PhD Position: Citizen-friendly communication of government data: legal and ethical questions (‘Burgervriendelijke communicatie van overheidsdata: juridische en ethische aspecten’) (0.8-1.0 FTE)

The overall 4-years project, funded within the NWO-MVI scheme (Responsible Innovation), will involve empirical research, using data visualisation techniques, on how different strategies of communicating data by government work, and with which groups of citizens ...

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Warandelaan, Tilburg, Noord-Brabant
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 40 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


Research Project

Governments collect and process large amounts of data. Making it available to citizens is a complex issue, however, partly because of the overlapping regulatory requirements that govern the sharing of these data. Moreover, ‘open government’ practice should involve collecting and making available data about the operation of government itself, but this does not happen on the large scale. It is also becoming clear that the government’s image of ‘the citizen’ is not realistic, making it even more important that the sharing of data by the government is ‘citizen-friendly’. The overall 4-years project, funded within the NWO-MVI scheme (Responsible Innovation), will involve empirical research, using data visualisation techniques, on how different strategies of communicating data by government work, and with which groups of citizens, and how legal frameworks can take account of this.

Job description

The project will also involve PhD research into the ethical and social implications of Dutch government-citizen data sharing. As governments become interested in the use of ‘big’ data, new questions arise with regard to the public-private interface where government data is often produced, the ethical implications of introducing new types and sources of data (such as social media and spatial data) into government-citizen relationships, and the kinds of institutions and frameworks that should guide governmental use and sharing of digital data. This element of the project will involve interdisciplinary qualitative research from the social scientific and ethical perspectives, that will interrogate the politics of governmental data and related processes, and ask how we should determine what is desirable in datafied relations between government and citizens. The aim of the research is ultimately to provide guidance for government administration on data communication beyond traditional legal frameworks.


Institutional embedding

The PhD researcher will be supervised jointly by dr. Linnet Taylor, prof. dr. Anne Meuwese and dr. Johan Wolswinkel. The full project proposal is available on request. You will form part of the academic life of three departments: Public law, Jurisprudence and Legal history (Tilburg Law School), the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology and Society (TILT) and the Tilburg Data Science Center (DSC/t). You will be part of a research group consisting of a postdoctoral researcher on data visualisation and a PhD researcher on sociolegal aspects of governmental data communication.

Research background

  • You are a motivated researcher with interest in the translation of academic insights to society. You are interested in making and keeping contact with governmental and private partners within the research project.
  • You have a Masters degree (or will finish one by September 2017) in the fields of public administration, law, science and technology studies, political science, legal philosophy or a related discipline.
  • You are interested in integrating empirical data with social scientific and/or philosophical research on governmental data ethics.
  • You have experience of, or interest in, data science and administrative law, and are prepared to engage with, and research, these domains during your PhD trajectory.
  • You can demonstrate strong writing skills.
  • Spoken and written fluency in English, with competence in Dutch (or willingness to learn) also preferred.


Tilburg University is rated among the top of Dutch employers and has excellent terms of employment. The total duration of the PhD trajectory is four years (48 months). The candidate will initially be appointed for a fixed period of 16 months. After 12 months, an evaluation will take place. If the performance evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended for the remaining period of 32 months. Selected candidates will be ranked in the Dutch university employment system (UFO). The starting gross salary is € 2222,00 per month (for a full-time appointment) and will raise every 12 months to a maximum of € 2840,00 based on the PhD salary scale of the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) Dutch Universities.


Tilburg Law School

Tilburg Law School (TLS) is a modern and specialized university. With a broad variety of international programmes and innovating research, the Tilburg Law School stands for high quality. Research at the Tilburg Law School is conducted in an organisation that fosters diversity. The Tilburg Graduate Law School is responsible for the training and guidance of its Research Master students and of the Faculty’s PhD researchers. With its open and inspiring atmosphere, this school is a congenial working environment.


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