Crisis News Twitter — Snurb, 26 August 2012
Call for Applicants: PhD Researcher on Crisis Communication Linkage Project

Regular visitors to this site will be well familiar with our research into the use of social media in crisis communication – especially in the context of the 2011 Queensland floods and Christchurch earthquakes. We’re now about to commence a further major research project in this area, working in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Community Safety to further improve the use of social media in crisis contexts.

As part of this project, we’re offering a PhD scholarship, including top-up beyond normal Australian PhD scholarship rates. If you’re interested, please get in touch – here are the full details:

The Project

The Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is calling for expressions of interest in a funded PhD position (3 years) on a new Australian Research Council Linkage research project which examines the use of social media in crisis communication. The three-year project is undertaken in partnership between QUT and the Queensland Department of Community Safety (DCS), Eidos Institute, and Sociomantic Labs. PhD research on the project will begin immediately on acceptance of the candidate.

The PhD candidate will be based at QUT in Brisbane, and will be embedded with the DCS for the majority of the project’s duration, which will provide them with first-hand access and insight into the internal processes of the Department and the emergency services organisations whose activities it manages. Placed alongside and working closely with experienced DCS staff members, the researcher will be able to observe and contribute to DCS’s emergency media management activities, especially during the Queensland summer storm season (the period of most intensive activity for the DCS), as well as facilitating the iterative development and implementation of improved guidelines for the use of social media by the Department and its emergency services during disaster events.

The PhD researcher will investigate the use of social media by the emergency service organisations overseen by the DCS, conduct interviews with key stakeholders, and work closely with DCS staff to implement, evaluate, and revise the social media strategies developed by the project; they will also work closely with the Eidos Institute in coordinating the annual symposia which present the outcomes of the research project, and co-author the project’s reports with the principal researchers. The PhD candidate will be supervised by QUT researchers Assoc. Prof. Jean Burgess and Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns.

He or she will also be formally associated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation, which will provide access to a dynamic research culture and opportunities for networking and professional development.


The scholarship will be awarded in late 2012, alongside the annual scholarship round. Potential applicants should contact Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns ( as soon as possible, and allow sufficient time to complete the application form. The successful applicant would be expected to commence study by 21 January 2013.


Over the three years of the project, the PhD candidate will receive an annual APAI stipend of (currently) A$27,651, as well as an additional top-up of A$5,000, adding up to a total scholarship value of A$32,651 per annum. The scholarship is tax free.

Research Information

The ARC Linkage project investigates the uses of social media in crisis communication and emergency management. Social media were found to have played an important role as an additional crisis communication channel during the Queensland floods and Christchurch earthquakes, but further research is necessary into the most effective uses of social media for disseminating advice to the public and for sourcing situational information from affected communities. Research on the project will commence in mid-2012 (but see for examples of relevant social media research the team has done so far.) This project provides an unprecedented opportunity to work with the key state and national agencies, networks and researchers in social media and crisis communication. With an ERA ranking of 5 (“well above world standing”), Creative Industries at QUT is the lead site for Media and Communication research in Australia, and the project Chief Investigators Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns, Dr. Jean Burgess, and Prof. Terry Flew are international research leaders in the area of Internet studies. The project also involves Assoc. Prof. Kate Crawford (Microsoft Research Labs, Boston) as a Partner Investigator, and is undertaken in partnership with the Queensland Department of Community Safety (DCS), Eidos Institute, and Sociomantic Labs.


The scholarship is open to domestic students and tuition fees will be covered by the Government’s Research Training Scheme (RTS). The successful applicant is expected to hold a First Class Honours Degree (or equivalent) in a relevant area. International applicants may be also be eligible if their tertiary education is deemed equivalent to an Australian First Class Honours Degree. The proposed research project must align with the ARC-funded project. Applicants must qualify for entry to a PhD program with the Creative Industries Faculty. Potential candidates should have existing experience in researching crisis communication and/or social media, and a proven track record of research excellence in prior research projects with a humanities and/or social science component. Relevant professional experience may also count towards equivalence. Candidates from Brisbane or Queensland are especially encouraged to apply.

How to Apply

If you are interested in this opportunity please contact Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns in the first instance (email: by 21 Sep. 2012. The scholarship application form and instructions can be obtained from

Other information

The successful applicant will be based at the Creative Industries Faculty at QUT’s Kelvin Grove campus in Brisbane, Australia.

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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