Postdoctoral Research Associate in Digital Humanities and Digital Skills Training

Durham, United Kingdom
£37,474 per annum
08 Feb 2023
End of advertisement period
15 Feb 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Computer Science

Grade 7: - £37,474 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 9 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 15-Feb-2023, 7:59:00 AM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable

The University

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  

Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here

The Department

As a UK Top 10 Department (Complete University Guide 2023) we are committed to high quality teaching and research. Computer Science increased excellence in all areas of research since the last research assessment exercise, moving six places up the ranking to the 20th position for REF 2021. We are located in the beautiful city of Durham and have recently moved into a brand new, purpose-built building along with the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

At the Computer Science Department at Durham University, there are researchers working on related areas such as: natural language processing and sentiment analysis; image processing, computer vision and pattern recognition for conservation and the visual arts; the semantic and social web; digital education and gamification; optical character recognition, and text and data mining.  The successful applicant will contribute to the Department’s growing research activities in the strongly interdisciplinary area of Digital Humanities (DH).

We are proud of the emphasis we place on equality, diversity and inclusion and are working hard to make our department the No.1 University in the UK for women to study Computer Science.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Digital Humanities and Digital Skills Training with a particular emphasis on digital skills for analysing Web data, to support the implementation of a novel digital skills training programme for humanities researchers in the UK. The successful applicant will work closely with the staff of the project “Accelerating embedded computational analysis of Web data about music in UK universities” (AHRC-funded project - Embed digital skills in arts and humanities research), led by the Principal Investigator, Dr Eamonn Bell (Computer Science, Durham University).

More about the project

Web data is especially useful for the cultural study of music as the internet plays host to novel and complex cultural and social forms, like music streaming, ripping and sharing, and online co-production of music. However, specialised digital skills are required to retrieve, process, and analyse this data, especially at the scales that are required to deal with the increasing volumes of information available to researchers online. The project will address this problem by piloting a new digital skills training programme for music researchers, which will train approximately sixty (60) UK-based researchers at a variety of digital skill levels and representing various career stages in topics relevant to using Web data as a primary source.

Six, one-day, online workshops will be held on topics that are directly relevant to the needs of music researchers who are interested in making use of Web data in their research, which will be elicited through a survey programme and focus groups at the partner institutions of Durham University and the University of Birmingham.

Some of the topics covered include: an introduction to Web technology for music researchers; training in the use new, user-friendly graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for the retrieval of Web data; and the advanced use of command-line interfaces to capture and analyse large amounts of Web data. The training offered will be of direct relevance to music researchers, as all workshop leaders themselves are music researchers, and they will be invited to illustrate how digital skills training has allowed them to answer exciting, transformative research questions.

To ensure the usefulness of the training sessions to a much broader audience than the first cohort of trainees covered in this pilot project, workshop leaders and project staff will prepare their training materials according to an innovative and well-regarded methodology for open, reusable, and sustainable software skills training, known as The Carpentries.

To ensure this, the project will consult with trainers from the Sustainable Software Institute, who will provide workshop leaders and project staff with the training needed to become certified Carpentries instructors and to successfully design and deliver collaborative digital skills training lessons. Toward the end of the project, the results of the survey programme and focus groups will be analysed, and the strengths and the weaknesses of the pilot will be critically analysed in a co-authored, peer-reviewed journal article.

The successful applicant will be expected:

  • To conduct qualitative and quantitative research ensuring and assessing the success of a novel digital skills training program for UK-based music researchers.
  • To support the design, implementation, and delivery of this skills training programme.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator and other colleagues, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend their research portfolio.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.


The successful applicant will additionally be expected:

  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development.

This post is fixed term for 9 months (with the possibility of a further 3-month extension), due to the grant terms set by the funding body.

The post-holder is employed to work on a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st March, 2023; a slightly earlier start may be possible, pending candidate availability and with the funding body's agreement.

Working at Durham

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits:

  • 30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
  • The University closes between Christmas and New Year. 
  • We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
  • No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
  • There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities. 
  • Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
  • On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
  • Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
  • The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community
  • Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions. 
  • A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.

Durham University is committed to equality diversity, inclusion and values

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

Contact Information

Department contact for academic-related enquiries

For informal enquiries please contact Eamonn Bell (Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science) by email at eamonn.bell@durham.ac.uk.  All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to e.recruitment@durham.ac.uk

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays). 

How to Apply 

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria. 

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview. 

Submitting your application

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • a CV and cover letter (maximum of 2 pages, A4) which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below.

Next Steps

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department.  The assessment for the post will normally include an interview and the review of your submitted application materials.  We anticipate that the assessments and interviews will take place over two days in or around early-mid February 2023.

In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.durham.ac.uk/about-us/governance/information-governance/privacy-notices/privacy-notices/job-applicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.  

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria:


  1. A good first degree in any subject.
  2. A PhD (or be close to submission) in digital humanities or a related topic applying any method(s) allied to the digital humanities.


  1. Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  2. Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  3. Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national and international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  4. Experience in organising and/or delivering training for researchers (at any level).


  1. Demonstrated ability in collecting, processing, and analysing Web data relevant to the humanities and/or social sciences.
  2. Demonstrated understanding of applications of Web data in the humanities and/or social sciences.
  3. Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  4. Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  5. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.  

Desirable Criteria:


  1. Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  2. A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  3. Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  4. Experience working on a music research project and/or with music researchers.
  5. Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  6. Experience in designing, organising and/or delivering digital skills trainings for humanities researchers (at any level).
  7. Demonstrable experience with the Software Carpentries methodology.


  1. Demonstrated fluency in collecting, processing, and analysing Web data relevant to the humanities and/or social sciences.
  2. Demonstrated mastery of applications of Web data in the humanities and/or social sciences.
  3. Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 

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