Recent Posts

Featured Posts

Vacancy for researcher in linguistics and argumentation theory last updated April 23, 2021 by chris

Vacancy for researcher in linguistics and argumentation theory

Vacancy for Researcher in Linguistics & Argumentation Theory
Fixed Term 30 Months
Grade 7 (£32,817 – £40,322)

The Centre for Argument Technology at the University of Dundee in Scotland is looking to appoint a postdoctoral researcher in linguistics and argumentation theory to contribute to work on a new project in partnership with the University of Potsdam and the United Nations exploring conflict at UN Security Council meetings.

This appointment will be in the Centre for Argument Technology ( in Computing within the School of Science and Engineering. Centre for Argument Technology ARG-tech is one of the world’s leading research groups in the computational application of theories of argument. As an interdisciplinary team, we focus on developing foundational theory in philosophy, linguistics and cognitive science that facilitates the development of practical AI applications. The goal is to help improve, teach, track and navigate the discussions and debates that run our governments, structure scientific research, underpin the corporate boardroom, drive legal process and frame religious beliefs. Our research has attracted funding of over £8m, and we have over 200 refereed papers in print. Our freely available software tools such as OVA (for performing argument analysis) have tens of thousands of users, we have pioneered robust new standards such as the AIF and we have the largest freely accessible corpus of analysed argumentation anywhere in the world in AIFdb. The group also hosted the editorial office for the journal Argument and Computation from its inception in 2010 until 2016. Our collaborations and consultancy with commercial and government organisations including IBM, DSTL and the BBC have driven our focus on end-user impact, and our public communication in print and broadcast media has reached over 30 million people.

The University of Dundee aims to transform lives locally and globally through the creation, sharing and application of knowledge. Dundee is ranked 4th in the UK (2nd in Scotland) for student satisfaction in 2019, 20th in the World (4th in the UK) in the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, 14th in the World for the highest proportion of highly cited publications in the 2019 CWTS Leiden Rankings, and 84th in the World for research quality in the Nature Index 2019. The University is a diverse community and is committed to equality of opportunity for all by providing a supportive, flexible and inclusive working environment. We have family-friendly policies (including flexible working and childcare vouchers), staff groups for LGBT+ and BME, and prayer room facilities. The University and the School of Science and Engineering hold Athena SWAN Bronze Awards, which recognise the promotion of gender equality, and have made further commitments to advancing an inclusive culture that supports and encourages all under-represented groups.

The City of Dundee is a post-industrial city that has worked hard to reinvent itself. With a population of 150,000, it is small enough to walk round but has all the cultural and leisure activities you would expect in a much larger city. Excellent shopping sits side-by-side with a vibrant cultural quarter, home to Scotland’s award-winning Dundee Rep Theatre and the highly acclaimed Dundee Contemporary Arts, which has become a lively social hub and film house as well as a champion of leading-edge arts. Dundee is the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design and, with the opening of the new V&A Museum of Design – an iconic building designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, it has a growing reputation as a creative centre. Dundee was placed by the Wall Street Journal among their top ten places to visit in 2018, and 1st in Scotland in the Sunday Times 2019 Best Place to Live Guide. Salaries in Dundee currently go further on the property ladder than almost any other city in the UK. The range of properties within commuting distance of the University covers the widest spectrum – from country houses and seaside cottages to handsome town villas and sleek city-quay apartments.

Role Information
We are seeking to appoint an outstanding researcher in linguistics & argumentation theory. We welcome applications from everyone irrespective of gender or ethnic group. We particularly encourage applications from women and members of ethnic minorities as they are currently under-represented in posts at this level. As a global university, we are interested in attracting candidates working in all parts of the world and can offer relocation support. The Centre for Argument Technology is a highly interdisciplinary environment, and candidates should be willing to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

COVID-19 has introduced new ways of working, and it is expected that the post will involve a ‘soft start’ of working primarily from home, wherever in the world that may be. Candidates must expect to be available for meetings during working hours in the UK. As restrictions are relaxed, candidates would then be expected to relocate to Dundee.

Project Summary
Conflict is inherently dynamic. Positions morph, contexts change, factions and allegiances realign, and even when everything else appears to be in stasis, there is change in the language used to express conflict – in the framings and nuances and emotions. Our aim is to understand this dynamism and to test that understanding at scale. We will develop novel, integrative theory and then apply that theory both to understand ways in which conflict is presented linguistically and also how it evolves, not just in terms of its underlying positions but also in its presentation. We eschew domain- or theme-specific conflict, and instead site our study within the foremost venue for conflict of the highest level and greatest import: the UN Security Council. Rather than focus on a single issue or region or period of the Security Council, our goal is to work with the entirety of its activity in which significant conflict is presented: a dataset of almost one million words. Across the 25 years of almost daily meetings, our techniques will offer insight both to geopolitical analysts and to the general public into how conflicts at the Council emerge and evolve, combining analysis of local discourse features such as vagueness and emotionality with structural features such as justification-giving and patterns of reasoning, and finally considering how positions in conflict are framed. Across all of these aspects there are interacting dynamics, which our theory of conflict trajectories aims to understand so that it will become possible for the first time to map the language of conflict simultaneously in great detail and at very large scale. This is the first time that the techniques of big data have driven the study of the language of conflict. Though we will bring such computational techniques to bear, our focus is on delivering the foundational theory, the analytical techniques and the dataset resources that can subsequently underpin future computational research and indeed into applied innovation delivering value for scholars of political science, international relations and as well as for professionals working in diplomacy and geopolitical analysis and ultimately the general public.
This research project is funded by AHRC in the UK and DFG in Germany, and is a collaboration with the University of Potsdam.

Key responsibilities
To explore the role of linguistic features such as emotionality and vagueness in the discourse of conflict
To extend existing theories of language and argument structure to account for phenomena such as reframing
To build theoretical models of conflict that capture longitudinal shifts in geopolitical conflict, including shifting positions, increasing consensus and dissensus, resolution and accommodation
To work with computational scientists to operationalise these models
To communicate the results of the work to academic, professional and public audiences

Person specification
Essential knowledge and skills. The following experience is essential:
A PhD in the philosophy of argument, in conversation or linguistic analysis, in conflict studies or in a closely related area
Experience of analytical techniques for language
Understanding of theories of language, argument, debate or conflict

Desirable knowledge and skills. The following experience would be advantageous though not essential:
working with models of the structure of argument or debate
working with models of dialogue and communicative interaction
exposure to computational models for language processing
exposure to argument technology

Appointment will be made to Grade 7 (currently £32,817 – £40,322). Start date by negotiation.

Application Requirements
Cover letter to Prof. Chris Reed, Director of the Centre for Argument Technology, outlining suitability for the role, plus CV with publication list. Apply online at Contact

Closing date 14 May 2021