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Dear colleagues,

Applications are invited for a fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentship at 
University of Exeter. The funding includes fees and a generous stipend 
of £14.8k per annum. Details are available here:

The closing date for applications is 8th March 2018. Please share 
responsibly with interested individuals and mailing lists.



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        Online (mis)information and climate change: Using network
        analysis and machine learning to understand environmental debate

Despite widespread scientific consensus, climate change remains a 
controversial and politicised topic. On one side, environmentalists push 
for greater action to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate 
change. On the other, a well-funded climate denial lobby promote doubt 
and confuse public opinion. This debate is actively pursued in online 
news and social media, where denialist blogs and commentators attempt to 
discredit the scientific viewpoint with a steady stream of contrarian 
articles and social media posts. Since climate change is a complex 
subject, there is significant potential for misinformation. So-called 
“fake news” has been much discussed in the context of politics, while, 
automated “bots” and managed social media accounts are known to affect 
online debates.

This PhD project will apply advanced computational methods to understand 
the online media ecosystem around climate change. In particular, it will 
seek to characterise the role of misinformation in online climate 
debates, looking in particular at social media accounts, bots and fake 
news sites linked to the climate denial viewpoint. Within this topic 
area there is considerable scope for the student to shape the project 
towards their own interests. The methods utilised will depend on the 
exact research question chosen, but are likely to combine complex 
network analysis, machine learning and text mining.

The project will suit a motivated student with a strong quantitative 
background (e.g. computer science, mathematics, physics) and an interest 
in how the Web is changing our society. The student will be part of the 
newly formed Institute for Data Science & Artificial Intelligence at 
University of Exeter, which has recently joined the Alan Turing 
Institute. The project offers exceptional opportunities for future 
employment in academic or commercial data science.

Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Hywel Williams 
([log in to unmask]) for further information.

Dr Hywel T P Williams
College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences
University of Exeter, UK
Room: Laver 722        Phone: +44 1392 723777
Office hours: Tuesday 2-3pm

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