Job Description: Research Associate in Visual Data Science

School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering at City, University of London

Released: 05/06/2017

Role Profile

Overview of the Post

Applications are invited for a 12 month research position within the “NlViS: Natural Language Interaction for Visual Data Analysis” project ( that is funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The project is led by giCentre at City and the technology company Redsift Inc. takes part as an industrial partner in the project.

NlViS is an innovative research project that aims to push the frontiers of exploratory data analysis through novel combinations of interactive visualisations and natural language understanding. The project aims to develop a fundamental understanding of how analysts can use natural language elements to perform visualisation empowered data analysis and use that understanding to develop a framework where natural language and visualisation based interactions operate in harmony. The project then aims to demonstrate how such a multi-modal interaction scheme can radically transform the analysts' experience within data science practices that involve human-machine collaboration. Overall, together with the right candidate, we will advance the role of visualisation and interaction within the expanding and increasingly influential field of data science.

Main Activities and Responsibilities

The successful candidate will be expected to have a Postgraduate degree in Computer Science or related fields. A PhD degree in a relevant discipline is highly desirable (either awarded or thesis submitted). The candidate will be expected to have expertise in visualisation, visual-analytics and human factors in visualisation design. In addition, experience in working with machine-learning techniques, in particular natural language processing and/or textual data analysis is highly positive. 

The candidate will contribute to the design and execution of user studies and will help design effective use cases. Moreover, the candidate will be expected to develop explorative data analysis prototypes within a system that involve a conversational agent, therefore a good knowledge of programming, preferably in JavaScript, D3, and/or other popular programming languages such as Python, Java, and/or R is required.

Key Tasks

The key tasks of the appointee to this research are to:

•    To carry out research both independently, as part of the research team in the project, and also within giCentre at City, University of London
•    To ask fundamental questions on the role of visualisation and interaction in data science
•    Participate in the design and execution of online and in-person user studies
•    Develop, together with the Investigator, a theoretical framework that underpins the interaction strategies
•    Implement interactive prototypes and realise use-cases through close collaboration with the researchers based within the industrial partner
•    Prepare and make presentations on the work at the University and/or at major meetings and conferences
•    Write up the work, in collaboration with the Investigator and other partners, for journal and/or conference publications and/or reports for presentation.
•    Take part in the organisation of related workshops, meetings, and events held during the course of the project.

Candidate Specification


•    Background in Computer Science and/or related engineering discipline with a strong programming experience
•    Preferably a PhD degree in Visualisation or a related discipline or an equivalent record of post-graduate level research with significant experience.
•    A strong academic background with a  relevant publication record of original research of high standard


•    A strong academic background and interest in data visualisation and data science in general
•    Experience in designing/developing interactive exploratory data analysis methods
•    Experience in developing (prototypical) software using modern programming languages (e.g., Javascript, Python, Java, etc.)
•    Experience in designing an executing user studies (desired)
•    Experience in working with textual data and natural language models (desired)

Abilities and Skills

•    Demonstrate an interest and competence in research within exploratory data analysis through visualization and natural language interaction
•    Curiosity about and an ability to ask fundamental questions on the role of visualisation and interaction in data science
•    Ability to work well within a team of researchers, with a desire to take initiative and play a leading role in the specification and development of solutions, and reporting of the proposed research.
•    Ability to meet deadlines and work under tight time scales. 
•    Good verbal and written communication skills including presentation skills. 
•    Interpersonal skills appropriate for communication within the University, with external partners and with the wider academic community

Salary and Conditions of Service

Main Conditions

The salient features of Conditions for Academic staff are as follows:

•    The salary will be on £36,001. This is on Grade 6 of the salary scales for Academic staff.
•    Annual Leave is 30 days, plus 8 statutory and 4 additional days during the Christmas holiday period. 

•    You will be automatically entered into the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) with the option to opt out.    
•    This post is full time but fixed – term for 12 months.

•    All offers of appointment are subject to the University receiving satisfactory references and medical clearance.

•    All posts at City University are subject to reasonable adjustment under the Equalities Act (2010).
•     All appointments at City University are subject to a probationary period.

When preparing your application, you should address carefully the post details enclosed and in particular the qualities outlined in the Person Specification.  Please include examples where appropriate.

All applications must be received by 11.59 pm on 13th July 2017.


Applications are made through the formal application forms on City's application pages.