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PhD Candidate: Research Integrity and Validity

We are looking for a PhD candidate to carry out a research project on the concept of validity in the natural sciences. The notion of validity plays a central …

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Houtlaan, Nijmegen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2972 - € 2972 per maand


We are looking for a PhD candidate to carry out a research project on the concept of validity in the natural sciences. The notion of validity plays a central role in debates regarding the replicability of scientific results. Concerned biomedical researchers, for example, have been raising the alarm about unreliable, misidentified, invalid or insufficiently standardised research materials. Cell lines, antibodies or test animals are among the research materials these scientists hope to stabilise via ever more detailed protocols, enforced through funders such as NIH or prominent research journals. However, to what extent researchers’ behaviour can be changed through regulations remains to be seen. At the same time, there are worries about whether increased standardisation sacrifices external validity and robustness of findings in favour of stable and reproducible results. In these debates, technical and normative concerns are intertwined with epistemological and sociological issues.

The PhD project aims at clarifying the current debates by an interdisciplinary study of the concept of validity, using both sociological and philosophical approaches, corresponding with the variety of expertise present in the Institute for Science in Society (ISiS). The central research questions of the project are: What is validity? How can or should it be understood? What different taxonomies of validity circulate in different fields of research and why? How is the validity of research materials guaranteed in practice? With these issues, fascinating theoretical questions in social studies of science, philosophy of science, and ethics combine directly with vital concerns in the natural sciences, and offer exciting opportunities for cooperation with practising scientists. The project is interdisciplinary, and will accordingly employ a combination of theoretical and empirical methods, drawing on social studies of science, philosophy of science, and research ethics. Depending on the background and expertise of the PhD candidate, case studies from specific scientific disciplines will be selected.


  • You have a Master’s degree in life sciences and/or in science and society, science studies, philosophy of science, or a related field.
  • You have an affinity for meta-questions about science, connecting the practical organisation of science with the epistemology and ethics of science.
  • You feel comfortable with highly interdisciplinary work and should be able to quickly familiarise yourself with exisiting research.
  • You have some experience with qualitative empirical social science.
  • You have excellent communication skills and the willingness to work in a dynamic, international research team.
  • You are creative, have an analytical mindset, and have a strong motivation to work at the forefront of science.
  • You are proficient in written and spoken English.


  • Employment: 32 - 40 hours per week.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,325 per month, and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year (p scale)
  • In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • Duration of the contract: you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years.
  • The intended start date is 1 September 2020.
  • You will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service: our Dual Career Officer will assist with family-related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.
  • Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Prof.dr. Henk de Regt, Professor
Email: henk.deregt@ru.nl

Dr. Willem Halffman, Associate Professor
Email: w.halffman@science.ru.nl