The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

PhD on Stack of Privacy Enhancing Technologies supporting compliance with the new GDPR

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    Universidad Politécnica de Madrid - OPE
    Computer scienceDatabase management
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    15/09/2019 12:00 - Europe/Athens
    Spain › Boadilla del Monte
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


We invite you to apply for a PhD position as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network ‘PROTECT - Protecting Personal Data Amidst Big Data Innovation’, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. You would be enroled in the Artificial Intelligence PhD programme of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain).

Deadline for the application: August 31st, 2019, 23:59 CET

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

Send your email to ofertas@delicias.dia.fi.upm.es, 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 Universidad Politécnica de Madrid 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

    ENGLISH: Good

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)
1 position(s) available at
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Boadilla del Monte
Ciruelos 2

EURAXESS offer ID: 438027


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