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Trust, transparency and invisible interactions in collaborative and groupware systems (Advert Reference: RDF20/EE/CIS/VASILIOU)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 24, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Within early work on workplace computerisation and groupware, understanding the dynamics of a “process” or flow of information has been a central interest for the CSCW community. Designing collaborative systems competent to support complex social interactions requires a deep understanding of how people and groups work together to achieve shared goals. But with far more pervasive and ubiquitous technologies available on our fingertips, the ability to be fully aware and accountable for the data you share is quite problematic.

How do we address such issues of invisible interactions when designing collaborative systems, with a particular focus on workplace settings? How do we keep our users aware and accountable for the boundaries of data sharing practices - across teams, across departments, across agencies or even across devices? What level of visibility allows workers to trust the sharing practices in an organisation fully?

The project will involve the combination of computer science and psychology principles to understand the levels of transparency in data sharing practices, investigate interaction design features for sharing awareness and explore the users’ perception of accountability. The successful candidate could focus on ethnographic investigations, cognitive studies on awareness in data sharing tools, or propose and evaluate new design features for visibility. While the advertisement sets the background for the potential area of work for the successful PhD candidate, there is still much scope to tailor the topic to the skills, knowledge and interests of the successful candidate.

This project is well suited to a motivated and hard-working candidate with a keen interest in human-computer interaction, user experience, cognitive aspects and new technologies. A Master’s degree or experience in a relevant field (e.g. human-computer interaction (HCI), user experience, user studies) will be considered an advantage.

The candidate will join the NorSC Lab, in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences.

This project is supervised by Dr Christina Vasiliou. The second supervisor will be Professor Pam Briggs.

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. RDF20/EE/CIS/VASILIOU) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020
Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU/ Worldwide students where a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A. and Zaphiris, P., 2019. From behaviour to design: implications for artifact ecologies as shared spaces for design activities. Behaviour & Information Technology, pp.1-18.

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A., Stylianou-Georgiou, A. and Zaphiris, P., 2017. A Glance into Social and Evolutionary Aspects of an Artifact Ecology for Collaborative Learning through the Lens of Distributed Cognition. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 33(8), pp.642-654.

Vasiliou, C., Ioannou, A. and Zaphiris, P., 2015. An artifact ecology in a nutshell: A distributed cognition perspective for collaboration and coordination. In IFIP Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 55-72). Springer, Cham.

Rainey, J., Montague, K., Briggs, P., Anderson, R., Nappey, T. and Olivier, P., 2019. Gabber: Supporting Voice in Participatory Qualitative Practices. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 377). ACM.

Sillence, E., Briggs, P. and Harris, P.R., 2018. Revisiting the Issue of Trust in E-Health. In Web-Based Behavioral Therapies for Mental Disorders (pp. 241-259). IGI Global.

Thomas, L., Briggs, P., Hart, A. and Kerrigan, F., 2017. Understanding social media and identity work in young people transitioning to university. Computers in Human Behavior, 76, pp.541-553.

Thomas, L. and Briggs, P., 2014. An older adult perspective on digital legacy. In Proceedings of the 8th nordic conference on human-computer Interaction: Fun, fast, foundational (pp. 237-246). ACM.

Other relevant reading:
Dourish, P . 2001. Process Descriptions As Organisational Accounting Devices: The Dual Use of Workflow Technologies. Proceedings of the 2001 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work (New York, NY, USA, 2001), 52–60.

Ellison, N.B. et al. 2018. Without a Trace: How Studying Invisible Interactions Can Help Us Understand Social Media. Companion of the 2018 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (New York, NY, USA, 2018), 129–132.

Suchman, L. 2007. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. Cambridge University Press.

Wolf, C.T. 2016. Seeing Work: Constructing Visions of Work in and Through Data. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Supporting Group Work (New York, NY, USA, 2016), 509–512.

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