PhD Fellowship in Language Modeling for Explainable AI

University of Stavanger


Ph.D fellowship in Language Modeling for Explainable AI

Job description

The University of Stavanger invites applicants for a Ph.D fellowship in Language Modeling for Explainable AI at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The position is vacant from 1. August 2021.

This is a trainee position that will give promising researchers an opportunity for academic development leading to a doctoral degree.

The appointment is for three years with research duties exclusively, or four years with both research and 25% compulsory duties. This will be clarified in the recruitment process.

The position is funded by SFI NorwAI, the new 8-year research-based innovation Center for AI Innovation. Here, we are joining forces with 15 partners from industry, universities and research institutes. Research areas cover competences that the Norwegian industry needs to develop cutting-edge theories, methods and technology, for efficient, effective and responsible exploitation of data-driven AI in innovative industrial solutions.

Project description

AI-powered systems exhibit a growing degree of personalization when recommending content. Users, however, have little knowledge of how these systems work and what personal data they use. There is a need for transparency, in terms of (1) collecting and using personal data, and
how it is used for inferring user preferences and (2) explaining and justifying the generated recommendations.

The most human-like form of providing explanations is via natural language. This would allow users to better understand how their preferences are understood and interpreted by the system, and also correct it if necessary.
The main goal of the project is to develop novel models that enable semantically rich and context-dependent text-based explainability of user preferences and system recommendations, using either existing metadata or automatically extracted annotations. A starting point for generating explanations is template-based; later, this can be made more human-like using language generation techniques, using large-scale (pre-trained) language models.

The application must be accompanied by a cover letter explaining your interest in the project and the relevance of your background and experience. Applications without a cover letter will not be considered.

Qualification requirements

We are looking for applicants with a strong academic background who have completed a five-year master degree (3+2) within Computer Science, more specifically within information retrieval or natural language processing (NLP), preferably acquired recently; or possess corresponding qualifications that could provide a basis for successfully completing a doctorate.

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral programmes at the University of Stavanger both the grade for your master's thesis and the weighted average grade of your master's degree must individually be equivalent to or better than a B grade. If you finish your education (masters degree) in the spring/summer of 2021, you are also welcome to apply.

Applicants with an education from an institution with a different grade scale than A-F should attach a confirmed conversion scale that shows how the grades can be compared with the Norwegian A-F scale. You can use these conversion scales to calculate your points for admission.

Emphasis is also placed on your:

motivation and potential for research within the field your professional and personal skills for completing the doctoral degree within the timeframe ability to work independently and in a team, be innovative and creative
ability to work structured and handle a heavy workload having a good command of both oral and written English
Requirements for competence in English

A good proficiency in English is required for anyone attending the Ph.D program. International applicants must document this by taking one of the following tests with the following results:

TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-Based Test (IBT). Minimum result: 90
IELTS - International English Language Testing Service. Minimum result: 6.5
Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) og Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) from the University of Cambridge
PTE Academic - Pearson Test of English Academic. Minimum result: 62

The following applicants are exempt from the above requirements:
Applicants with one year of completed university studies in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA
Applicants with an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma
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Applicants with an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma
Applicants with a completed bachelor's and / or master's degrees taught in English in a EU/EEA country

We offer

varied duties in a large, exciting and socially important organisation
an ambitious work community which is developing rapidly. We strive to include employees at all levels in strategic decisions and promote an informal atmosphere with a flat organisational structure.
colleague-based guidance programme (NyTi) if teaching is a part of your Ph.D
salary in accordance with the State Salary Scale, 17.515, code 1017, NOK 482 200 gross per year with salary
development according to seniority in the position. From the salary, 2% is deducted as a contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

automatic membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund, which provides favourable insurance- and retirement benefits favourable membership terms at a gym and at the SIS sports club at campus
employment with an Inclusive Workplace organisation which is committed to reducing sick leave, increasing the proportion of employees with reduced working capacity, and increasing the number of professionally active seniors
"Hjem-jobb-hjem" discounted public transport to and from work
as an employee in Norway, you will have access to an optimal health service, as well as good pensions, generous maternity/paternity leave, and a competitive salary. Nursery places are guaranteed and reasonably priced
relocation programme language courses: On this page you can see which language courses you may be entitled to (look up "language courses" under employment conditions)


Being independent, involving and innovative are the university's values. We consider diversity to be a resource in our working and learning environment, and we are keen to show respect for one another's differences and backgrounds. Universal design must characterise of physical and digital learning environment, and the workplace will, if necessary, be facilitated for employees with disabilities.

If you find the position to be interesting, we encourage you to apply, regardless of gender, disability, cultural background or any periods of unemployment.

The university aims to recruit more women into positions as Ph.d Fellowship in the subject area; thus, if several applicants are considered to have equal qualifications, a femal applicant will be given priority over a male.

Contact information

More information on the position can be obtained from Professor Krisztian Balog, tlf: +47 51 83 17 88, e-mail:

Information about the appointment procedure can be obtained from HR-consulent Rosa Andrade, tlf: +47 51 83 11 91, e-post:


To apply for this position please follow the link "Apply for this job". Your application letter, relevant education and work experience as well as language skills must be registered here.

The following documents must be uploaded as attachments to your application:
cover letter explaining the candidate's interest in the project and the relevance of their background and experience . Applications without

a cover letter will not be considered.
CV with a full summary of your education and experience
publications or other relevant research work
references, certificates/diplomas and other documentation that you consider relevant

Please note that applications are only evaluated based on the information available in Jobbnorge at the application deadline. You should ensure that your application shows clearly how your skills and experience meet the criteria which are set out above.

The documentation must be available in either a Scandinavian language or in English. If the total size of the attachments exceeds 30 MB, they must be compressed before upload.

Please note that information on applicants may be published even if the applicant has requested not to be included in the official list of applicants - see Section 25 of the Freedom of Information Act.
UiS only considers applications and attachments registered in Jobbnorge.

General information

The engagement is to be made in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and the acts relating to Control of the Export of Strategic Goods, Services and Technology. Candidates who by assessment of the application and attachment are seen to conflict with the criteria in the latter law will be prohibited from recruitment to UiS.

Employment as Ph.D Fellow is regulated in "Regulations concerning terms and conditions of employment for the posts of post-doctoral research fellow and research fellow, research assistant and resident".
Your qualifications for the position, based on documentation registered in Jobbnorge, will be assessed by an internal expert committee. Based on the committee's statement, relevant applicants will be invited to an interview before any recommendations are made. References will also be
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obtained for relevant candidates. More about the hiring process on our website.
The appointee will be based at the University of Stavanger, with the exception of a stay abroad at a relevant centre of research.

It is a prerequisite that you have a residence which enables you to be present at/available to the academic community during ordinary working hours.

The position has been announced in both Norwegian and English. In the case of differences of meaning between the texts, the Norwegian text takes precedence.

UiS - challenge the well-known and explore the unknown
Jobbnorge ID: 200209, Deadline: Monday, March 15, 2021

In your application, please refer to