Research Associate

Edinburgh, UK
Jun 30, 2020
Jul 30, 2020
Medicine, Medical
Contract Type
Full Time
The School of Design wishes to appoint a Research Associate to support the EPSRC funded "Chatty Factories" research project, in the development of prototype digital ethnography tools relating to the delivery of the project.

The post holder will take a leading role in the detailed planning, co-ordination and completion of a phase of the work for this multidisciplinary project led by Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh.

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr. Dave Murray-Rust,

This is a full time (35hr per week), fixed term post for 7 months, commencing August 2020.
Salary is £33,797 - £40,322 per annum.

The closing date for this post is 28 July 2020, 5pm (GMT).

1. Job Details

Job title: Research Associate
School/Support Department: School of Design, Edinburgh College of Art
Unit: Design Informatics Research Centre

2. Job Purpose

The School of Design wishes to appoint a Research Associate to support the EPSRC funded "Chatty Factories" research project, in the development of prototype digital ethnography tools relating to the delivery of the project.
The post holder will take a leading role in the detailed planning, co-ordination and completion of a phase of the work for this multidisciplinary project led by Design Informatics, University of Edinburgh.
The post involves developing tools and techniques for continuous digital ethnography - an understanding of the way that things in the world are used, from the point of view of the objects themselves. The post-holder will be expected to lead the design and development of systems that capture object usage in a way that informs the redesign of those objects. The investigator will carry out machine learning, data analysis and ethnographic work alongside the development of technical interventions, to develop a rich context of use that supports the digital analysis of human behaviour. The post-holder will work closely with the lead investigators, and will be responsible for developing the research into working prototypes.
This is an interdisciplinary project, requiring expertise with digital technology as well as ethnographic methods appropriate to the research focus of the grant. The post-holder will be responsible for developing and deploying devices and techniques that are generated by the project, using appropriate research methodologies. A large degree of initiative and planning within the framework of the projects and services is required in order to meet agreed service and project milestones and deliverables, with overall direction and supervision provided by a senior colleague.
You should have a PhD in computer science, HCI or a related area of research. The post holder will have excellent oral and written communication skills, and demonstrable experience of successful project management and working as part of a team. You should be happy to write code, with at least a basic understanding of machine learning and data analysis.

Main Responsibilities
Approx. % of time
  • Carrying out the design and development of data visualisation, analysis and interaction techniques for continuous digital ethnography (50%)
  • Conducting ethnographic work using the prototypes and systems created (20%)
  • Analysing data collected through the ethnographies, evaluating methods and publishing results (20%)
  • Working with project partners towards a new form of responsive design process (10%)

  • 4. Planning and Organising
    • You will have to agree a general plan of research with the Principal Investigator and progress will be monitored at pre-scheduled meetings.
    • Develop strategies for the design and development of a continuous digital ethnography platform.
    • Lead the design of prototypes and data collection techniques.
    • Lead the installation of design interventions in social contexts in a safe manner to consider the interests of all participants.
    • Manage quantitative data collected, including verification of data entry to ensure accuracy of the resulting database and secure storage.

    A large degree of initiative and planning within the framework of the projects and services is required in order to meet agreed service and project milestones and deliverables, with overall direction and supervision provided by a senior colleague.

    5. Problem Solving

    The problems to be faced are scientific and technical and you will supply the detailed expertise for delivering solution. You will be expected to achieve this under instruction by and with advice from the principal Investigator and other academic and senior research staff.

    Problem solving will be required to ensure the effective running and completion of the work. Problems may include such aspects as:
    a) Difficulty in developing a appropriate methods for digital ethnography.
    b) Difficulty in connecting technical components in a secure manner
    c) Difficulty in preventing the development from spiralling through feature creep.
    The job-holder will be expected to think independently at times (such as in resolving example (b) above) and use his or her judgement over when to involve the Principal and Co-Investigators (such as in relation to example (a)).
    Some problem-solving will require careful reference to protocols and procedures (e.g. University of Edinburgh ethical approval), and some will require exploration of good practice and precedent, including seeking expert advice.

    6. Decision Making

    As identified above, decisions will include judgement on when to refer problems to the Investigators.
    In general, the job-holder will be expected to make day-to-day decisions that support the good progress of the study and do not have scientific or budgetary implications that might be problematic. Such regular decision-making is likely to include: keeping investigators up to date with developments; maintenance of protocols for recording and storing all study data, in accordance with data protection legislation.
    Where decisions are needed that might result in significant changes to the objective, and especially those that might that warrant requests for changes in protocol, funding or timing, these must be resolved in discussion with Principal Investigator to ensure that any implications are predicted and planned for appropriately.

    7. Key Contacts/Relationships
    You will principally interact the Principal Investigator and other project staff. More generally, you will discuss the work, and questions of scientific interest, with other members of School. You will be expected to represent the University externally, by presenting their work at specialist meeting or workshops the relevant research area. You may also be required to provide advice and support to relevant students.

    External contacts will include liaison with co-investigators, with funders, steering committee members and observers, other researchers and research partners, stakeholders and shops and shopping groups and individuals associated with the study to support the work of the project.

    8. Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job

    The following criteria are considered essential to the post:
    • Coding, ideally in Python and Javascript, ideally with some web development.
    • Experience in the use of computational methods to make sense of data (e.g. machine learning, time series analysis, classification).
    • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
    • Ability to disseminate results of research to a variety of audiences through written and oral presentations

    The following criteria are considered to be desirable
    • Prior experience of working with a design team to support your work.
    • Experience with ethnographic methods.
    • Experience with deploying digital electronics

    9. Dimensions

    Regular internal contact with Principle Investigator: Dr. Dave Murray-Rust.

    10. Job Context and any other relevant information

    The project forms part of a larger programme of research ("Chatty Factories") with partners in Cardiff, Nottingham, Lancaster and Bath Spa, exploring new approaches to integrating design into the manufacturing process. Building upon existing technologies that exist in the wild, the design process will lead to technical interventions that demonstrate the possibility of adjusting manufacturing processes in real time, responding to actual product usage.

    Application Procedure

    All applicants should apply online by clicking the apply link at the bottom of this page. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

    You will be notified by email whether you have been shortlisted for interview or not.

    The closing date for this post is 28 July 2020, 5pm (GMT).

    Right to Work

    In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).
    To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

    For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

    If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:
  • Global Talent: If you are an academic, researcher or technical specialist in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Global Talent visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by an endorsing body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech Nation, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website
  • Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

  • Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has
    • ended or expired.
    • the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and
    • you are either:
    o applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
    o you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed ('switched') into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.

    You must wait 12 months before applying again.

    Conditions of Employment

    Pension Scheme
    This role is grade UE07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

    For further information please visit our Pensions website .


    The role is grade UE07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,797 - £40,322 for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

    The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.
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