Doctoral Researcher TRUST

Please note: The deadline for applying to this position has passed.

Application Deadline: Monday, August 10, 2020

Doctoral Researcher on Attitudinal Impacts of Refugees on Host Populations (TRUST) 

Deadline: 10 August 2020

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) invites applications for a three-year, full-time position as Doctoral Researcher. The position provides the opportunity to work in a leading international research institution with high academic standards and an interdisciplinary environment.

This position is financed as part of a grant from the Research Council of Norway to PRIO for the project “TRUST: Attitudinal Impacts of Refugees on Host Communities in the Global South”, led by Research Professor Halvard Buhaug.

Working within the fields of social sciences, the Doctoral Researcher to be employed in this project will conduct theoretical and empirical research on how the arrival and presence of refugee populations in various African contexts affect core sociopolitical attitudes among host communities, drawing on existing population survey data and other relevant source material. While statistical analysis of georeferenced survey responses will constitute the primary scientific tool, qualitative case study analysis may serve as a complementary analytical strategy. The work will result in an article-based PhD dissertation in English.

About the TRUST project  

Recent years have seen unprecedented levels of forced migration. At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide, the highest figure ever recorded. Despite vocal concerns about refugee arrivals in Europe, forced displacement is overwhelmingly confined to the Global South. In 2017, 85% of all refugees were hosted in developing countries, with Africa accommodating the largest share.

Despite the magnitude of displacement, extant knowledge on how refugees affect host populations is derived almost exclusively from Western societies. We lack completely evidence-based, generalizable insights of such dynamics across contexts in the Global South, critically hampering the formation of effective and inclusive capacity building programs to assist people of concern.

The TRUST project steps up to the challenge. It will provide the first systematic, comparative investigation of how refugee arrivals affect host perceptions of trust and well-being and how contextual factors shape this relationship. This will be accomplished by analyzing survey data of 200,000+ respondents across 37 African countries, coupled with new refugee settlement data, in a quasi-experimental analytical framework. Four dimensions of trust and well-being will be studied: (A) political trust, (B) social trust, (C) perception of economic security, and (D) perception of physical security. Special care will be taken to identify contextual and cross-cutting patterns. In addition, the project will conduct a small set of qualitative case studies, including stakeholder interviews, to validate survey findings, shed new light on deviant cases, and facilitate further theorizing.

Hosted at PRIO, the research project brings together conflict and migration scholars from NTNU (Norway), University of Oxford (UK), Loyola Marymount University (USA), and PRIO.

A complete description of the TRUST project will be made available to interested candidates upon request.

The doctoral project

The three-year Doctoral Project will study one or more of the four outcomes of interest covered in TRUST, i.e., effects of refugee populations on host communities’ expressed political and social trust and perceived level of economic and physical security. Particular emphasis should be placed on detecting and understanding mediating and conditional relationships and particular contexts that are likely to shape the outcome.

A successful application is one that makes clear how the Doctoral Project builds on, and moves beyond, the existing research frontier on social implications of forced migration and, further, how it contributes innovatively to the TRUST project as a whole. Candidates are encouraged to read background material including relevant literature closely before writing their proposal.

As the main scientific approach, the Doctoral Project should make use of available rounds of the Afrobarometer surveys, in combination with geo-referenced refugee settlement data and relevant contextual data (e.g., demographic and economic conditions; armed conflict events), in order to detect systematic and generalizable patterns of refugee-host population dynamics at local to continental scales. Additional analysis of relevant data from other contexts, and/or qualitative material and stakeholder interviews from selected African cases, can be proposed as a complementary research strategy. The Doctoral Project does not include funds to conduct fieldwork in African sites.

This research should result in 4–5 articles and research papers (some of which may be co-authored with other members of the TRUST team) that jointly comprise a PhD dissertation, to be submitted within 36 months of commencing on the Doctoral Project.

Primary supervisor of the Doctoral Researcher will be Associate Professor Karin Dyrstad at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Senior Researcher Andreas Forø Tollefsen at PRIO will serve as secondary supervisor.

The Doctoral Researcher will be expected to live in Oslo and will have a workplace at PRIO. The PhD degree, however, must be awarded by a degree-granting institution – in this case NTNU in Trondheim, where Dyrstad (main supervisor) is based and Buhaug (TRUST project leader) holds an adjunct position. A research stay at NTNU for part of the project period may be negotiated. The Doctoral Researcher will be responsible for applying to and enrolling into NTNU’s PhD programme in Social Sciences (see requirements below), once the contract with PRIO has been signed.

Required and desired qualifications

Applicants must have the following qualifications

  • Hold an M.A. (120 credits) or equivalent degree in political science or a related social science field with average grade B or better (see NTNU’s grading system)
  • Advanced (M.A.-level) training in statistical methods (Stata and/or R). Applicants without documented skills in statistics will not be considered for the position.
  • Be fluent in English (oral and written)

In addition, the following qualifications are desirable

  • Advanced (M.A.-level) training in qualitative research methods
  • Training in geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial data analysis
  • Experience with teamwork
  • Scientific publications and conference presentations
  • Excellent communication and writing skills (English) 

Application procedure

The application is to be submitted by way of an online form no later than 10 August 2020. The application must include the following attachments (as PDF files; all written in English):

  1. A 1-page cover letter that explains your motivation for applying for the position, with a confirmation that all formal requirements, as described above, are fulfilled;
  2. A curriculum vitae, including a list of any publications you might have;
  3. One example of academic writing (e.g. M.A. thesis or conference paper)
  4. Scanned copies of original transcripts from higher education;
  5. A Doctoral Project description of max. 6 pages (including references), outlining:
  • Main research question, theoretical approach, and hypotheses, highlighting how they advance the research frontier and how they relate to the overall scope of the TRUST project
  • Main methodological approach, including analytical strategy for how to combine the overall ambition of generalizability with the need for context-sensitive knowledge
  • Tentative descriptions of articles to be included in the PhD dissertation;
  • A progress plan for the three-year Doctoral Project, including start and end dates and key milestones;


      6. Name and contact details of two references

Shortlisted candidates after evaluation of the submitted applications will be invited to interview(s) in order to discuss the research plan in more detail and to provide further details about the position. Interviews (virtual meetings) will take place in late August / early September. The starting date for the position is as early as possible after a decision has been announced (expected late Sept. 2020), or 1 January 2021 at the latest.

Additional information

The institute is located in spacious and attractive premises in central Oslo, Europe’s fastest-growing capital city. Employee benefits include access to the PRIO cabin in the mountains, a subsidized canteen, weekly physiotherapy exercise, weekly running group and various social events. PRIO is an equal opportunity employer and values staff diversity. The working language at PRIO is English.

The starting salary for a Doctoral Researcher at PRIO in 2020 is NOK 487.600 (equivalent to step 55 in the Norwegian State salary system). Employees are offered membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension fund. The Doctoral Project comes with funding earmarked for conference and workshop travel (but not fieldwork). 

The candidate should have an interest in PRIO’s broader mission of conducting high-quality academic research on questions relevant to the promotion of a more peaceful world. For more information about PRIO’s vision and research, see

Requests to receive the TRUST project description should be directed to Administrative Assistant Emma Qualischefski:, phone +47 22547700

Other questions about the Doctoral Researcher position can be addressed to Research Professor Halvard Buhaug: