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31 early PhD positions in multiple research fields (Martí i Franquès COFUND) in Tarragona (ES)


Tarragona (ES) – Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV)

Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV) is thefirst public university in Spain to receive a MSCA-COFUND doctoral grant. The EU contribution for the programme is 4M €, which will be added to another 4M € from URV’s own funds, in order to provide competitive salaries and working conditions to 50 PhD candidates. The programme is uniquely shaped to offer the best training stemming from the “triple i” principles of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions: international, interdisciplinary and intersectorial. In order to achieve these goals, we combine leading research groups at URV with scientific partners from world-class institutions.


The Martí i Franquès COFUND Doctoral Fellowships Programme (MFP) is a redesign of the existing MF programme, offering 100 doctoral contracts (in four editions: 2017, 2018 and 2020, 2021) at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV). The programme is uniquely shaped to offer the best training stemming from the “triple i” principles of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions: international, interdisciplinary and intersectorial. The positions are based on individual projects encompassing all areas of research at URV: Sciences, Health Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Engineering, Social and Legal Sciences.

Here you can find a selection of project in Humanities and Social Sciences:

Project 1: Language processing and the bilingual mind (PhD in Cognitive Science and Language)

Supervisor: Evelina Leivada

The aim of this project is to investigate the ways in which the presence of linguistic input from two proximal varieties affects the ability of adult neurotypical speakers to provide stable acceptability judgments about the structures that form part of their native repertoires. Through eliciting and examining acceptability judgments that target different domains of grammar, this project will foster comparisons across monolingual and bilingual speakers of Spanish and Catalan.

Acceptability judgments are a reliable tool in linguistic research that can provide valuable insights into the patterns of variation that Universal Grammar permits. Equally well established is the idea that acceptability judgments should be understood as points on a spectrum. More importantly, their position on the spectrum is affected by a variety of extra-grammatical factors such as gradience, frequency, and competing grammars. Assuming that Universal Grammar does not dictate the relevant orderings, the input effects have to be investigated for the surfacing patterns to be explained. The presence of variation in the input may affect judgments in ways that remain to be defined. Could it be the case that the ‘gray area’ of partial acceptability judgments is bigger in bilingual populations compared to monolingual ones? Is the stability of judgments affected more or less in the bilingual populations?

This project will answer these questions through testing monolingual speakers of Spanish and bilingual speakers of Spanish and Catalan, in timed forced choice tasks, something that will enable tapping into both accuracy and speed. The same structures will be tested through various tasks and in different point in times in order to determine whether the judgments provided by the bilingual population are as stable as those of the monolingual population. This combination of an on-line and an off-line measure will provide better insights into the ways the various structures are processed in the bilingual mind.

Project 2: Grammar, grammaticality and acceptability (PhD in Cognitive Science and Language)

Supervisor: Evelina Leivada

The aim of this project is to investigate the notions of acceptability and grammaticality through running various types of acceptability judgment tasks.

Acceptability judgments are a reliable tool in linguistic research that can provide valuable insights into grammar, eventually giving rise to what has been called the evidential base of linguistics. Although acceptability judgments are robust and reliable indicators of one`s perception of her/his linguistic repertoire, human cognition is fallible to processing biases and heuristics of various types. The ways these biases impact acceptability judgments are still to be determined.

This project will address this question through administering acceptability and other types of tasks in neurotypical populations. The project will deal with various grammatical representations, also taking into account the interests and competences of the selected fellow.

Emphasis will be given to ensuring a gender balance in the implementation of this project. The supervisors commit to promote gender equality in the research team that will host the fellow, both in terms of human resources, but also in terms of content. Moreover, gender will be included as one of the possible predictors/factors in the analysis of the results.

Project 3: Impact of PhD supervisory training: measurement and improvement (PhD in Economics and Business)

Supervisor: Mireia Valverde

The recent and widespread growth in interest in pursuing PhD studies has led to a striking increase in candidates for doctoral programs, many of whom present widely varying profiles. Consequently, a general recognition has emerged that supervising a PhD is not a given. Rather, it is a role replete with responsibilities and the highest academic standards and expectations that requires much training and preparation of supervisors. As a result of these new needs, universities have responded with a broad range of approaches based on varying degrees of involvement and effort directed towards PhD training provision. In this context, it is now time to take stock of the outcomes of such efforts, in macro terms, by profiling the range of practices and approaches at the European level, and in micro terms, by reviewing the impact of specific approaches to providing PhD supervision training.

