MSR New England is Hiring a Social Media Postdoc

The Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for a social media postdoctoral researcher (start date: 1 July, 2015). This position is an ideal opportunity for a scholar whose work draws on anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, and/or science and technology studies to bring empirical and critical perspectives to complex socio-technical issues. Application deadline: Monday 3 November, 2014.

Microsoft Research provides a vibrant multidisciplinary research environment with an open publications policy and close links to top academic institutions around the world. Postdoctoral researcher positions provide emerging scholars (PhDs received in 2014 or to be conferred by July 2015) an opportunity to develop their research career and to interact with some of the top minds in the research community. Postdoctoral researchers are invited to define their own research agenda and demonstrate their ability to drive forward an effective program of research. Successful candidates will have a well-established research track record as demonstrated by journal publications and conference papers, as well as participation on program committees, editorial boards, and advisory panels. The position offers the potential to have research realized in products and services that will be used world-wide.

Postdoctoral researchers receive a competitive salary and benefits package, and are eligible for relocation expenses.  Postdoctoral researchers are hired for a two-year term appointment following the academic calendar, starting in July 2015. Applicants must have completed the requirements for a PhD, including submission of their dissertation, prior to joining Microsoft Research. We do accept applicants with tenure-track job offers from other institutions so long as they are able to negotiate deferring their start date to accept our position.

While each of the Microsoft Research labs has openings in a variety of different disciplines, this position with the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England is especially interested in identifying social science/humanities candidates with critical approaches to their topics. SMC postdocs are based at Microsoft Research New England (located in Cambridge, MA) and enjoy opportunities to visit and collaborate with our sister Social Media Collective members in the New York City Lab.

Qualifications include a strong academic record in anthropology, communication, media studies, sociology, science and technology studies, or a related field. The ideal candidate may be trained in any number of disciplines, but should have a strong social scientific or humanistic methodological, analytical, and theoretical foundation, be interested in questions related to technology or the internet and society or culture, and be interested in working in a highly interdisciplinary environment that includes computer scientists, mathematicians, and economists.

The Social Media Collective is comprised of full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, PhD interns, and research assistants. Our current projects include:

– How does the use of social media affect relationships between artists and audiences in creative industries and what does that tell us about the future of work? (Nancy Baym)

– What are the cultural, political, and economic implications of crowdsourcing as a new form of semi-automated, globally-distributed digital labor? (Mary L. Gray)

– What are the social and political consequences of popular computing folklore? (Kevin Driscoll)

– How do online technologies shape countercultures and communities of alterity? (Jessa Lingel)

– What are the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development? (danah boyd)

– What are the politics, ethics and policy implications of big data science? (Kate Crawford)

To apply for a postdoc position at MSRNE:

Submit an online application here.

– Indicate that your research area of interest is “Anthropology, Communication, Media Studies, and Sociology” and that your location preference is “New England, MA, U.S.”

– In addition to the CV and names of three referees (including your dissertation advisor) that the online application will require you to include, upload the following 3 attachments with your online application:

  1. two journal articles, book chapters, or equivalent writing samples (uploaded as 2 separate attachments);
  2. a single research statement (four page maximum length) that does the following: outlines the questions and methodologies central to your research agenda (~two page maximum length); provides an abstract and chapter outline of your dissertation (~one page maximum length); offers a description of how your research agenda relates to research conducted by the social media collective (~one page maximum length)

After you submit your application, a request for letters will be sent to your list of referees on your behalf. You can check the status of progress on individual reference requests at any time by clicking the status tab within your application page. Note that a complete application includes three submitted letters of reference.

THE APPLICATION SYSTEM WILL NOT REQUEST REFERENCE LETTERS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE SUBMITTED YOUR APPLICATION! Please warn your letter writers in advance so that they will be ready to submit them when they receive the prompt. The email they receive will automatically tell them they have two weeks to respond but that an individual call for applicants may have an earlier deadline. Please ensure that they expect this and are prepared to submit your letter by the deadline. Please make sure to check back with your referees if you have any questions about the status of your requested letters of recommendation.

For more information, see here.

Feel free to ask questions about the position in the comments below.

17 thoughts on “MSR New England is Hiring a Social Media Postdoc

  1. Nasrine Olson


    Can you please let me know how to interpret the following sentence which is copied from the instructions above:

    “Postdoctoral researcher positions provide emerging scholars (PhDs received in 2014 or to be conferred by July 2015) an opportunity to develop their research career and to interact with some of the top minds in the research community.”

    Does this mean that the call is only open to “emerging scholars (PhDs received in 2014 or to be conferred by July 2015)”, or can others who have achieved their PhD earlier also apply?

    With many thanks,


  2. Hello Nasrine, Your first interpretation is correct. Although we know there are many great scholars with Ph.D.s earned before 2014, this position is specifically for people who received Ph.D.s in 2014 or 2015 (before July).

  3. Karin


    The instruction says: “SMC postdocs are based at Microsoft Research New England (located in Cambridge, MA) and enjoy opportunities to visit and collaborate with our sister Social Media Collective members in the New York City Lab.”

    As I just relocated my family to NY, I wonder if it is it possible to work part time in NY or on distance, at least during the first half year?

    Best regards, Karin

    1. Hi Karin, The position is based in New England and the postdoc is expected to work in the New England lab, so no, splitting it between New England and New York City is not a possibility.

      1. Karin

        To bad, it sounds like a great position. Are you suppose to be in the lab full time, or is it possible to be there a couple of days a week?

  4. The expectation is that you are in the lab full time, yes. The hours are flexible and people certainly travel for conferences and the like, but missing several days a week is not feasible.

  5. Dear Nancy,

    As I’m French PHD student in sociology, I’m wondering about international applicants : Is it possible for me to apply and, if yes, do I need additional documents in my application?

    Second question : I’m not sure of my PhD timetable, so I’m wondering about the frequency of Post-doc position opening. Is there a regular annual call for application ?

    Last one : As I read your (interesting!) various projects’ topics, I’m wondering if, in my application, I have to select one (or two) and then explain their links with my own agenda ?

    In advance, thank you for your help!



    1. Hi Matthieu (and others),

      (1) Yes, international applicants are welcome to apply for this position so long as there is nothing that would prevent their getting a visa to work in the US (you do not need to have one already).

      (2) This is an annual call, so if you are not going to be done with the Ph.D. by July 2015, it will come around again next year.

      (3) You do not have to specify links to particular topics we list, we are more interested in how you see your fit with the group as a whole. If you see that connection as being strongest to one or a few of the topics we list, you can certainly tell us about that.

  6. Dear Nancy,

    I wonder if the applicants are also expected to outline a proposal for their post-doctoral research in their research statements.

    Best regards,

  7. Patrick


    Would your department consider and application If one’s phd would be done by July 1st in all but official recognition from graduate school alone. Our department is such that many students defend in April or May but cannot graduate until August due to graduate school deadlines.


    1. So long as you have completed the requirements for the Ph.D. it is not a problem if the degree itself is not officially awarded until August (or whenever the soonest awarding date after completion is)

  8. Tamara

    Just a quick, possibly silly question about the research statement. Is the maximum length 4 single-spaced or double-spaced pages? Thanks!

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