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Research Assistant/Associate (Blockchain Data Researcher) (Fixed Term)


Research Assistant £25,728 - £30,688 or Research Associate £31,604 - £38,833

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 12 months in the first instance.

We are looking to recruit a qualified and highly motivated Postdoctoral Research Associate. The position is for an individual who has recently finished (or is close to completion of) a PhD in Computer Science or a related discipline, and has the experience and skills as listed below. The successful individual will join a vibrant research group that works primarily on computer systems and networking in the world-leading Department of Computer Science and Technology.

The blockchain technology promises to be an open, distributed ledger of recorded transactions between parties that is verifiable and immutable. The technology promises facilitating and tracking transactions, while preventing redundant transactions, and without the need for a central authority or a third party. This is usually called a smart contract.

A blockchain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block and transaction data. Since a blockchain is a distributed ledger, it is managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively.

The blockchain technology exposes areas that require technical research into network size, scalability, transaction costs, network speed and collusion attacks. Moreover, the cryptocurrency industry (a direct application of the blockchain technology) is awashed with problems of unreliable information, hype, bot-run Web and social media campaigns and scams. Research is required in order for detecting inorganic traffic on social media as well as forums to mitigate astroturfing campaigns, understanding user perspective for granular understanding of the cryptocurrency industry through natural language processing techniques.

Main duties:

  • Perform high quality research into determining types and variants of blockchain technology
  • Perform state-of-the-art literature review for problems associated with network size, scalability, transaction costs and network speed
  • Collect on-chain data for block creation and transactions performed to investigate above problems
  • Collect social media data (such as from Twitter) to detect inorganic traffic
  • Detect astroturfing campaigns and scams by iterating organic traffic detection research
  • Perform sentiment analysis using natural language processing for social media and forum data

Desired experience and skills

  • Evidence of success in research and critical thinking
  • Proven track record of high quality research in social media data analysis
  • Exposure to collection, curation and consumption of large data-sets is a essential
  • Knowledge and recent work related to social bot detection on online social networks is highly desirable
  • Knowledge and recent work making use of exploratory data science, machine learning and natural language processing is highly desirable
  • Knowledge and recent work creating open source software is highly desirable
  • Experience of articulating research and presenting at conferences is highly desirable

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

This position can be filled by an appropriate candidate at research assistant or research associate level, depending on relevant qualifications and experience. Appointment at research associate level is dependent on having a PhD (or equivalent experience). Where a PhD has yet to be awarded appointment will initially be made as a research assistant and amended to research associate when the PhD is awarded.

Please ensure you upload your Curriculum Vitae (CV) (including publication list) and a brief statement of the contribution you would make to the project. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please quote reference NR15780 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Apply online