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  Natural Language Processing for Text Adaptation

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr Fernando Alva Manchego  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Lots of informative publicly available content is written in a language that may not be easy to understand by everyone. For example, the latest research on a disease, terms and conditions for using an app, documents in public administration, etc. Could we develop systems that automatically rewrite these types of documents so that a target reader can more easily understand them?

To accomplish the previous goal, we could work with several areas within Natural Language Processing. The main one would be Text Simplification, which aims to modify the content and structure of a text to make it easier to read and understand, while preserving its original meaning. Depending on the type of document and application, Text Summarization technology could also be included, aiming to generate a shorter version of the original text that contains the most relevant information. In addition, depending on the target reader, we could also consider a Machine Translation component, if the original texts are in one language (e.g. English) and the rewritten documents should be in another (e.g. Spanish).

Possible lines of research for a PhD that could be studied with the previous motivation are:

- Automatic Text Simplification for specific domains, such as medical, legal or public administration. Important progress has been done in simplifying news. However, tackling other domains incorporates new challenges, such as handling domain-specific terminology and reduced availably of resources.

- Readability-controlled Translation, combining Text Simplification with Machine Translation. Recent research has attempted to guide the “complexity” or readability of automatically translated texts. However, these works are limited in the type of documents explored, and progress has been measured only using automatic metrics, and not more reliable human judgments.

- Document-level Text Simplification, a more realistic use case for Simplification technology aiming to rewrite entire documents or webpages, instead of single sentences as is mostly done in current research. This line of work would potently involve Summarization technology as well.

Other projects could certainly be explored, depending on the specific research interests of the applicant. During their research, the PhD student would work on collecting appropriate datasets for training and evaluation, implementing machine learning models for the task, and designing suitable evaluation methodologies and metrics.

Contact for information on the project: [Email Address Removed]

Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject. Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

How to apply:

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below

Please submit your application before the application deadline 29th April 2022 via Computer Science and Informatics - Study - Cardiff University

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 

  • Supporting statement 
  • CV 
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD
  • In the funding field of your application, insert “I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship in Computer Science and Informatics”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

Interview - If the application meets the entrance requirements, you will be invited to an interview

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Computer Science (8)

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD Scholarship is available for entry 2022/23.
In the Funding field of your application, insert "I am applying for 2022 PhD Scholarship" and specify the project title and supervisor of this project in the fields provided.
This project is also open to Self-Funded students worldwide. If you are interested in applying for a Self-Funded PhD, please search FindAPhD for this specific project title, supervisor or School within its Scholarships category.


- Fernando Alva-Manchego, Carolina Scarton, and Lucia Specia. 2020. Data-Driven Sentence Simplification: Survey and Benchmark. Computational Linguistics, 46(1):135–187.
- Sweta Agrawal and Marine Carpuat. 2019. Controlling Text Complexity in Neural Machine Translation. In EMNLP-IJCNLP 2019.
- Ashwin Devaraj, Iain J. Marshall, Byron C. Wallace, and Junyi Jessy Li (2021). Paragraph-level Simplification of Medical Texts. In NAACL 2021.

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