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Ph.D Fellowship in Language Modeling for Explainable AI

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The University of Stavanger invites applicants for a PhD 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 for accession as soon as possible.

This is a trainee position that will give promising researchers an opportunity for academic development through a PhD education leading to a doctoral degree.
The hired candidate will be admitted to the PhD program in Science and Technology. The education includes relevant courses to about six months of study, a dissertation based on independent research, participation in national and international research environments, relevant academic communication, a trial lecture and public defence. Read more about the PhD education at UiS on our website.
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.

Stavanger is located on the southwestern coast of Norway, in the Norwegian fjord region, offering some of the most majestic and spectacular scenery in the world. At the same time, the city is within easy access with a well-developed infrastructure for both national and international travelers.
Over the past years, the University of Stavanger has acquired a strong reputation for research in AI and information retrieval. UiS hosted the 10th International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval (ICTIR'20) and will host the 44th European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR'22).
We also have ongoing collaborations with top industry players, both nationally and internationally. 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.
We offer competitive salary and excellent work-life balance.

Project proposal
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.


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 fall of 2021, you are also welcome to apply.
Applicants with an education from an institution with a different grade scale than A-F, and/or with other types of credits than sp/ECTS, must attach a confirmed conversion scale that shows how the grades can be compared with the Norwegian A-F scale and a Diploma Supplement or similar that explains the scope of the subject that are included in the education. 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
  • 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 PhD 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
  • Applicants with a completed bachelor's and / or master's degrees taught in English in a EU/EEA country

We offer

  • a PhD education 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 position
  • salary in accordance with the State Salary Scale, l.pl 17.515, code 1017, NOK 491 200 gross per year with salary development according to seniority in the position. A higher salary may be considered in special cases.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)


University of Stavanger values independence, involvement and innovation. Diversity is respected and considered a resource in our work and learning environment. Universal design characterises physical and digital learning environments, and we strive to provide reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities.
You are encouraged to apply regardless of gender, disability or cultural background.The university aims to recruit more women within the subject area. If several applicants are considered to have equal qualifications, female applicants will be given priority.

Kjell Arholms gate 41, 4021 Stavanger, Noorwegen