Therefore, the present research project attempts to analyze the impact of PhD supervision training on the roles and activities undertaken by supervisors and the quality of the supervision received by PhD candidates. To do so, the project will identify and consider different approaches to the measurement of this impact. This will be with a view to generating improvements in institutional approaches to providing PhD supervision training and their corresponding follow up activities.

This objective will materialize through the pursuit of more specific research activities among the following lines:
– To identify and review current practices in PhD supervisory training, mapping the situation in the European context.
– To identify and separate measures of evaluation and impact of PhD supervisory training on a number of stakeholders, particularly on supervisors, PhD researchers, PhD graduates, and the university as an institution.
– To observe actual practices of trained PhD supervisors as opposed to those who have not participated in such training.
– To describe the characteristics of finished thesis supervised by trained supervisors (e.g. in terms of research outputs).
– To describe current roles of trained PhD supervisors in order to identify new ways of executing their supervisory role and detect its potentially widened scope (e.g. by participating in planning their PhD candidates’ careers).
– To generate a guideline of standards and strategies to measure the impact of investments made in PhD supervision training provisions.
– To develop a set of principles guiding good practice in PhD supervisory training for maximum impact.

Project 4: Female travelers in the age of social media (PhD in Economics and Business)

Supervisor: Ana B. Hernández Lara

Historically, people tend to narrate their travel stories, and the emergence of social media has provided a new space for them to share their experiences for a wider range of their network (Sigala, 2016). People with different backgrounds reflect what they perceive from tourism destinations on their social media pages, and these contents affect themselves, their audiences, destinations, and tourism services (Lund, Cohen & Scarles, 2018; McWha, Frost, & Laing, 2018). As a prominent group of travelers and users of social media, women have some specific travel motivations, aims, and needs (Mirehie, Gibson, Khoo-Lattimore, & Prayag, 2018), and share specific aspects of their travel experiences on their social media pages.
Despite the growing influence of social media on all aspects of our life, tourism destinations, and tourism enterprises, the studies on its different dimensions and effects are insufficient yet. Through Netnography, big data, and in-depth interviews, the present research aims to contribute to the realm of female studies, social media, destination marketing, and service marketing. The following objectives represent how this research can advance to these fields of study.
1- Although some scholars (i.e. McWha et al., 2018) undertook primary researches showing the effects of audiences on those who share their travel experiences on social media, it still needs further studies. This study aims to show how women are influenced by their followers` feedbacks in the communicative space of social media.
2- The present research also tries to explore how female travelers influence their audience by the contents they share on their social media pages, and how these contents affect societies, travel styles, and tourism trends.
3- Since social media pages provides spaces of self-expression and personal branding for people, the present research aims to show how tourism enterprises and destination management organizations can marketing their services and destinations through the potential of these shared contents and photos by travelers in a nuanced and authentic way.

Project 5: Ethics of care, gender, and crisis. The impact of deinstitutionalization and re-familiarization in caring for elderly and dependent people (PhD in Gender Studies: Culture, Societies and Policies)

Supervisor: Dolors Comas d`Argemir Cendra

The demand for care is framed as a ‘crisis’ in Europe, and family care is central to understanding of modern social care programmes. In Spain, the social organization of care has experienced the need to be reformulated due to the impact of a threefold crisis: the crisis of care; the economic crisis, and the current health crisis caused by COVID-19.

The “crisis of care” expresses the collapse of family and society to care for elderly and dependent people. In Spain, this crisis is produced by the massive presence of women in paid work, the increase in dependency situations, the fragmentation and reduction of support networks, the lack of involvement of men, and the weakness of public policies. On the other hand, the 2008 economic crisis deeply affected the population, due to high unemployment, housing problems and liberalizing policies, which have applied austerity measures with substantial cuts in public spending. The Dependency Law (2006) suffered serious delays in its application and its restructuring led to a budget reduction, re-familiarizing care and intensifying its commodification as a result of the less involvement of the state and the reduction of public policies. Finally, the current health emergency has caused, among others, an unprecedented crisis of the institutions and services involved in care, which has once again revealed the fragility of the social care organization: nursing homes and care home services have proved insufficient and absolutely precarious.

In Spain, this threefold crisis is causing a double process of deinstitutionalization and re-familiarization with a strong impact on families and women who mostly take care of their relatives. At the same time, well-being discourse has become ever-more prominent, and in policy terms ‘aging in place’ is often presented as a holistic and integrative alternative.

