MSR Social Media Collective 2014 PhD internships (applications due Jan 31, 2014)

MSR Social Media Collective 2014 PhD internships now open


Microsoft Research New England (MSRNE) is looking for PhD interns to join the Social Media Collective for Summer 2014. We are looking primarily for social science/humanities PhD students (including communication, sociology, anthropology, media studies, information studies, science and technology studies, etc.). The Social Media Collective is a collection of scholars at MSRNE who focus on socio-technical questions. We are not an applied program; rather, we work on critical research questions that are important to the future of understanding technology through a social scientific/humanistic lens.

MSRNE internships are 12-week paid internships in Cambridge, Massachusetts. PhD interns are expected to be on-site for the duration of their internship. Primary mentors for this year will be Nancy Baym and Kate Crawford.

PhD interns at MSRNE are expected to devise and execute a research project during their internships. The expected outcome of an internship at MSRNE is a publishable scholarly paper for an academic journal or conference of the intern’s choosing. The goal of the internship is to help the intern advance their own career; interns are strongly encouraged to work towards a publication outcome that will help them on the academic job market. Interns are also expected to collaborate on projects or papers with full-time researchers and visitors, give short presentations, and contribute to the life of the community. While this is not an applied program, MSRNE encourages interdisciplinary collaboration with computer scientists, economists, and mathematicians.

We are looking for applicants to focus their proposals on one of the following eights areas:

1)    The ethics and politics of big data, algorithms, and computational culture
2)    Entertainment and news industries and audiences
3)    Affective, immaterial, and other frameworks for understanding digital labor
4)    Critical accounts of urban informatics and crisis communication
5)    Personal relationships and digital media

Applicants should have advanced to candidacy in their PhD program by the time they start their internship (unfortunately, there are no opportunities for Master’s students or early PhD students at this time.) Interns will benefit most from this opportunity if there are natural opportunities for collaboration with other researchers or visitors currently working at MSRNE. Applicants from universities outside of the United States are welcome to apply.


The Social Media Collective is comprised of researchers, postdocs, and visitors. This includes:
–       Principal Researcher Nancy Baym (
–       Principal Researcher danah boyd (
–       Principal Researcher Kate Crawford (
–       Senior Researcher Mary L. Gray (
–       Postdoctoral Researcher Megan Finn (
–       Postdoctoral Researcher Jessa Lingel (
Previous interns in the collective have included Amelia Abreu (UWashington, information), Jed Brubaker (UC-Irvine, informatics), Jade Davis (University of North Carolina, Communication), Scott Golder (Cornell, sociology), Germaine Halegoua (U. Wisconsin, communications), Tero Karppi (University of Turku, Media Studies), Airi Lampinen (HIIT, information), Jessica Lingel (Rutgers, library and information science), Joshua McVeigh-Schultz (Interactive Media, University of Southern California), Alice Marwick (NYU, media culture communication), Jolie Matthews (Stanford, Learning Sciences), Laura Noren (NYU, sociology), Jaroslav Svelch (Charles University, media studies), Shawn Walker (UWashington, information), Omar Wasow (Harvard, African-American studies), and Sarita Yardi (GeorgiaTech, HCI).
For more information about the Social Media Collective, visit our blog:


To apply for a PhD internship with the social media collective:

1. Fill out the online application form:

Make sure to indicate that you prefer Microsoft Research New England and “social media” or “social computing.” You will need to list two recommenders through this form.  Make sure your recommenders respond to the request for letters so that their letters are also submitted by the deadline.

You will need to include:
a. A brief description of your dissertation project.
b. An academic article you have written (published or unpublished) that shows your writing skills.
c. A copy of your CV.
d. A pointer to your website or other online presence (if available).
e. A short description of 1-2 projects that you propose to do while an intern at MSRNE, independently and/or in collaboration with current SMC researchers. This project must be distinct from the research for your dissertation. This is important – we really want to know what it is you want to work on with us.

We will begin considering internship applications on Feb 1 and will not consider late applications.


“The internship at Microsoft Research was all of the things I wanted it to be – personally productive, intellectually rich, quiet enough to focus, noisy enough to avoid complete hermit-like cave dwelling behavior, and full of opportunities to begin ongoing professional relationships with other scholars who I might not have run into elsewhere.”
– Laura Noren, Sociology, New York University

“If I could design my own graduate school experience, it would feel a lot like my summer at Microsoft Research.  I had the chance to undertake a project that I’d wanted to do for a long time, surrounded by really supportive and engaging thinkers who could provide guidance on things to read and concepts to consider, but who could also provoke interesting questions on the ethics of ethnographic work or the complexities of building an identity as a social sciences researcher. Overall, it was a terrific experience for me as a researcher as well as a thinker.”
– Jessica Lingel, Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

“Spending the summer as an intern at MSR was an extremely rewarding learning experience. Having the opportunity to develop and work on your own projects as well as collaborate and workshop ideas with prestigious and extremely talented researchers was invaluable. It was amazing how all of the members of the Social Media Collective came together to create this motivating environment that was open, supportive, and collaborative. Being able to observe how renowned researchers streamline ideas, develop projects, conduct research, and manage the writing process was a uniquely helpful experience – and not only being able to observe and ask questions, but to contribute to some of these stages was amazing and unexpected.”
– Germaine Halegoua, Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Not only was I able to work with so many smart people, but the thoughtfulness and care they took when they engaged with my research can’t be stressed enough. The ability to truly listen to someone is so important. You have these researchers doing multiple, fascinating projects, but they still make time to help out interns in whatever way they can. I always felt I had everyone’s attention when I spoke about my project or other issues I had, and everyone was always willing to discuss any questions I had, or even if I just wanted clarification on a comment someone had made at an earlier point. Another favorite aspect of mine was learning about other interns’ projects and connecting with people outside my discipline.”
–Jolie Matthews, Education, Stanford University