PhD Position in Computational Linguistics (1.0 FTE)

University of Groningen




Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has established an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative university offering high-quality teaching and research. Its 31,000 students are encouraged to develop their own individual talents through challenging study and career paths. The University of Groningen is an international centre of knowledge: it belongs to the best research universities in Europe and is allied with prestigious partner universities and networks worldwide.

The Graduate School for the Humanities is the home for all PhD candidates of the Faculty of Arts (circa 250), and is committed to creating and maintaining excellent conditions for PhD research in all fields of the humanities. In addition to organizing local courses, the GSH works closely with 16 national research schools which offer regular courses and seminars by national and international top researchers.

Job Description

Applications are invited for a PhD candidate in the area of computational linguistics. This position is part of the NWO-funded Vrije Competitie project “Framing situations in the Dutch language”, which started in September 2018. This project is a collaboration between the Center for Language and Cognition of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and the Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The project is staffed with two PhD students and one postdoc.

The aim of this project is a better understanding of how different perspectives over the same “stories” are encoded in language. For some languages, researchers created databases (called FrameNets) containing rich collections of conceptual schemas (frames) that describe situations from a certain perspective. These frames are connected to words and sentences that express them. Several lexical resources exist for Dutch, but there is no FrameNet for Dutch yet. The project’s objectives are 1) to create a unique data set where similar situations are framed by many different sources and texts using a newly developed data-to-text method, 2) to capture the variation in framing these situations in Dutch and other languages, 3) to capture semantic-pragmatic factors underlying the usage of different frames for similar situations, and 4) to develop semantic frame and role annotation software.

The current vacancy is for a PhD student who will work on frame validation and cross-lingual frame projection. Even though frames themselves are considered universal, the way they are expressed differs from language to language. The lexical realisation of a frame structure is crucial, as it provides the surface access to the frame itself, both in acquisition and in interpretation. This PhD project will investigate the issue cross-linguistically, starting from already developed English FrameNet resources and mapping these to (primarily) Dutch and (secondarily) Italian. The two main outcomes of this project will be (1) an automatic statistical frame-labeller for Dutch, and (2) an annotated parallel corpus of sentences with frame semantics for the three languages.


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic student with a university’s master degree in computational linguistics, information science, computer science, artificial intelligence, or related area. Skills with annotation and supervised machine learning are mandatory; knowledge of Dutch (or Italian) is desired; experience with lexical resources is a plus. Furthermore an excellent knowledge of English and good academic writing skills are expedient.

Conditions of Employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:
• a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the final year (based on full-time employment, for 4 years); the position requires residence in Groningen, and must yield a PhD dissertation
• initially an appointment for 18 months; after the first year, an assessment of the candidate's progress and results will take place to decide whether the employment can be continued.

You will be enrolled in the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen. The GSH offers the organizational infrastructure within which PhD candidates participate in advanced training and supervised research:

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include:
1. A motivation letter in which you describe why you wish to do this research
2. A full curriculum vitae, demonstrating academic excellence, including publications and presentations (if applicable)
3. Certified copies of your BA and MA degrees and grades belonging to your bachelor and master degrees
4. Contact details of two academic referees.

You can submit your application (in English) until 2 June 11.59 pm / before 3 June 2019 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Prof. C.J.W. Zwart (questions regarding the Graduate School for the Humanities),
  • Prof. M. Nissim (questions regarding the project),,
  • Mrs. C. Englert MA (for questions about the submission procedure),

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

In your application, please refer to


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