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  Supporting work-life balance in the gig economy (Advert Reference: RDF19/EE/CIS/CECCHINATO)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr M Cecchinato  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship in the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) for Digital Living, to work with Dr Marta Cecchinato in the Department of Computer and Information Science. The PhD will explore how to support gig-economy workers in achieving better work-life balance that will ultimately improve their wellbeing and help them be more efficient at getting things done. Work-life balance is a topic that concerns many but very little work has focused on understanding best practices for supporting people in getting things done whilst maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These issues are particularly challenging in the gig economy, where the working context and conditions may vary considerably between jobs. Platform workers do not have the same support that office workers can rely on (e.g., training, HR offices and line managers). Similarly, for content creators on social media their personal life often becomes their job (for example, by monetising daily vlogs), further blurring those work-home boundaries and leading to stress and other mental health issues. Existing practical resources for managing work-life balance are limited, mostly rely on localised interventions, and their efficacy is not well understood.

Candidates will have backgrounds in either Computer or Information Science, HCI, Design (industrial or interaction), Psychology or the Social Sciences (other areas will be considered provided candidates can demonstrate sufficient interest/experience in HCI). Candidates
with experience in conducting fieldwork or with maker skills will be preferred. The successful applicant will join the growing multidisciplinary collective of HCI researchers at Northumbria University, NORTH Lab (, one of the UK’s largest and most prolific communities of HCI researchers. You will become an active member of our vibrant research community and will be supported to develop your career through publication of your research and international conference attendance.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/EE/CIS/CECCHINATO) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/9, this is £14,777 pa).


Cecchinato, M.E., Cox, A. L., & Bird, J. (2017). Always On(line)? User Experience of
Smartwatches and their Role within Multi-Device Ecologies. Proceedings of the SIGCHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing systems. Denver, CO.

Cox, A.L., Gould, S., Cecchinato, M.E., Iacovides, I., Renfree, I. (2016). Design Frictions for
Mindful Interactions: The Case for Microboundaries. Proceedings CHI ’16 Extended Abstracts
on Human Factors in Computing Systems. San Jose, CA.

Cecchinato, M.E., Cox, A.L., Bird, J. (2016, May). Work-Life Balance through Tangibles and the
Internet of Things. Tangibles4Health Workshop, ACM CHI, San Jose, CA.

Cecchinato, M.E., Cox, A.L., & Bird, J. (2015). Working 9-5? Professional Differences in Email
and Boundary Management Practices. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human
Factors in Computing systems. Seoul, South Korea.