Postdoctoral researcher in data analysis and modelling

Post Doc
Language Development

The position

The Language Development Department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands is offering a 5-year postdoctoral position from 1st April 2021.
The successful candidate will divide their time between acting as a design and statistics consultant to the department’s research projects (2 days per week), and as a project leader on one of the department’s new projects: Mechanisms of individual differences in language development (3 days per week):

  • Consultancy:
    The consultancy role will involve creating statistical tools suitable for use in the department’s research, training researcher to use such tools, and advising on particular projects. For more information about the department’s research click here.
  • Project: Mechanisms of individual differences in language development: The successful candidate will undertake research to discover the underlying mechanisms that enable some children to learn language (English in this case) faster than others, using two existing longitudinal datasets of child language data: The Language05 Project and the Canberra Longitudinal Child Language Project. One strand of work will focus on the acquisition of grammar, with a focus on the relationship between the lexicon and grammar.  A second strand, conducted by a PhD student, will focus on the role of parent-child interactions in later language development. Further studies will be developed by the project team as the project unfolds. The project team will comprise Caroline Rowland and Evan Kidd, the successful applicant and one PhD student. The successful applicant will act as the PhD student’s daily supervisor.



  • A PhD in computer science, cognitive science, psychology, linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, or a related discipline.
  • Expertise in advanced statistical modelling of human behaviour using R.
  • A track record of research on language development, including experience disseminating research through conference presentations and publications.
  • Experience managing confidential information provided by participants, dealing with ethical and administrative issues, and efficiently managing and cataloguing data.
  • Experience supervising and/or teaching undergraduate or postgraduate students.
  • Excellent written and spoken English. The language of the institute is English, so knowledge of Dutch is not required.


  • Expertise in at least one other statistical package and/or programming language used to model behaviour.
  • Expertise in computational modelling of human behaviour.
  • Experience working with longitudinal datasets.
  • An explicit interest in, and commitment to, Open Science.

Conditions of employment

  • The position is available from 1st April 2021, though start date is negotiable.
  • Full-time position (39 hours per week) with a term of appointment of 5 years.
  • The salary is according to the German TVöD (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst) and is classified in salary group E13. Depending on the experience of the applicant, the salary is between EUR 4,113.41 and EUR 5,981.85 gross per month plus a holiday bonus of 8% of the gross salary. This equates to EUR 53,309.79 – EUR 77,524.77 per year, including holiday bonus.
  • All research staff have access to state-of-the art research and training facilities and a generous conference and travel budget.

Application procedure

Informal enquiries should be addressed to Caroline Rowland at caroline.rowland [at]

To apply, please send the following documents to Ilse van den Dobbelsteen at Ilse.vandenDobbelsteen [at] Deadline for applications: Friday January 15th 2021.

Applications should include:

  • A 2-page application letter that includes information about your research interests, why you are interested in this post, and why you consider yourself a good match for the post.
  • A CV, which should include a list of publications.
  • Contact details for three referees (referees will not be contacted unless you are invited to interview).
  • Details of your availability for interview via Zoom in the weeks beginning 1st February 2021 and 8th February 2021.  

The employer

The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psycholinguistics conducts interdisciplinary research into the psychological, social and biological foundations of language. Scientists at the Institute study a variety of topics including how children and adults acquire language, the role of genetic factors, how speaking and listening happen in real time, how the brain processes language for communication, and how language connects to cognition and culture. The Institute's approach to the science of language and communication is unique, addressing these fundamental issues at multiple levels, from molecules and cells to circuits and brains, all the way through to the behaviour of individuals and populations. We are situated on the campus of the Radboud University and have close collaborative links with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University. We also work closely with other child development researchers as part of the Baby and Child Research Centre.

Staff and students at the MPI have access to state-of-the art research and training facilities (including audio-visual equipment, EEG, fMRI, eye tracking, virtual reality labs, molecular biology labs and a child-friendly child development lab).

The Institute is part of the Max Planck Society, an independent non-governmental association of German-funded research institutes dedicated to fundamental research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The MPI for Psycholinguistics recognises the positive value of diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We are committed to redressing systemic problems with diversity in science, and therefore welcome applications from individuals from minority groups and from groups that are otherwise under-represented.



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