Digital democracy European Union

Call for EU Country Researchers

Please note that this is not a job opportunity but the establishment of a working group of researchers who will monitor the upcoming European Parliament elections and are interested in contributing to our Social Media Monitoring Hub. However, there is financial compensation of 1500 EUR (including VAT), payable in two instalments.

As part of our access://democracy project, DRI aims to protect electoral integrity and citizens’ trust in the European Parliament elections through collaborative and comprehensive social media monitoring during the election cycle.  

As such, we invite early-career researchers to join our EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub to contribute country-specific research to an EU-wide integrated data set that reflects major trends in online election discourse, including disinformation campaigns and other online harms. 

Deadline: 21 February 2024, 18:00 CET.  

What is access://democracy? 

The access://democracy project, funded by the Mercator Foundation, protects electoral integrity and citizens’ trust in elections in the EU, including the upcoming European Parliament elections, by investigating the threats online information manipulation and hate speech pose to democracy. In 2023, DRI and its partners monitored elections in Poland and Spain. 

What is the EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub? 

Given the transnational nature of the upcoming European Parliament elections, DRI will pursue a collaborative research methodology to contextualise country-specific trends in online discourse and establish a standardised data set that can be used for comparative analysis.  

From March-July 2024, early-career researchers participating in the project will: 

  • collect and analyse national-level social media data independently, with guidance from DRI staff; 
  • regularly discuss research practices, methodologies and findings with other Hub country members in a structured format (up to 2 meetings per month); 
  • share/upload the collected national data to the Hub’s integrated EU-data set (built by DRI);  
  • contribute to the Hub’s concluding European Parliament election report with a one-page case study on national findings. 

Who can join the EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub? 

Successful EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub candidates will be in the early stages of their research career and based in an EU member state. Predoctoral or postdoctoral researchers (i.e., those currently working on their dissertation, or those who already hold a PhD) are strongly preferred, though researchers with a master’s degree and demonstrable work experience will be considered.  

Ideally, applicants to the EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub should: 

  • have or be currently pursuing a doctoral research degree in political science, communications and media, social sciences, or similar disciplines, with an academic focus on issues relating to elections, democracy, social media, and online discourse; or 
  • have a master’s degree in the aforementioned disciplines, and at least 2 years’ experience investigating online information manipulation, disinformation or hate speech, or monitoring elections; 
  • have a strong grasp of European political systems, electoral processes, and digital campaign strategies; 
  • be adept at using social media data access tools and programming languages, such as Python or R; 
  • have at least a basic understanding of Natural Language Processing (NLP) (e.g. proficiency in text preprocessing, sentiment analysis, named entity recognition (NER), part-of-speech tagging). 

What are the benefits of joining the EP 2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub?  

Joining DRI’s EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub has a number of benefits for early-career researchers, including:  

  • access to an EU-wide data set on online electoral discourse and joint Hub findings, as well as cross-border comparative analyses of narratives and trends driving online information manipulation during the EP elections; 
  • collaboration and networking with a broad cohort of researchers analysing transnational trends;  
  • support and guidance from DRI’s team of seasoned social media research experts, including access to platform APIs, and social media monitoring guidelines and methodologies; 
  • recognition as a co-author in DRI’s final report detailing the most important narratives and issues discussed online during the EP election campaign; 
  • practical experience researching the real-time spread of disinformation, the abuse of generative AI, as well as more subtle information manipulation trends across the EU; 
  • financial compensation of 1500 EUR (including VAT), payable in two instalments.  

How do I apply? 

If you’re interested in joining our initiative to protect the integrity of the upcoming EP elections and gather evidence to protect online electoral discourse from manipulation, please submit a short application to Sorina Matei ([email protected]) by 21 February 2024, 18:00 CET.   

Your application should include: 

  • Curriculum Vitae; 
  • A brief description (max 300 words) of your motivation to join the Hub, your desired thematic focus during the EP elections, and the country of choice in which to monitor social media election discourse, written in the body of your application email. 

The working language of the Social Media Monitoring Hub is English. 

Please note that this is a paid, one-time collaboration to establish a network of researchers who will monitor the upcoming European Parliament elections and contribute to our EP2024 Social Media Monitoring Hub.  

About Democracy Reporting International (DRI)  

DRI is a non-partisan, independent, not-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin. DRI promotes political participation of citizens, accountability of state bodies, and the development of democratic institutions worldwide.   

DRI’s Digital Democracy team works to protect and promote democratic debate online. Through our offices and projects around the globe, we monitor the effects of social media and other evolving technologies on public discourse; engage with governments, experts, and tech companies for effective regulation; and train citizen groups on how to assess their local digital environment and debates.  Our work touches on issues such as manipulated information, hate speech, coordinated inauthentic behaviour, platform design, and algorithms. 

Elections remain vulnerable to disinformation, hate speech and low-quality political discourse online. The threat actors, tools and tactics change over time, and they differ from country to country, requiring ongoing analysis and monitoring.   

This work is supported by

Stiftung Mercator