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Message posted on 24/09/2020

PhD Position (salaried) at Athena, VU Amsterdam on Innovating the inclusion of knowledge and values in vaccination guidelines


Are you committed to knowledge inclusion in health? Want to support the inclusion of values and concerns of patients and professionals in vaccination guidelines? And are you curious what digital methods can contribute to such questions? Then join us at the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) in this joint project with the RIVM!


You will be doing research within the project “Evidence in Action: Dynamic standardisation of experience-based knowledge and values in guidelines”. This three-year project is a collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit (Athena Institute and Informatics/Social AI) and the National Coordination Centre for Communicable Disease Control of RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment). AI methods are combined with deliberation techniques to include experiential knowledge and values by patients and care professionals in guidelines for vaccination. The research thereby aims to develop more socially robust guidelines as well as innovate the methods for knowledge inclusion itself. The project combines innovative text mining and data analytics methods from AI with deliberation between patients, care professionals and guideline developers in an online platform, to improve and facilitate the assessment and integration of experience-based knowledge and values into the guidelines in the field of infectious diseases. This will be done by development and testing of the online platform that would bring together the knowledge of the guideline developers, health professionals and patients. The platform will be tested in the revision of three vaccination guidelines in the Netherlands. The scientific goal of the project is be to innovate the methods and infrastructures for knowledge- and value inclusion in guideline development processes. The successful candidate will work at the Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit in close collaboration with LCI and department of Informatics of the VU as well as other stakeholders, such as public health physicians, GPs, and youth- and elderly organizations. You will carry out literature study, surveys, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders and users of vaccination guidelines to assess their needs and identify additional digital sources of experience-based knowledge and values of patients and professionals. You will also be actively involved in text mining and data analytics techniques to filter the identified sources. You will facilitate the co-creation sessions for the online platform and the evaluation of its use. Next to your research, resulting in a PhD thesis, you will be teaching in courses given by the Athena Institute (~20% of your time). Your work will be supported with committed supervision and additional training in methods you are not familiar with.


We are looking for an enthusiastic, curious, and creative candidate who has: • a master’s degree in science and technology studies, health sciences, medical sciences, informatics (human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence) or a related field • practical experience with qualitative research methods: collection or analysis of interviews/focus groups (knowledge of AtlasTi, NVIVO, or comparable is an advantage) and/or practical experience with quantitative methods: statistical analysis (SPSS, STATA, or R) • previous experience with one or more of the following: survey design, focus group design, participatory methods, stakeholder interaction, or other co-creative processes • knowledge of programming languages, especially Natural Language Processing is an advantage • prior knowledge of Dutch guideline development process, decision-making under uncertainty, and/or the dynamics of social norms and risk perception is an advantage • fluency in spoken and written English and Dutch are essential • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team • excellent organizational, communicating and connecting skills: you will collaborate with scientists from various disciplines as well as with broad range of societal stakeholders • strong track record and research skills, relative to experience, and excellent academic writing and presentation skills The chosen candidate will perform the tasks at the Athena Institute of the VU Amsterdam and partly at the LCI of the RIVM and the Department of Informatics of the VU Amsterdam.


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the renumeration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (PhD) and a maximum €3,061 (PhD).

The appointment will initially be for a period of one year with a possible extension conditional upon assessment of adequate functioning.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as: • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus • solid pension scheme (ABP) • contribution to commuting expenses • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

Athena Institute The position is offered within the Athena Institute, Faculty of Science. The institute's mission is to study and design interfaces between science and society to contribute both to a deeper understanding of innovation processes as well as a responsible implementation of research and innovation in society. Athena's research amongst other focuses on analysing complex global health challenges, designing interventions and conducting participatory monitoring and evaluation research. For more information about the Athena Institutet, visit our website: For more information about the LCI of the RIVM, see:


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until October 18, 2020. The first round of interviews are planned for Friday 30th of October when possible please take this into account when applying for the position.

Vacancy questions If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Teun Zuiderent-Jerak Position: Associate Professor of Interactive Governance of Health Interventions E-mail: Telephone: 020-5987031

Name: Prof.dr. Aura Timen Position: Professor of responses to communicable diseases in global health Telephone: 030-2747000

Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, MA, MA, PhD Associate Professor of Interactive Governance of Health Interventions Athena Institute, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

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