Research Teams

This research network addresses the challenge of protecting personal data that is being devoured by accelerating AI innovation by bringing together cutting-edge research in privacy law, technology ethics and computer science, specifically the sub-discipline of knowledge engineering.  We believe that this unique multi-disciplinary combination will enable new and powerful approaches to this problem.

The PhD students recruited to this network will collaborate in multidisciplinary teams to develop new ways of empowering users of digital services to understand the risks they take protect their rights and interests when they go online and new ways to enable developers to incorporate privacy, data protection and broader ethical considerations into the development of digital services, even as they are face growing commercial and competitive demands for data analytics.  Specifically, three interlocking international multidisciplinary teams will be formed, each addressing on of the following objectives:

  • To develop standard forms to represent privacy norms for interactions between digital service providers and consumers. This will be achieved by the Privacy Paradigm team by developing Creative Commons-like scheme for Privacy, that offers providers of mobile and web applications standard-form privacy policies that implement different levels of privacy management aligned to major classes of norms in user expectations of privacy rights.
  • To establish methods and tools for technology design and technological practice that address the ethics of personalisation. This will be achieved by the Ethics of Personalisation team by investigating how the benefits of personalisation, where applications are tailored to a personal profile or digital persona assembled from observed data, can be pursued in a way that is ethically acceptable to user communities by exposing and governing potential risks to personal autonomy from automated bias and discrimination.
  • To build knowledge-based tools that can assess legal and ethical risks amid the uncertainties of complex personal data flows spanning heterogeneous data sources. This will be achieved by the Personal Data Governance team by using open and transparent knowledge management techniques to ensure personal data collection and processing systems can be efficiently and accurately understood to assess privacy and ethical issues.

Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

    Juridical sciences: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    Arts: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    Ethics in social sciences: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    Information science: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    Other: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


You have a Bachelors or postgraduate degree in a related field and an excellent academic record. (Related fields may be broad, as Castlebridge associates have backgrounds in varied fields such as Information Management, Law, Arts and Humanities, Business, and Computer Science)

  • Flexible and motivated
  • Critical thinking and analytical skills, able to synthesize information from disparate sources
  • English language skills, both in writing and speaking
  • Good social and communication skills in academic as well as non-academic contexts
  • Able to work independently and willing to collaborate in multidisciplinary setting with project participants and partners from different countries and diverse backgrounds
  • Must be able to work in a self-directed and self-managing role
  • Able to deliver to objectives in a timely manner
  • Fulfil the definition of an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR) set by the European Commission: At the time of recruitment by the host you are in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent research experience) of your research career and have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree. This is measured from the date when you obtain the degree that formally entitles you to embark on a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which you are recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged). So again, you should not have a PhD at the time you apply, and you should not have had more than 4 years of full-time research appointments after the year in which you became eligible to become a PhD student in your home country.

Specific Requirements

In addition PROTECT PhD students must demonstrate:

  • An ability to collaborate with international research teams in the English language.
  • An enthusiasm for working on multidisciplinary research problems, including research collaboration and publication across disciplinary boundaries.


Work location(s)
2 position(s) available at
Unit 7, 12 Mounjoy Square

EURAXESS offer ID: 427751


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