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PhD Studentship: What Role Do Social Media Influencers Play in Spreading Misinformation and Disinformation?

Loughborough University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 9th November 2018
Closes: 11th January 2019
Reference: OCC19-P2W

Application details:

Reference number: OCC19-P2W
Start date of studentship: 30 September 2019
Closing date of advert: 11 January 2019
Interview date: In February 2019. Date to be confirmed after shortlisting.


Primary supervisor: Professor Louise Cooke
Secondary supervisors: Dr Suzanne Elayan, Dr Simone Natale


O3C: Improving the Health of Our Online Civic Culture

Established in 2018 with a £300,000 award from Loughborough University's Adventure Research Programme, the Online Civic Culture Centre for Doctoral Training (O3C) applies cutting-edge concepts and methods from social science and information science to understand the role of social media in shaping our civic culture. Led by Professor Andrew Chadwick it consists of a team of ten academic supervisors drawn from the disciplines of communication, information science, social psychology, and sociology. The CDT enables interdisciplinary teams of researchers and PhD students to work together on issues of misinformation, disinformation, and the rise of hate speech and incivility online. It develops evidence-based knowledge to mitigate the democratically-dysfunctional aspects of social media. It identifies and promotes the positive civic engagement benefits of social media. For more information visit

  • In the latest UK Research Excellence Framework (2014), Communication at Loughborough was ranked 2nd in the UK for research intensity.
  • Communication has ranked in the World Top 50 for Communication for the last six years and is 7th in the world and 1st in the UK in Communication for influence on scholarly research and debate as measured by citations (QS World University Rankings 2018).

Full Project Detail:

What drives people to behave in democratically-dysfunctional ways in the online environment, and how can we change this behaviour? This project will develop culturally-sensitive concepts for designing new algorithms to detect social media influencers who spread misinformation and disinformation on social media. Through a perspective attentive to the ethical and cultural implications of human-machine interactions on social media platforms, it will both improve understanding of the values embedded in platform algorithms and the role social media influencers play in spreading false information in online networks. The work will sit at the interdisciplinary intersection of computational text mining, applied data science, sociolinguistics, media theory, theories of artificial intelligence, and normative ethical theory.

Find out more:

Entry requirements:

At least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) by start of project. A Master's degree will be an advantage.

Funding information:

Open to UK/EU and International graduates with backgrounds in relevant disciplines. For UK/EU students the studentship provides a tax free stipend of £14,777 per year (pending 2019 increase) for three years and covers tuition fees at the UK/EU rate (currently £4,260, pending 2019 increase). International students may apply: in this case the studentship will cover only the International tuition fee (£16,400 pending 2019 increase) and no stipend. You will register for 1 October 2018.

Contact details:

Name: Deirdre Lombard, Postgraduate Administrator
Email address:
Telephone number: +44 (0)1509 223879

How to apply:

Online at Under programme name, select Social Sciences. Clearly mark your application "Online Civic Culture CDT."

Please quote reference number: OCC19-P2W

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