Call for proposals researcher-in-residence 2018


The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands is seeking proposals for its Researcher-in-residence program to start in 2018. This program offers a unique chance to early career researchers to work in the library with the Digital Humanities team and KB data. In return, we learn how researchers use the data of the KB.

This year we invite academic researchers with a background in Humanities, Social Sciences, Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence to apply for one of the two following tracks: 1) an ‘open track’ in which we will address your Humanities or Social Sciences research question in a 6 month project using the digital collections of the KB and computational techniques. 2) An ‘information extraction track’ in which we invite Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence as well as Social Sciences and Humanities scholars to use or collaborate in our ongoing research on extracting structured data from our extensive collections of unstructured text.

For both tracks you will be assisted by one of our research software engineers. The output of the project will be incorporated in the experimental platform of the KB, the KB Lab and is ideally beneficial for a larger (scholarly) community.

The KB and opening up our digital collections

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands, is a research library with a broad collection in the fields of Dutch history, culture and society. As a national library we collect and store all (digital) publications that appear in the Netherlands, as well as a part of the international publications about the Netherlands. The KB has planned to have digitised and OCRed its entire collection of books, periodicals and newspapers from 1470 onward by the year 2030. Over 60 million book-, newspaper- and magazine pages are currently available via the search portal To further improve the usability of our content we aim to have all relevant names of persons, locations and organisations in our digital content reusable as linked (open) data by 2018.

The Researcher-in-residence project will be carried out in the Research Department of the KB and there will be two consecutive placements in 2018.

What kind of projects are we looking for in the open track?

We’re open to all kinds of projects that use our data and benefit your research and other users of the KB and/or the KB Lab. We encourage you to define your project by:

  1. formulating a fundamental research question that stems from your field of expertise and that can be linked to the methods and techniques applied at the KB Research Department, such as Information Retrieval (IR), Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML).
  2. formulating a project that preferably (but not necessarily) uses one of the following collections: journals, webarchive and catalogues. For more information about other possible collections, see our Data services website. We also offer derived datasets on our KB Lab and you can browse through our collection of newspapers, magazines, radio bulletins and books on
  3. formulating a project that is different from the previous executed Researcher-in-Residence projects in terms of data, techniques and research question. See the list on the right for an overview of previous projects and outcomes.

What kind of projects are we looking for in the information extraction track?

The KB collections contain an abundance of information about persons, locations, events, etc. A team of researchers at the KB Research Department is developing methods to automatically extract this information from the unstructured text of e.g. historical newspaper articles and use it to improve the findability and usability of our digital content. As stated in our strategic plan, the current focus is on recognizing named entities and linking them to international knowledge bases such as DBpedia and Wikidata. We now invite scholars to participate in these activities with either:

  1. A Humanities or Social Sciences project in which a fundamental research question can be answered by making use of the linked data approach within our digital newspaper collection.
  2. A Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence project in which our experiments with information extraction will be taken a step further by e.g. extracting properties of or relationships between entities, recognizing and clustering events etc.

Who are we looking for?

For both tracks we search for talented early career researchers who are:

  • PhD-student in their final stages of their PhD project or researchers that have obtained their PhD between 2013 and 2017

  • Have a background in Humanities, Social Sciences, Computer Science or Artificial Intelligence
  • Employed at a university or research institute in the EU as academic researcher

  • Interested in using one (or more) of the digital collections of the KB,

  • Available for 0.5 fte over a period of 6 months (preferably Jan – Jun 2018 or Jul – Dec 2018) and able to spend at least 1 day a week at the KB premises.

What can we offer you?

  • A secondment with the KB for 0,5 fte for a period of 6 months based on your current salary
  • Access to all datasets of the KB,
  • An office space,
  • Travel costs within the Netherlands,
  • Support from a programmer, researcher, collection and data specialists.

How do I apply?

Please use the template to formulate your research proposal and submit this as a pdf before 1 September 2017 via the emailadress, after having carefully read our terms and conditions. The form contains the following elements: details, project description (including research question, theoretical background and applied methods and techniques), outcomes, work plan, personal background, your availability in 2018 and a checkbox on our terms and conditions. Before you start working on your proposal, we strongly advise you to contact in advance of proposal submission to discuss eligibility, project details, prerequisites, and KB support with the Digital Humanities team.

Review process

All proposals will first be reviewed on eligibility by an internal KB committee and then forwarded to an external committee of representative experts from several Dutch universities and institutions that have backgrounds in Humanities, Social Sciences, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. The commission consists of:

  • prof. dr. Sally Wyatt, eHumanities & Maastricht University
  • prof. dr. Franciska de Jong, Erasmus University Rotterdam & Clarin
  • Prof. dr. Emiel Krahmer, University of Tilburg
  • Prof. dr. Hilde de Weerdt, University of Leiden
  • dr. Jacco van Ossenbruggen, CWI
  • Prof. dr. Antal van den Bosch, Meertens
  • Prof. dr. Lex Heerma van Voss, Huygens ING
  • Prof. dr. Lora Aroya, Vrije Universiteit
  • Prof. dr. Joep Leerssen, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • Thomas Smits, MA,, Radboud Universiteit

All entries will be judged on:

  • Originality and quality
  • Link with techniques and methods currently applied at the KB Research Department (Information Retrieval, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning)
  • Feasibility (technically, legally and practically)
  • How the KB data will be showcased and used
  • Whether the end results are of use for a wider community

You will be notified of the outcome of this call in October 2017.

For answers to more questions, read our FAQ. Please also read the terms of this call and placement.