DOCTORATE IN IRTIS

No description

Interdisciplinary Research on Internet and Society (IRTIS) is a research institute at the Faculty of Social Studies of Masaryk University. Through social science research, we aim to advance the understanding of online phenomena and information and communication technologies (ICTs) in general - how people use them and how they affect our lives. To do so, we draw on expertise from psychology, media studies, sociology, computer science, and other disciplines. We also work closely with other experts at MUNI and other European universities (e.g., LSE, Leuven University, University of Vienna). Check the "About Us" page to learn more about IRTIS.

Ph.D. students are an integral part of IRTIS, and we treat them as equal team members. In collaboration with their mentors and colleagues, Ph.D. students actively design and implement studies, analyze data, and publish scientific articles. They are also expected to present at conferences, engage with the scientific community, and develop their research skills.

This text is for anyone considering applying for a Ph.D. position and interested in social scientific research of ICTs usage. We introduce what you can expect from a doctorate in IRTIS, what we can offer you, and who to contact if you want to join us as a Ph.D. student.

Who can be your Ph.D. supervisor, and in which fields?

IRTIS strives to connect the social science perspective with informatics. We welcome Ph.D. students interested in this area with a background in relevant disciplines. Currently, David Šmahel, Hana Macháčková, and Lenka Dědková can supervise Ph.D. students.

David Šmahel

David Šmahel can be a supervisor at the Faculty of Social Studies (Department of Media Studies and Journalism, Department of Psychology) and the Faculty of Informatics (Computer Science program).

Topics:

  • impacts of ICT use on well-being
  • health and digital technologies (eHealth and mHealth applications)
  • online risks, user safety
  • Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI)
  • use of intensive and objective data in research (EMA and ESM designs)
  • use of machine learning in social sciences
  • risks of AI

Contact: smahel@fss.muni.cz

Hana Macháčková

Hana Macháčková can be a supervisor at the Faculty of Social Studies (Department of Psychology, Department of Media Studies and Journalism).

Topics:

  • online aggression
  • the credibility of online information
  • anonymity on the internet
  • online communities
  • experimental designs

Contact: hmachack@fss.muni.cz

Lenka Dědková

Lenka Dědková can be a supervisor at the Faculty of Social Studies (Department of Psychology, Department of Media Studies and Journalism).

Topics:

  • ICT and parenting (parental mediation, digital parenting, use of ICT in the family context, etc.).
  • Lenka is currently looking for a new student for this topic - more HERE (CZ)
  • online relationships, online communication
  • social networks, internet, and psychosocial well-being

Contact: ldedkova@fss.muni.cz

Formal aspects of Ph.D. studies at Masaryk University

For more information about admissions, tuition, the requirements of Ph.D. programs, and a guide, check out the website of the faculty you want to apply to:

Faculty of Social Studies (FSS): https://www.fss.muni.cz/en/faculty-of-social-studies/admissions/doctoral-studies

Faculty of Informatics (FI): https://www.fi.muni.cz/admission/doctoral/index.html.en

If you are a master's student at FSS MUNI (Psychology and Media Studies) or FI MUNI, we can start working together earlier. You can write a thesis on a topic related to ICTs with an advisor from IRTIS (in case of thematic overlap, we can also offer our data) and thus test the cooperation with us.

What does the Ph.D. program in IRTIS look like?

In IRTIS, junior researchers/Ph.D. students are just as important as their senior colleagues. We believe that systematic, long-term support and mentoring are essential for those who are at the beginning of their research careers. That is why we strive to create a friendly and supportive environment and provide our early career researchers with the best opportunities to develop their scientific skills. In IRTIS, we understand a Ph.D. program as a full-time collaboration in terms of both the funding we provide and the expected workload. This includes working on your research topic and contributing to other research activities at IRTIS.

What you can expect and what we can offer you:

A full-time Ph.D. – an opportunity to pursue science and get a decent salary

Developing scientific competence takes time and concentrated effort. We believe this is best achieved when Ph.D. students work on their research full-time. Doctoral students at IRTIS typically combine a Ph.D. scholarship with a part-time contract on one of our research projects. The work on the doctorate and other research activities (which are usually closely linked) should correspond to a full-time position in terms of workload and salary.

In Czechia, a significant change in the funding of doctoral studies is being prepared. Therefore, it is unclear what the Ph.D. scholarship will be in 2025 and onward (in 2023, it is 12,000 CZK/month netto). Regardless of these changes, the combined base rate (i.e., Ph.D. scholarship + IRTIS salary) for starting junior researchers is between 32,000 and 35,000 CZK per month (possibly more, depending on the change in the law). Throughout the Ph.D. studies, the salary increases with respect to performance.

In addition to the basic salary, IRTIS also provides a comprehensive bonus scheme. The bonuses are primarily based on the researcher's experience, participation in research projects, and publication and popularization activities. Doctoral students are eligible for the same bonuses as their IRTIS colleagues, i.e.:

  • semi-annual bonus for good job performance (cumulative rewards for the work in the last six months, linked to regular semi-annual evaluations)
  • bonuses for specific outputs or milestones, e.g., published scientific articles, media appearances
  • funding for foreign business trips, international conferences, educational activities

All of this allows early career researchers to focus entirely on their research career without having to seek additional funding through projects or another job unrelated to their Ph.D. studies. However, it also means that remote work is not possible - we expect researchers to be present at the workplace (home office is possible, but not as the primary way of working). Similarly, combining a Ph.D. at IRTIS with another job (e.g., a part-time clinical practice) is very difficult.

Conducting research and getting involved in interesting projects

We place a strong emphasis on teaching junior researchers how to conduct social science research:

  • from initial study design and preregistration, selecting measures, piloting the research, and communicating with the research agency or participants
  • to collecting, cleaning, and analyzing data
  • and finally, writing up the results in the form of peer-reviewed studies, research reports, and popularizations.

Junior researchers do not play the role of passive helpers. Together with their mentors, they actively participate in all phases of a research projectDuring their doctoral studies, junior researchers systematically develop their dissertation topic. The topic should fit into our ongoing or planned projects, allowing us to provide support, stability, and collaboration opportunities. At IRTIS, we have ample experience with diverse research designs and national and international projects. For example, we received funding for our large national project Modeling the FUTURE: Understanding impact of technology on adolescents' well-being (2019-2023). This complex project covers/covered theory development and integration, cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys, experimental studies, and innovative types of data collection using a research app. On the international level, we are part of the EU Kids Online network, and we are involved in international projects CO:RE – Children Online: Research and Evidence and ySKILLS – Youth Digital Skills. As a result, we closely collaborate with top researchers from around the world (e.g., Sonia Livingstone, Anke Görzig, Hajo Boomgarden, Giovanna Mascheroni, Kaveri Subrahmanyam, Sy-Miin Chow), and our junior researchers can draw also on their expertise and experience.

Communicating science - publications, conferences, and popularizations

One of the main objectives of the Ph.D. program is mastering effective communication of new findings to other researchers through scientific articles. Our junior researchers are encouraged to lead studies, write first-author articles, and publish them in high-quality scientific journals. We know that conducting and writing your own study is not easy. Therefore, you will have the support of mentors from IRTIS and abroad. They will actively collaborate on the study and help you improve your academic writing and navigate the publishing process. We know this process not only as researchers but also "from the other side." We publish a peer-reviewed journal, Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace. Thus, we can also share our experience as reviewers and editors. Some of our Ph.D. students are actively involved in the journal's operations.

Our Ph.D. students also present at international conferences (see, for example, presentations from the ECREA conference in Denmark). We support conference participation financially and help select a conference, write an abstract, and prepare the presentation/poster. IRTIS co-organizes the international interdisciplinary conference Cyberspace, which is regularly held in Brno.

Lastly, we recognize the importance of communicating our results to the broader public. At IRTIS, we produce research reports and support our members in popularization activities, e.g., drafting press releases, media appearances, public lectures, or preparing blog posts for the IRTIS website (see, e.g., Why do Czech adolescents come face to face with people from the internet? or see IRTIS in the media - CZ).

We encourage self-development

Ph.D. students at IRTIS actively develop their academic and scientific skills. This primarily involves developing statistical and methodological skills through online courses and attending summer/winter schools abroad (typically one- to two-week block courses). We strive to ensure that our researchers have the opportunity and resources to participate in such educational events regularly - at least once a year.

We organize internal team workshops on specific methodologies and principles of scientific publishing (e.g., working with longitudinal data, applying open science principles) where we share our know-how and opinions. We also invite interesting guests from abroad with whom IRTIS researchers can discuss their specific research topics as well as broader issues. In recent years we have welcomed, for example, Sy-Miin Chow from Penn State University, Sonia Livingstone from the London School of Economics, and Tobias Dienlin from the University of Vienna.

We also support the development of teaching skills (see below) through CERPEK courses and presentation and communication skills through courses, media training, and mock conferences.

