FAQ's Associate Professor Computational Social Science

By Melinda Mills, Director, Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science

I am at an early / more advanced career stage? Should I apply for this Associate Professor position?

We have some flexibility in the person that we appoint and encourage researchers from various career stages to apply. We are unlikely to consider people who have only very recently finished their PhD for this position.

I already have the title of Professor. Would it be possible to have that title with this position?

Readers likely know this, but at Oxford and Universities across the UK and Europe, the title of Professor denotes a higher rank and is not automatic for all post-doctoral academics as it is often in the United States and Canada. Depending on your experience and background, it is possible to consider the case of providing you with the title of Professor. Professors at the University of Oxford – as elsewhere – must meet well-rounded criteria related to research, teaching and contribution to administrative duties.

Associate professors who are awarded the title of full professor may receive from the University an additional salary payment of £2,804 per annum.

What information do I need to apply and how strict are the length requirements?

See the link below which contains more detailed information on how to apply. Some of you have contacted me and noted that this is quite short. We will allow slightly longer documents and the length provided is just a general indication of our expectations. If you need slightly more or less space, that is fine.

Basically we need:

- a CV including a full list of publications, details of teaching experience and statement of research interests (around 6 pages)

- a covering letter (also referred to as supporting statement) which explains how you meet the criteria set out in the job description, which also clarifies your research interests and plans (around 2 pages). This covering letter/supporting statement should explain how you meet the selection criteria for the post using examples of your skills and experience

- names and contact details of three referees (see the Q&A about referees below)

Can or should I attach the draft syllabi of courses I have taught or articles that I have published?

At this stage, we only require the information that we requested. If you are shortlisted, it may be that we ask for additional material, but not yet at this stage. For your job application, you will be required to upload a statement of research interests, CV and details of referees.

I would only like to obtain the letters from my referees if I am shortlisted. Will that influence my application?

No, it will not. We understand and that is why we have offered this option. You may already include the letters with your initial application if you prefer.

Are these positions open to people of all nationalities and international candidates that currently do not have an EU or UK work permit?

Yes. We are interested in recruiting the best candidates possible from anywhere in the world. If you are shortlisted or eventually offered the position, our dedicated Human Resource and International Visa team would work with you to discuss the next stages and further requirements.

Is there a particular geographical focus of the centre such as the UK or Europe?

No definitely not. We encourage researchers to examine various contexts.

When will I hear if I have been shortlisted and through to the interview for the position?

The closing date is Monday October 12 at 12 Noon and we will shortlist at the end of the following week. Our aim is to contact you early the following week of October the 19th.

When are the interview dates for these positions?

Interviews will be taking place in the week of November 9-13, with dates confirmed very soon.

Will the interviews take place virtually online or in person?

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 travel and other restrictions we have opted to hold the interviews online. If you are shortlisted you will receive more information when you are invited to the interview.

I see that the LCDS researchers sometimes band together as a team and publish articles together, how does that work?

When COVID-19 struck, we decided that we needed to act. This resulted in several early publications including in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Human Behaviour, BMC Medicine and Nature Medicine (with several more on the way!).

This worked in a highly natural, organic and collaborative way with people opting in or out depending upon their expertise and time. With many of us suddenly moved to working remotely, we switched to online meetings, a lot of Slack (complete with absurd gifs), coding, building dashboards, writing, analysing, getting code on GitHub, animating graphics, taking the animation out of graphics, etc. etc.

Many of us have our other autonomous projects and interests, but the Centre has brought us together in this dark period, giving us the strength, relief and the power of collaboration.

The position is within the LCDS but located in the Department of Sociology. Do I have to have a degree or expertise in this discipline? Is it a disadvantage if I do not?

The LCDS is an interdisciplinary centre, branching out and subsuming knowledge from sociology, demography, marketing and business, economics, econometrics, geography, history, genetics, statistics, computer science, environmental studies and beyond. We are grateful to the Department of Sociology and Reuben College for hosting this radical interdisciplinary enterprise but it does not mean that research must exclusively take place within the discipline of sociology. I (Melinda Mills, Director) have a PhD in Demography for instance and in the national research review (called the ‘REF’ in the UK), my research is ‘returned’ to the medical sciences and not sociology.

