Netherlands: Postdoc Researcher in Discourse Processing at Utrecht University

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Job description

The department of Languages, Literature and Communication houses a group whose research focuses on machine translation of discourse phenomena. It will be starting the MODERN SNSF project on the modeling of inter-sentential dependencies (connectives and referential expressions) to improve the output of machine translation systems. Researchers involved include Ted Sanders, Arnout Koornneef and Sandrine Zufferey.


The goal of the postdoc-project is to investigate the interaction between two crucial mechanisms in discourse processing: coherence relations realized by discourse connectives (causal, contrastive, additive) and pronoun resolution. The focus will be placed on both theory and experimental validation. As a postdoc you will design eye-tracking and text comprehension experiments in order to investigate the quality of machine translated texts. You will collaborate closely with a Ph.D. student working on the annotation of such phenomena in corpora of natural language discourse.


You have received a PhD in linguistics or psycholinguistics.You must have experience with eye-tracking. Excellent demonstrable command of English as well as either French, German or Dutch is required. Previous experience in natural language processing and translation is a plus.

Conditions of employment

The position is offered for an initial period of 1 year, 0.9 FTE, to be extended by another 1 year (0.9 FTE) upon positive evaluation. Depending on your knowledge and experience, your monthly gross salary will range between € 3,037.- and € 3,259 (scale 10 according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) based on a full-time basis.


We offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities. The appointment will start as soon as the necessary work permits and documents are obtained, with a target starting date of March 1st, 2014. More information: terms of employment.



Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Sustainability, Life Sciences, Youth & Identity, and Institutions. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues.
The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 900 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context.
The faculty is divided into four departments, which includes the Department of Languages, Literature and Communication. This department with its two Schools monitors bachelor education and master programmes in the areas of Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Celtic as well as Linguistics and Literary Studies. The research programmes in these areas are carried out under the supervision of either the Research Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) or the Utrecht Institute of Linguistics (Uil OTS). The Utrecht Institute of Linguistics (UiL OTS) is one of Europe’s leading departments of linguistics.


The enthusiastic and motivated colleagues and the excellent facilities in the historic town centre of Utrecht, where the Faculty is located, provide a stimulating professional atmosphere. Moreover, Utrecht University offers attractive terms of employment.

Additional information

Informal inquiries can be addressed to Prof. Ted Sanders (, Dr. Sandrine Zufferey ( or Dr Maaike Schoorlemmer (

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