DC6: Detection of toxic bots in Twitter by analysing textual content

Open Doctoral Candidate/PhD Position at University of Caen Normandy (UNICAEN), France, for the HYBRIDS project


Reference number: HYBRIDS- DC6

PhD research topic: Detection of toxic bots in Twitter by analysing textual content

Host institution: University of Caen Normandy (UNICAEN), France.

PhD Enrolment: University of Caen Normandy (UNICAEN), France

Main Supervisor: Dr. Gaël Dias, University of Caen Normandy (UNICAEN), gael.dias@unicaen.fr

Co-supervisor: Dr. Berta Garcia Orosa, University of Santiago de Compostela (USC)

Inter-sectoral Supervisors:

  • Dr. José Ramon Pichel, Factoría Software e Multimedia (IMAXIN)
  • Mr. Ettore Di Cesare, Fondazione OPENPOLIS.


  1. To design and develop classification strategies to detect AI-generated texts applied to detect different types of political bots that are able to influence election campaigns;
  2. To crawl and scrape Twitter data for a specific campaign and for a specific period;
  3. To analyse the linguistic content and relevant features of the messages sent by bots by focusing on main topics, extreme opinions, language patterns, etc.
  4. To make a deep taxonomy of bots by considering different aspects, such as their aims, attitudes, linguistic register, or topics.

Expected outcomes:

  1. Development of a system for bot detection and classification.
  2. Creation of a benchmark dataset related to a specific election campaign, provided with fine-grained annotations of different types of bots.
  3. Evaluation of the classification system by making use of the knowledge (not only the previously created dataset) acquired from the analysis.
  4. Application on use cases related to European questions (Brexit and Euroscepticism), immigration, and climate emergency, as well as domestic political elections.

Planned secondments:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Mobility: At the time of recruitment, the researcher must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in France for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before the recruitment date. Time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention or compulsory national service are not taken into account.
  • The candidate must be at the date of recruitment a doctoral candidate (i.e. not already in possession of doctoral degree). Researchers who have successfully defended their doctoral thesis but who have not yet formally been awarded the doctoral degree will not be considered eligible.
  • The candidate must agree to work exclusively for the action.

Specific requirements:

  • Degree: Master degree in Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, or any related field.
  • Programming skills: Python, Pytorch, Tensorflow, Scikit-learn, specific libraries (numpy, matplotlib, hugging face, etc.)
  • Language: Excellent command of English, together with good academic writing and presentation skills.

Desirable skills:The successful candidate should demonstrate strong knowledge in deep learning, statistical learning and natural language processing. Knowledge in graph theory and computational linguistics are also interesting assets.

Estimated starting date: 1st July 2023

Contract: Full-time contract

Duration: 36 months, including 4 secondments of 2/3 months each, at other consortium members’ premises (see Secondment section)

Salary: In accordance with the French national law regulation, the monthly gross salary will be of approx. 3,367 € (including mobility allowance and social contribution minus employer contribution). In addition to that, a family allowance will be offered depending on the eligibility of the candidate personal situation.

Application Documents:

  • Europass CV (template available in the following link), including the names and contact details of two academic references, in English, highlighting the merits that are established as evaluation criteria;
  • Scans of Bachelor’s and Master’s transcripts, with certified translation in English (if the degree qualification is not in English); If you have not yet completed your master’s, you must submit a provisional academic transcript.
  • A motivation letter in English, highlighting the consistency between your profile and the chosen DC position/s for which you are applying and describing why you wish to be aHYBRIDS Doctoral Candidate to carry out a PhD; (max. 700 words)
  • Scanned copy of your ID card, resident’s card or passport currently in force;
  • Proof of excellent command of English (e.g., IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge or equivalent). This is not required in case you are a native English speaker (i.e., English is your mother tongue).

In addition, you can add any other documents which you find relevant for the applications such as Master thesis, publications or project reports.

Evaluation criteria:

  • Academic background (up to 40 points)
  • Knowledge and specific achievements (up to 35 points)
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview in which the selection committee will assess the applicant’s communication skills, initiative, and motivation to pursue a PhD. (up to 25 points)

Deadline: April 26, 2023, at 23h59 CET (UCT + 01:00)


Candidates are encouraged to contact the HYBRIDS Project Manager (info@hybridsproject.eu) for assistance or for any information related to the application process. When contacting, please indicate the position reference in the subject line.

Enquiries about research content must be sent to the main PhD supervisor via email (see contact details in Supervisors section).