Stellenausschreibung am MPI für Wissenschaftsgeschichte: Research IT Developer

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Das MPI für Wissenschaftsgeschichte schreibt eine Stelle aus (Vollzeit, E14, 1 Jahr, mögliche Verlängerung) für eine/n Software Entwickler/in im Bereich Digital Humanities für die Arbeit mit chinesischen Quellen (

The Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG), Berlin (Dept. III, Artefacts, Action, Knowledge, Director: Prof. Dagmar Schäfer), seeks an outstanding scholar for the position of

Research IT Developer(full time, TVöD E14). The position will be for one year with possibility of extension.

Candidates should have strong skills and rich experiences in designing web-based software with intuitive user interface and in programming. S/he will be working in a digital humanities project on Chinese local monographs (difangzhi 地方志). This project aims to provide historians a series of web user interfaces that will allow them to extract data from historical texts, to store and share the extracted data, and to apply third party visualization and analysis tools on the extracted data. The successful candidate will be responsible for evaluating and customizing existing tools for this project and will work closely with the digital content curator in house, who is responsible for the whole project. This position will have the chance to collaborate with historians, IT developers, and colleagues from top research or archival institutions. In order to adopt and customize tools developed by international teams based overseas, the successful candidate will need to communicate with the teams remotely through email correspondence or Skype meetings. Having experiences in digital humanities or humanities-tailored IT projects is preferred but not necessary, so as the language skill of classical Chinese.

Skills and requirements:

  • 5+ years of experience of web programming in Java, PHP, and Javascript
  • Familiar with Unicode handling, text processing, regular expressions, and databases (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL) in Java and PHP
  • Capable of designing and implementing a complete software
  • Proficiency in English writing and speaking
  • Capable of working independently and proactively
  • Good communication skills with both developers and non-developers

Additional qualifications (optional):

  • Reading of classical Chinese
  • Experience in digital humanities projects

Technical details about this project:

This project aims to provide a feasible way for historians to convert textual information in historical documents to structural datasets (for instance, tabular data) to make the information more accessible and reusable. The technical aspect of this project consists of three parts as described below.

(1) An extraction interface where the scholar can locate desired information in the texts by providing lists of terms that s/he is interested in and by composing regular expressions through an intuitive interface. The term lists and regexes will be matched against the texts automatically and the result will be highlighted in the text. Later on the located information will be transformed into a table. We already have a prototype for this extraction interface. It is written majorly in Javascript along with some PHP code for file handling and database querying.

(2) A data repository for storing and sharing results produced by the extraction interface. We plan to adopt and customize The Dataverse Network ( as the data repository for this project. Dataverse is an open source tool for scholars to share their research data and to get recognition. It is built upon GlassFish and PostgreSQL and is mainly written in Java. Dataverse has built in functionalities for stable data storage, version control, customized privilege setting, data downloading statistics, and more. In this project, we plan to customize Dataverse so that it can be smoothly connected to the extraction interface.

(3) An data acquisition API that will enable third party tools to acquire specific dataset from our data repository, to create visualization (for example, online maps, time plots, bar charts) or to run statistical/textual analysis on the data, and to return the results. We will also build tools based on existing tools that will use this API and create results in order to test the feasibility of the API.

Interested candidates should send, via email, a cover letter and resume/CV which should include a portfolio of selected works to demonstrate the candidate’s ability in designing and developing software, to the attention of Dr. Shih-Pei Chen, Digital Content Curator of MPIWG, at Please use “Job application: <your name>” as the subject of your application email.

The submission deadline will be September 14th, 2014. Successful applicants will be contacted within two weeks after the deadline. The job interview is scheduled on September 29th, 2014.

For questions about this position, please contact the digital content curator, Dr. Shih-Pei Chen ( For administrative questions concerning the position and the Institute, please contact Ms. Claudia Paass, Head of Administration (

Candidates of all nationalities are encouraged to apply; applications from women are especially welcome. The Max Planck Society is committed to employing handicapped individuals and encourages them to apply.

Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstr. 22, D-14195 Berlin

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