Lund University, The Department of Psychology

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 45 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Research project in psychology
The Department of Psychology co-finances a doctoral position with FORTE within the project: Improved assessment of depression and anxiety in children and young people using natural language.

How a person expresses their state of mind with language represents rich information. Language is “the most common and reliable way for people to translate their inner thoughts and feelings into a form that others can understand” (Tausczik & Pennebaker, 2010, p. 25). This project develops and adapts a method to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children and young people. The method uses artificial intelligence (AI) based on natural language processing and machine learning to analyze open responses. The open response method is called language-based assessments, where respondent’s answer questions with free text that are analyzed with AI. Several studies show that language-based assessments have greater validity and reliability than traditional rating scales (e.g., Kjell et al., 2023; 2019). These results have the potential to improve psychological assessments because rating scales are the dominant tool for assessing self-reported constructs in psychology, while AI approaches to language are still underdeveloped. This project aims to further develop and adapt these language-based assessments for children and young people to improve the measurement of mental illness.

The doctoral position is partly financed by a grant from FORTE and partly by the Department of Psychology at Lund University.

The PhD student and supervisor of this project will be in a stimulating and relevant academic and clinical research environment with links to industry. The project will be part of larger collaborations with ongoing projects at LU with international collaborations at the computer science departments at Stony Brook University (NY; Andrew Schwartz). In addition, the project involves a collaboration with the company Ablemind (CEO Tomas de Souza; Oscar Kjell is co-founder), which provides an AI-based decision support to diagnose depression, anxiety and stress problems in adults.

The doctoral project
The objectives of the project include:

Adapt, test and evaluate instructions, questions and answer formats for the language-based assessment method for children and adolescents (Study 1a-c).

Develop and validate AI to assess depression and anxiety in children and adolescents (Study 2a-c). This includes:

Develop AI to predict according to the LEAD (Longitudinal Expert All Data) method.

Optimize the number of responses needed.

Develop ways to visualize AI results to support clinical decision-making.

Investigate how healthcare professionals can be helped by AI-based decision support (from study 1-2) for children and adolescents (study 3). This includes:

Investigate clinicians' willingness and ability to use AI-based decision support.

Based on identified needs of clinicians, develop better ways to use AI-based decision support by providing clear results, and develop education and training.

The doctoral student will take great personal responsibility, work independently in the project, and collaborate with many different parties.

Job duties
The doctoral program in psychology comprises 240 higher education credits, which corresponds to four years of full-time studies. The training ends with the doctoral student defending their doctoral thesis at a public defense.

Anyone who is employed as a doctoral student must devote themselves to the PhD education. Provisions on employment as a doctoral student can be found in the Higher Education Ordinance ch. 5 §§ 1-7. The doctoral student is expected to actively participate in the research and teaching environment at the department and should count on service with mainly teaching of a maximum of 20 percent. Anyone employed as a doctoral student receives a monthly salary. Information about the doctoral program in psychology is available at

Basic eligibility for graduate level education is those who has completed a degree at advanced level, have completed course requirements of at least 240 higher education credits, of which at least 60 higher education credits at advanced level, with content that is relevant to the graduate education or acquired in some other way within or outside the country.

Special eligibility for admission to graduate-level education in psychology is completed course requirements of at least 30 higher education credits in the main field of psychology at advanced level, of which at least 15 higher education credits consist of degree work at advanced level, or equivalent knowledge acquired within or outside the country.

Basis of assessment
Regulations for employment as a doctoral student can be found in regulation SFS 1998:80. Only those who have been admitted to education at research level may be appointed. When appointing, attention must be paid primarily to the degree of ability to assimilate the postgraduate education. Applicants are assessed based on:

  • The quality of previous writings, such as master's theses, published reports and other relevant research outputs.
  • Previous experience of clinical and/or research-related work with issues related to diagnostic procedures for mental health problems (and especially depression, anxiety and/or stress problems).
  • Consideration may also be given to previous studies and work experience of relevance.
  • Good collaborations and communication skills.

Application procedure
The application is made electronically via Lund University's applicant portal. The application must contain:

  • Personal letter in English or Swedish (max. 4 pages) containing a presentation of the applicant, significant qualifications in relation to the project, and a brief description of why the applicant is interested in the project and the doctoral program at the Department of Psychology at Lund University.
  • CV that shows eligibility for the doctoral program.
  • Degree certificate.
  • Relevant essays or examples of written works.
  • Published articles if any (also works well with manuscripts that are "under review" or "in revision").
  • Names and contact details of two references.

Time-limited employment with monthly salary for four years according to HF ch. 5 § 7.

Type of employment Temporary position
First day of employment 2023-09-01 or by appointment
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2023/1682
  • Hannah Stén, HR partner,
  • Assoc Prof Oscar Kjell, PI,
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-2229362
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet,
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-2229366
Published 12.Jun.2023
Last application date 06.Aug.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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