PhD Position in Writing and Reading Processes in Technical Communication
Catholic University of Leuven

The Faculty of Arts and the MIDI research group are looking for a PhD-candidate for the project “The Authoring Side Revisited: Tracking Writing and Reading Processes in Multimodal Technical Communication”. The MIDI Research Group focuses on the study of language and interaction as a social and/or conceptual practice as it can be observed in different interpersonal settings involving, for instance, spontaneous workplace, mundane and other social interactions, as well as research interviews and experimentally controlled face-to-face conversations.


Technical Communication has developed as a profession in response to the expanding digitization and globalization. Source text quality is crucial in technical communication, because source text issues can easily snowball into end user, translator and even legal issues. Following a mixed-methods approach of interviews, participatory observation, screen capturing and eye-tracking, the project aims to take both the writer’s and the reader’s perspective into account. More specifically, the effects of writers’ effort and content optimization are mapped on readers’ ease of processing and task success. The project results are expected to have the following impacts: to improve users’ reading and task performance, to support software developers with best practices and to support professional and academic education in designing and implementing real-world technical writing courses.

The PhD candidate will carry out the following tasks under the supervision of the promotors:

  • Perform literature review
  • Develop an experimental research design
  • Perform eye-tracking and screen-tracking research
  • Explore the work field and map out the writing processes through interviews and observations
  • Analyze the obtained data quantitatively and qualitatively
  • Present the project results at (inter)national conferences
  • Publish the project results in international peer-reviewed journals
  • Participate in the KU Leuven doctoral training program
  • Address channels for follow-up funding
  • Provide support in teaching tasks at the intersection of applied linguistics and technical and professional communication (optional)


Applications are invited from candidates with the following qualifications:

  • A Master’s degree in Linguistics, Translation Studies, Multilingual Communication, Technical and Professional Communication,Communication and Media Studies or related fields. Final-year students who graduate before October 2020 can also apply.
  • Excellent quantitative and/or qualitative methodological skills
  • A native or near-native competence of Dutch, German or English and a good command of at least one of the other languages (written and spoken)
  • An interest in developing ethnographic and experimental research into writing and reading practices in the field of Technical Communication
  • A cooperative attitude and the ability to work independently as well as in a team
  • Prior work experience and/or research in the field are a big asset.


We offer a full-time employment for two years, preferably from 1 October 2020 onwards. The project will run for two years. An extension of two years is possible pending successful project funding. You will work in a research-oriented, challenging environment at the Antwerp Campus of KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts. The salary will be in accordance with the university salary scales for PhD students.


Please provide a) an application letter detailing your motivation and background as relevant to this job offer and b) your Curriculum Vitae. Applications should be in Dutch, German or English. 

The best candidates will be invited for an interview, which will take place mid August 2020. If you are not available in that period, please state this explicitly in your application letter and also mention when you will be available again.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Birgitta Meex, tel.: +32 3 502 15 45, mail: or Prof. dr. Bert Oben, tel.: +32 16 32 48 07, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than July 15, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Antwerpen
  • Apply before: July 15, 2020
  • Tags: Taalkunde / Letterkunde

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