derek ruths || network dynamics

Opening for Post-doc in Modeling Bad Behavior Online

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The McGill Network Dynamics Lab, run by PI Derek Ruths, has an opening for a post-doc, available immediately. Funding will primarily support a research program focused on measuring, modeling, and detecting various forms of bad behavior in online platforms. Ongoing work in the lab considers a wide range of such phenomena including fake news, hate speech, and online radicalization. The ideal candidate will have a strong academic record for work in user modeling using techniques such as machine learning, crowd sourcing, online surveys, and rigorous statistical analysis.

About the topic

Harassment, hate speech, deceptive reporting practices, and trolling have all emerged as major obstacles to the vitality and utility of online platforms. Despite the urgency in dealing with such behavior, the challenges are many: (1) operational definitions of bad behavior are largely non-existent, (2) good, large-scale datasets for any given kind of bad behavior do not exist, (3) methods for detecting bad behavior are in their infancy, and (4) it is unclear what strategies would best mitigate bad behavior. Furthermore, preliminary research has yielded increasing evidence that models of bad behavior are subject to problematic and hard-to-detect bias. Urgency, combined with these many open problems make for a dynamic research area in which an ambitious researcher has the opportunity to make seminal contributions that have real impact on the fate of online platforms.

About the position

We seek a post-doc who is eager to take a proactive role in (1) shaping research questions, (2) mentoring students, and (3) executing their own research. The position offers substantial opportunities for developing a research program, participating in cutting-edge research, and collaborating with industry and academic leaders in the fields of social informatics, machine learning, and computational social science. The position opening is for 2 years, with possibility for a 1 year extension. Funding is competitive with other similar positions. Appointment will be through the McGill University School of Computer Science.


Applicants should have their PhD by Sept 1, 2017. The ideal applicant will have a strong background in applied machine learning, significant experience with data mining and modeling with online data, and a sincere interest in making online spaces civil, productive, and inclusive.

About the lab

The Network Dynamics Lab is part of the McGill School of Computer Science. Run by PI Derek Ruths, it is home to a community of active undergraduate and graduate researchers. The lab has consistently published research in top-tier venues such as Science, ICWSM, and CHI. Further, through past and ongoing work, the lab has strong ties and collaborations with major social media platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, and Google – as well as governments – including Canada, the UK, and the US.

How to Apply

Please email the following to no later than June 9, 2017:

  1. Cover letter describing your research interests, interest in the position, and relevant skills
  2. CV
  3. 1-2 published works (if not first author, candidate should clarify their role in the work)
  4. 2 reference letters (sent directly to the email address above)
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