That being said, it is a permanent position at the Department of Sociology and you should be prepared to offer accessible teaching to those students. The position is funded by the LCDS until 2029 and after that time, you will be supported by the Department of Sociology, who has graciously agreed to match this with funding for a permanent job. See teaching commitments below.

What are the teaching commitments with this position?

Teaching is mainly concentrated into Oxford’s three 8-week teaching terms, making it easy to balance teaching and research. There is considerable flexibility in the organisation of duties and generous sabbatical leave.

The teaching with the Department is to cover some of the Senior Researchers involved in the centre, which is in the area of quantitative and advanced methods, demographic methods, life course research and any new and exciting optional modules you would like to develop. The LCDS also regularly participates and develops summer schools, webinars and in the future an Executive Education programme, in which you would be instrumental.

How much will I teach?

Teaching activities at Oxford are measured in terms of what is called ‘stint units’ to measure teaching and supervision contributions, which for this post are up to a maximum of 288 per year. Within the Department, your stints are divided into teaching and postgraduate student supervision. This means that you would be expected to give around 2 courses per year in addition to postgraduate student supervision. We endeavour to provide our staff with one teaching free semester per year. Our supervising norms may vary but the normal number of supervisees is around 3 to 5 per year.

Teaching is arranged in advance for a longer period of time and calculated and discussed directly with the postholder.

Postholders are also expected to be involved in the running and administration of the Department and hold posts such as Research Director, Taught Course Director, Director of Graduate Studies, or Chair of the Examinations Committee.

The AP would also be an integral member of the management team of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science and is expected to form the life and activities of Reuben College, which are described in the Further Particulars.

Will Brexit affect me or the centre’s funding? Should I be worried about that?

Our 10-year funding until 2029 comes from glorious and flexible Leverhulme Trust and Nuffield College and is therefore not linked to European or national funding agencies.

As most, we are unable to predict how Brexit will develop but I can say that we are certain that our current funding for the next 10 years for this centre will not be influenced. We of course hope that UK-based researchers will continue to be able to fully participate in future ERC and Horizon funding schemes in addition to this funding. We have been very successful with these grants over the years. I (Melinda) had an ERC Consolidator Grant and currently hold an Advanced Grant and Christiaan Monden has an ERC Consolidator Grant. This is in addition to multiple ERC and other grants in the Department. If we do not associate, we are aware that the UK national science council and government have generous options in place for large individual and group grants for researchers.

The University of Oxford and LCDS welcomes researchers of all nationalities from across the world and the Brexit process will not influence this.

Will you have more jobs advertised in the future?

Yes. The current funding for the Centre runs for 10 years until 2029. We do have room for one more Senior / Associate Professor Position and will be advertising that in the coming period.

We also have multiple positions for postdoctoral researchers advertised on a regular basis for independent work within the centre. In the upcoming period, we will also be advertising for a Communications Officer and Data Programming Guru-Type person to assist us. We have a dedicated Centre Manager, Research Officer, Financial and Human Resource Officer which provide excellent support to the Centre.

Do I need to link my research to the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, Reuben College and the Department of Sociology?

Let’s just say if you are not interested in us, we are not interested in you.

The LCDS covers a generous range of topics and disciplines under 7 different themes that cross multiple disciplines. These are: digital and computational science, sociogenomics, environmental context & climate change, inequality & diversity, causal demography, society & sustainability and, ethics, truth and trust. LCDS fits very nicely within the Department of Sociology, which has strengths in teaching and research in the area of demography, family sociology, quantitative methods, sociogenomics and beyond. Reuben College is an exciting new interdisciplinary college that stimulates interdisciplinary research, collaborative working and exchange with three initial clusters of: artificial intelligence and machine learning, environmental change and cellular life.

What does it mean to be affiliated with Reuben College?

For those who are new to Oxford and the Collegiate system, most senior positions have College affiliations. This an opportunity to engage in informal discussions, meetings across disciplines, organising seminars and dining rights. Reuben College is Oxford’s newest college founded in 2020, which is a rare event. It is an ideal fit for this computational and interdisciplinary position. More information about your participation at Reuben College can be found in the detailed Further Particulars of the job. For more information see:

What is the deadline? How do I apply?

The deadline is 12 noon UK time on Monday October 12th 2020 – so you better get busy and finish that application!

More information on the University of Oxford's website:

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