Mentoring from experienced scientists

Each junior researcher has one or more senior mentors (typically their Ph.D. supervisor). Mentors share their experiences, help the students set and achieve their goals, and provide opportunities to develop students' careers further. Mentors meet with students regularly, give them systematic feedback, actively collaborate on their research, and invite them to participate in their own research activities. Every six months, the junior researcher and the mentor meet to evaluate the collaboration and identify strengths and weaknesses. Together, they create a plan for further development and adjust the workload or content of the work (if necessary).

Experience from abroad and abroad

IRTIS has established collaborations with experts from abroad, which we are constantly developing and expanding. We employ foreign postdocs directly at IRTIS, and our staff regularly undertake research internships and trips abroad. Travel to international conferences (e.g., ECREA, ICA, EARA) and project meetings (e.g., EU Kids Online network meetings) is an integral part of the work at IRTIS. We fully fund Ph.D. students' travel expenses, from airfare to meals. In accordance with the requirements of the Ph.D. program, we also count on the Ph.D. student to complete a study exchange program or a research internship abroad (for one or two semesters). We try to combine these internships with work for IRTIS as best as possible. We also help students with choosing interesting and relevant research teams/departments.

We respect work-life balance and care about our well-being

At IRTIS, we understand how challenging a scientific career can sometimes be, which is why we discuss these topics together and organize workshops on work-life balance. At six-month intervals, each IRTIS member and their mentor have an evaluation meeting, during which goals are set for the next six months, the atmosphere at work is reflected upon, and a safe environment is created for expressing dissatisfaction or ideas for improvement. At IRTIS, we emphasize the prevention of any form of coercion or harassment, and we do not tolerate stereotypes based on gender, ethnicity, or other characteristics. Instead, we value the diversity of our team and promote a culture of mutual respect and dignity.

We aim for IRTIS to be not just a workplace but a team where we know about each other and support each other. Throughout the year, we organize informal activities and get-togethers, such as visits to the ZOO or laser tag.

Developing pedagogical competencies

The development of pedagogical competencies is also part of doctoral studies. Ph.D. students are, therefore, gradually involved in teaching, usually first as teaching assistants in courses taught by senior IRTIS members and later as lecturers on topics related to their doctoral research. The Ph.D. program includes supervising, advising, and opposing the theses of undergraduate students.

Why we like science

“Working as a researcher in NLP is exciting because my field is very competitive and fast-moving. By working in academia, as opposed to the industry, I get to publish my results under my name, which is important to me.”

Ondřej Sotolář Ondřej Sotolář
Ph.D. student of Computer Science, supervised by David Šmahel

“I love contributing to the knowledge base of how social media impact young people’s well-being. I enjoy every part of the process, from conceptualizing and planning the studies to interpreting the data and writing papers. Above all, I appreciate working on these projects with my talented and inspiring colleagues from whom I constantly learn new things.”

Nikol Kvardová Nikol Kvardová
Ph.D. student of Psychology, supervised by Hana Macháčková

“I love the feeling that my work can at least with a small piece contribute to something bigger - a complex, deeper understanding of social world around us. It makes me more confident about what's going on around me and helps me to think about things from different angles that wouldn't come to my mind in normal life.”

Jana Blahošová Jana Blahošová
Ph.D. student of Media studies and journalism, supervised by David Šmahel
No description

Ph.D. at IRTIS is suitable for people who:

  • are interested in researching topics related to the use of ICTs
  • have a desire to continually learn and develop their skills
  • have a strong command of English and a willingness to further improve their academic writing
  • are passionate about science and research
  • have a responsible and detail-oriented approach to work

To study at the FSS, you need:

  • to have a master's degree in or to be a master's student of psychology, media studies/communications, sociology, or another relevant field
  • a good knowledge of statistics and methodology and a desire to further develop analytical skills

To study at FI

  • to have a master's degree in or to be a master's student of computer science

I'm interested - what now?

Depending on who you are closest to thematically, contact David, Hanka, or Lenka (see above). Contacting your selected supervisor to talk about your ideas is important for your successful application. Please include a CV detailing your skills and interests relevant to your chosen Ph.D. program and focus. We will then arrange a meeting to discuss everything you need. Feel free to contact us at any time during the year. 

For information about the specifics of the program (study program, requirements, how to apply, when and how your application should look), please see https://www.fss.muni.cz/en/faculty-of-social-studies/admissions/doctoral-studies (or Czech version, https://www.fss.muni.cz/pro-uchazece/doktorske-studium). Please note that students in English doctoral programs have to pay tuition. You can find the amount on the provided websites.

If you want to get more insider information, please do not hesitate to contact any of our Ph.D. students. They will be happy to share their perspective and answer your questions.

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info