The research is based on ethics of care perspective, which understands human beings as vulnerable and dependent arguing for recognition of our innate need to care and be cared for. The aim is “de-gender care”, examining moral and ethical basis to understand the gendered nature of care and the relational interdependence of caring subjects. This perspective is chosen to clarify the balance between the role of families and the role of welfare states in supporting and addressing care needs. At the same time, it clarifies the commitment of women and men as carers. As in Spain autonomous regions have the competence of social care policies it is important to take in account a comparative framework to analyse it.

The objectives of the research are:
– describe and analyze the recent double process of deinstitutionalization and re-familiarization, and how well-being discourse is been applied in practice.
– analyze the implications of this process for family carers. In this point, the aim is to contribute to the conception of a practical ethics of care, by contrasting the well-being discourse of social policies and the daily practices of carers in family settings.
– examine specifically the commitment of men in caring for elderly and dependent people in this situation of deinstitutionalization and re-familiarization.


Deadline: 15 November 2020.

The call for applications opens on the date it is published ( September 15, 2020) and closes on November 15,2020 at 23:59 (Central European Time – CET).

Please remember that you can ONLY apply to 1 research project.

Candidates who meet the necessary requirements to apply for one of these contracts must submit an online application, which will include the following:

  1. Application form completed online
  2. Scanned copy of identity card, resident’s card or passport currently in force
  3. Curriculum Vitae (Any research career gaps and/or unconventional paths should be clearly explained so that this can be fairly assessed by the evaluators; if you are a forcibly displaced researcher, please explain your situation in the CV)
  4. Scanned copy of the certificate of the official academic qualification or proof of payment of the fees for the issuance of the certificate that allows the holder to access the doctoral studies. Students who hold Master degrees should present the scanned copies of their master’s degrees. Students who are registered in an official university master’s course that allows them to access the doctoral programme during the 2020/2021 academic year must present a scanned copy of their master’s course registration form.
  5. Scanned copy of academic transcript of the qualification equivalent to a bachelor’s degree
  6. Scanned copy of academic transcript of the master’s degree. Candidates who have notcompleted their master’s degrees must send their provisional academic transcript
  7. Description of the master’s degree project
  8. Two scanned reference letters
  9. A motivation letter, explaining how the candidate is suited for the position s/he appliesfor

All documentation must be presented in English.

Conditions of employment

The full-time employment contracts will have an initial duration of 12 months and may be extended twice for another 12 months, up to a total period of 36 months, provided that the candidate has received a favorable activity report (DAD + PlaInv), based on the evaluation of the academic committee of the respective doctoral programme. The contract cannot be renewed over the 36 months maximum period.

The gross monthly salary of the fellows is 2.258,60 €. The total remuneration is receivedin twelve monthly payments, which is subjected to social security fees and tax deductions, as applicable by Spanish labour and tax laws.

Fellows will accomplish their research project in full-time dedication. These contracts are incompatible with any other grant or contract, with payments that imply a contractual link of a similar nature, or with activities that may prevent the individual from dedicating him/herself exclusively to the work that is the object of the contract in the opinion of the Human Resources Committee delegated by the Governing Council of the URV.

Fellows will have full-time research and teaching duties. Their main obligation will be to complete a doctoral thesis at the URV within one of its doctoral programmes. As part of the training programme, the corresponding Departmental Council may assign, upon request of the fellows, a collaboration in teaching activities for up to 60 hours a year.

As part of the PhD training, the fellows must develop a minimum 3 months secondment at a Higher Education Institution or research center in a country other than Spain (consecutive or nonconsecutive; in one or in different centers). This mandatory secondment will provide the fellow with the International Doctor Distinction.

The fellow can choose a partner organization that support the programme, for their secondment or they can suggest a different entity for it.


MFP-COFUND is addressed to Early Stage Researchers (ESR) of any nationality that fulfil the following eligibility criteria at the time of the call deadline (November 15, 2020). If it becomes clear before, during or after the evaluation phase that one or more of the eligibility criteria have not been fulfilled, the proposal is declared ineligible and is withdrawn for any further examination.

Candidates must comply with the following eligibility criteria at the call deadline:

1. Be early stage researchers (ESR): at the date of the deadline of the call (November 15, 2020), be in the first 4 years (full time equivalent research experience1) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

2. Comply with the mobility rule: Researchers may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the call deadline (November 15, 2020).

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