Semantic Web Research Assistant (RA)

Department - Montana State University Library, Bozeman

Supervisor - Kenning Arlitsch, Dean of the Library

see Relevant MSU Coursework

Job Overview:

We are seeking a research assistant with software development skills interested in improving their knowledge and experience of Semantic Web topics by conducting applied research in one, or more, of the following areas:

  1. Semantic Web applications
  2. Linked Open Data (LOD) integration
  3. Ontology modeling and reasoning
  4. Metadata enhancement, reconciliation, and aggregation via web services
  5. RDF graphs and serialization

Job Description:

This job is ideal for graduate students that want to develop marketable computer software engineering and business skills relevant to software development and computer science jobs in Semantic Web “Big Data,” high traffic web analytics, social media, or commercial search engines after graduation.  

The Semantic Web Research Assistant is a computer science job that assists the co-Principal Investigators of a federally funded grant in analyzing, developing, and implementing solutions to improve large scale library digital repository content accessibility and visibility via commercial search engines (e.g., Google, Bing, Facebook).  Some of this work will include software development for capturing and transforming data from authoritative sources to enhance metadata records via the Semantic Web.  He/she works closely with the Principle Investigators, Semantic Web Analyst, web developers, system admins, and data managers to design and test prototypes, report on findings, and maintain records of work to support published papers, presentations, and industry best practices.  

Expectations of the Semantic Web Research Assistant include the identification, analysis, evaluation, setup, and execution of solution sets.  For example, Principal Investigators will select standards (e.g.,RDF/XML, OWL-DL) and tools (e.g., Google Refine, ontology editor(s), DL reasoner(s), etc.). The Semantic Web RA will work closely with the Principal Investigators on modeling, analysis, prototyping, and evaluating solutions.

The Semantic Web Research Assistant (RA) will:

  1. Develop opportunities to co-author peer reviewed paper(s) and present at national conferences.
  2. Help identify, implement, and when necessary, provide ideas on creating or improving relevant Upper Level ontologies.
  3. Develop methods (i.e., algorithms) to apply universal concepts to undeclared instances within large data sets being used within operational academic library environments.
  4. Extract and convert data from relational databases to Resource Description Framework (rdb2rdf)
  5. Markup data to express as both human and machine readable.
  6. Other duties may be assigned as needed.

Required Qualifications:

  1. Experience working in LAMP (Linux/shell, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl), or similar, web environments.
  2. Experience with web development using JavaScript, PHP, or similar scripting language.
  3. Experience using Python, or similar programing language.  
  4. Experience working with one, or more, data-interchange standards (i.e., XML, JSON, RDF, etc.)  
  5. Understanding of RESTful web services and experience incorporating APIs into web development.

The  Successful Candidate will have:

  1. a strong desire to learn
  2. a creative ability to solve complex problems
  3. an appreciation for iterative Agile software development methods

Preferred Education or Equivalent Knowledge (one, or more, a plus):

Software Engineering

  1. MSU ESOF 322 - Software Engineering (SE 322, CS 351)

Computer Science

  1. MSU CSCI 232 - Data Structures and Algorithms (CS 223)
  2. MSU CSCI 432 - Advanced Algorithm Topics (CS 324)
  3. MSU CSCI 446 - Artificial Intelligence (CS 436)
  4. MSU CSCI 447 - Machine Learning: Soft Computing
  5. MSU CSCI 532 - Algorithms (CS 515)
  6. MSU CSCI 547 - Machine Learning (CSCI 547)
  7. MSU CSCI 548 - Reasoning Under Uncertainty               
  8. MSU CSCI 550 - Data Mining (CS 530)


Please email a cover letter and your resume, to Kenning Arlitsch, Montana State University Library Dean at with Semantic Web RA as the email “Subject.”

Application Deadline

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Review of applications will begin immediately.


Compensation is competitive and will reflect relevant knowledge (i.e, coursework) and experience.


The chance to improve academic visibility via co-authoring papers in peer-reviewed journals.

The convenience of working from the MSU campus library

Flexible work schedule averaging up to 20 hours per week - including school breaks.

Special Requirements & Disclaimers

Hiring will be conditional upon meeting all relevant legal requirements and MSU policies.

The duties and tasks included are representative of the position and not comprehensive. Duties may be added or deleted in the best interest of the organization and its patrons.

This position has funding only through October 31, 2014.  

Please e-mail or call Kenning Arlitsch at 406-994-6978 with any questions. Fax: 406-994-2851