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Science 4 Refugees

Early Stage Researcher PhD post with the PROTECT Marie-Curie training network

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    Trinity College Dublin
    Computer science
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    09/03/2020 12:00 - Europe/London
    Ireland › Dublin
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions


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.

This post, ESR4, will be hosted by Trinity College Dublin. This ESR will undertake research in open data models for the transparent modelling of risk in data processing applications. In undertaking data analytics or AI-assisted decision-making on personal data, organisations need to manage the risk of breaching the privacy and ethical expectations of different stakeholders. Stakeholders may include data suppliers, customers, data subjects, regulators, other indirectly affected stakeholders and society in general. Managing such risks involves engaging with this wide variety of stakeholder to model the uncertainty and change in stakeholder expectations in a systematic, repeatable and transparent way. The ESR will research Semantic Web modelling techniques to integrate stakeholder expectations into data integration and quality management processes as a contribution to achieving ethical data governance and trustworthy AI.

This PhD post will be supervised by Prof Dave Lewis, http://people.tcd.ie/delewis  and Prof Declan O'Sullivan http://people.tcd.ie/osulldps

PROTECT PhD Training Network

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 Associates (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.

ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology Research

PROTECT ESR in TCD are hosted at the Science Foundation Ireland ADAPT Centre. ADAPT is Ireland’s global centre of excellence for digital media technology. Led by TCD, it combines the expertise of researchers at four universities (Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University College Dublin, TU Dublin, Maynooth University, Athlone Institute of Technology and Cork Institute of Technology) with that of its industry partners to produce ground-breaking digital content innovations.

ADAPT brings together more than 220 researchers who collectively have won more than €100m in funding and have a strong track record of transferring world-leading research and innovations to more than 140 companies. With €50M in research funding from Science Foundation Ireland and industry, ADAPT is seeking talented individuals to join its growing research team. Our research and technologies will continue to help businesses in all sectors and drive back the frontiers of future Web engagement.

Trinity College 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 47-acre 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 cutting-edge teaching and research facilities in Ireland.

Trinity is Ireland’s No.1 University in the QS World University Ranking, THE World University Ranking and the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai). Trinity is ranked 104th in the World, and 36th in Europe, in the 2018/2019 QS World University Ranking. Trinity is ranked in the Top 120 for Graduate Employability in the QS 2018 Rankings. Trinity is in the Top 50 most innovative universities in Europe according to Reuters. Between 2010 and 2015, Trinity was ranked the top university in Europe for entrepreneurship according to Pitchbook’s independent analysis.

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. The researcher will have a contract of employment, and receive an annual living allowance of €36,198.23, an annual mobility allowance €6,489.41, as well as conditional annual family allowance of €6,000. All tuition fees, research, travel, and networking costs incurred will be met separately from the budget of the ITN grant. The ESR 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 email provided, subject line PROTECT Network ESR4 application, including the following:

  • A completed PROTECT eligibility form - MS Word version available from: https://protect-network.eu/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. published 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.

Additional comments

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 Monica Lechea, ADAPT Centre, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. Email monica.lechea@adaptcentre.ie)
  • Application of the eligibility criteria appropriately assessed to ensure researchers who have suspended their activities whilst seeking refugee status are not disadvantaged.

Web site for additional job details

Offer Requirements

    Computer science: Bachelor Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


2.1 grade (or equivalent) in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in computer science, maths, engineering or similar technical discipline. Other qualifications in disciplines related to the ESR topic will also be considered.

Good programming ability.

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
Trinity College Dublin
Dublin 2
College Green

EURAXESS offer ID: 477429


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