Postdoctoral Researcher Position “Mapping Economics in France” – ISC-PIF

Postdoctoral Researcher 
Institut des Systèmes Complexes, Paris Ile-de-France (ISC-PIF)
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

 

THE ROLE: The Institut des Systèmes Complexes (Institute of Complex Systems, Paris Ile-de- France – ISC-PIF) is looking to recruit a postdoctoral researcher to join the project “Mapping Economics in France”, starting in Spring 2018. The post is funded by a grant from the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF), and is fixed-term for 12 months.

LOCATION: The postholder will be provided with work space at ISC-PIF (113 Rue Nationale, 75013 Paris, France), and will be expected to relocate to Paris (or commuting distance) for the duration of the post. Costs related to relocation or visa applications cannot be covered.

THE INSTITUTE: ISC-PIF is a unit of the National Center for Scientific Research (UPS3611), one of the largest and most prestigious French research organizations. It prides itself on the partnerships it has established with more than a dozen other Universities and French research organizations, as well as with the city of Paris and the Ile-de-France Paris region. This latter has granted ISC-PIF the label of a major research area institution (Domaine d’Intérêt Majeur DIM) since 2006. At the threshold between disciplines, ISC-PIF serves as an intellectual interface between research organizations and higher education institutions. The Complex Systems Institute of Paris (ISC-PIF) is a place dedicated to the development of innovative and interdisciplinary research on complex systems at the crossroad between high performance computing and Big Data. It catalyses, since 2005, the emergence of common and interdisciplinary practices, facilitating access to skills, work areas and pooled research resources. The residents of ISC-PIF, who are staff members and students employed by the institute or by a partner institution, work on projects that are hosted on-site. They are the first contributors to the activities and dynamism of ISC-PIF and the primary pillar to the thriving intellectual scene the institute seeks to shape.

THE PROJECT: The research project contributes to the ISRF’s programme: ‘Reframing the moral foundations of economics’, which responded to the displacement of a social science discipline of economics (Political Economy) by a ‘scientised’ quantification of economic activity. The project’s overall goal is a generally applicable analysis of the relational structures and the normative controversies existing among contemporary economists, to understand how far these determine both the nature of academic economics and economic policy.

Recent controversies over the scientific status of economics in France reveal fundamental intellectual differences with a deep structural determination. To investigate this, in our French case study we will map two complex structures: the social network of economists and the evolving semantic networks emerging from their activity. Our data sources will be (i) texts, in the form of academic publications, policy recommendations and other public documents (ii) recorded affiliations to government institutions, financial and third-sector organizations, and
specific policy domains (health, environment). Within this mapping we will identify both alignments and disagreements between positions of epistemic and moral authority. We will also trace the effect of normative positional choices on the development of contemporary economics in its disciplinary and institutional aspects.

Mapping structural and dynamic complexity requires methods going beyond standard multilevel analyses (Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992). We will employ dynamic and multilevel network analyses (Snijders & Bosker, 2012) and visualization techniques from the “complexity sciences” which combine semantic networks and social networks. Tracing both individual and collective actors’ interdependencies will display their contexts of collective action in terms of relational infrastructures and social processes. We also use semantic indicators as a first, quantitative approach to mapping moral-political controversies.

By showing a coevolution of social ties between leading economists based on flows of resources and of moral-epistemic controversies based on semantic networks, the study will lay out the institutional constraints and formations underlying the current situation in economics in France. It would provide both critical material for curricula of alternative economics, and a critique to inform young economists negotiating the career structure they envisage. Although undertaken as a case study in France (for reasons explained elsewhere) there is potential for a comparative approach with other jurisdictions. Longer-term, if a qualitative approach becomes possible, micro-level work could show how these controversies influence or distort substantive arguments between different intellectual positions (as initially tracked by semantic methods).

RESPONSIBILITIES AND DUTIES: The main task of the postdoctoral researcher will be to develop a series of text mining and web scraping scripts, to collect, parse, clean and merge hundreds of thousands of disaggregated records of bibliometric metadata and social, institutional and organisational affiliation data, using machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) methods. The postholder will have the opportunity to work on several aspects of unstructured data, such as named-entity recognition and probabilistic record-linkage, and is encouraged to develop new methods and apply existing ones in the fields of NLP, machine learning and statistics. The goal is to extract entities and relations from collections of metadata APIs and unstructured text corpora, and to build networks from the relational structures uncovered. The postholder will be required to update progress on a regular basis, as well as maintaining a Github/Dropbox repository related to the project. They will also have to write a short note on the technical details of the code, and comment their libraries extensively. The post holder will be supervised by the Principal Investigator, Dr Paulo M Serôdio, with the support and advice of Professors Emmanuel Lazega and David Chavalarias. Towards the end of the project, the successful candidate will be required to present an overview of their work at a workshop funded by the grant.

SELECTION CRITERIA – ESSENTIAL

  • Strong familiarity with a general purpose (data-)scientific programming language which is appropriate for the work at hand – with a strong preference for Python or R (experience with Apache Spark is a plus).
  • Experience of working with relevant database structures, such as SQL.
  • Experience with web-scraping, machine learning and natural language processing methods.
  • Knowledge of English as a working language
  • A first degree in relevant field (computer science, statistics, engineering, physics, bio-medical, economics).

SELECTION CRITERIA – DESIRED

  • Previous experience/success in an existing data science project, with a measurable outcome.
  • Knowledge of the institutional and academic environment of Economics in France
  • A postgraduate degree in relevant field (computer science, statistics, engineering,physics, bio-medical, economics, etc.)

In addition to demonstrating the skills and experience outlined above, the postholder should have the ability to interact with people across partner institutions and international collaborators involved in the project, as well as excellent verbal and communication skills, the ability to work with minimal supervision and to work towards deadlines.

HOW TO APPLY:

To apply for this position, please email your CV, cover letter, one piece of written work (a recent dissertation, essay, piece of coursework or published/working paper in a relevant area would be appropriate) and the details of two referees to Dr Paulo Serodio PI, ‘Mapping Economics in France’) at paulo.serodio@sociology.ox.ac.uk.

For informal enquiries about the post please contact the PI Dr Paulo Serôdio, at paulo.serodio@sociology.ox.ac.uk.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to Stuart Wilson, of the Independent Social Research Foundation, at stuart.wilson@isrf.org.