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PhD Studentship: Understanding and Improving the User Experience of Generative AI-assisted Information Seeking and Retrieval

City, University of London - Department of Computer Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: Annual tax-free stipend of £21,000 per year
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd November 2023
Closes: 14th January 2024

This PhD studentship will involve understanding and improving the user experience of generative AI-assisted information seeking and retrieval by conducting rigorous qualitative or mixed-methods user research.

It will involve conducting research aimed at understanding a key aspect of how users interact with AI-integrated search and discovery environments, such as search engines, and using this understanding to inform the design of these environments by making design recommendations, or by co-designing and evaluating prototype systems with users.

Key aspects of user interaction you could focus on include investigating how to seize important opportunities presented by genAI-assisted information seeking and retrieval, such as augmenting human information synthesis and decision-making skills or sparking creativity and serendipitous information discovery. Alternatively, you could focus on investigating how to reduce important risks, such as spreading mis/disinformation, manipulating peoples’ views and decisions and negatively impacting learning by restricting user agency in information synthesis.

This is an opportunity to conduct research of high societal importance and to create strong research impact beyond academia. 

Eligibility and requirements 

You should have a postgraduate degree (e.g. MSc, MA) in Human-Computer Interaction, Information Science, or a related discipline (e.g., Computer Science, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Library Science, Information Retrieval). You should demonstrate aptitude for original research of societal importance. 

Studentship details

The studentship is for 3 years and will provide an annual tax-free stipend of £21,000 and 50% of tuition fees (Home or Overseas).

Each student can also earn around £2,200/year through a teaching assistantship. 

Essential experience

You should have experience in…

  • Using one or more qualitative data collection approaches, such as interviews, observations, diary studies, ethnographic approaches.
  • Using one or more qualitative data analysis approaches, such as Thematic Analysis, Grounded Theory, Interaction Analysis or a general inductive qualitative approach.

Desirable experience

  • Using one or more Qualitative Data Analysis tools to support your analysis (e.g., NVivo, Atlas.Ti, Dovetail, MaxQDA);
  • Using findings from your qualitative research to inform the design of digital environments;
  • Having published (or demonstrating the aptitude and enthusiasm publish) high-quality papers in reputable peer-reviewed conferences and journals.

How to apply

Apply here: PhD/MPhil Computer Science, City, University of London

As part of your application, submit a statement of interest explaining why this PhD area interests you and how you meet the essential (and optionally the desirable) criteria above and a sample of your academic writing. This should be a single piece of work (e.g., an academic paper, dissertation or individual project, or coursework).

For queries on the application process, contact pgr.sst.enquire@city.ac.uk

We invite you to contact Dr. Stephann Makri (Stephann@city.ac.uk) to arrange an informal discussion before submitting your application. 

City, University of London is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all its activities, processes, and culture for our whole community, including staff, students and visitors.

We welcome applications regardless of age, caring responsibilities, disability, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital status, nationality, pregnancy, race and ethnic origin, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation and socio-economic background. City operates a guaranteed interview scheme for disabled applicants.

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