Skip to content

Student Vacation Research Assistant: Exploring the role of social networks in the habituation of mobile device use - Open to current University of Worcester students only*

Research Assistantships provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV.


Mobile devices are unique in the context of technology in their heavy bias towards secondary task that interrupt primary tasks (Pohl & Murray-Smith 2013). In this regards mobile devices are typically far more intrusive than desktops of laptops and the predominant form of these interruptions is the mobile notification system. Social networking applications being the most common source of mobile notifications.
These interruptive notifications act as a significant cue to a behaviour response (i.e. a notification will trigger a desire to check social network status). In such situations where sufficiently repeated it is likely that these behaviour responses will become habituated (Verplanken & Aarts 1999).

This research project will examine the role of social networks in forming habituated behavioural responses with mobile devices. This research will form part of a larger research agenda examining the role of habit formation in our use of mobile and IoT technologies. The work will be undertaken in collaboration with the Dr Benjamin Cowan (School of Information & Library Studies, University College Dublin).

The Vacation Research Assistant will develop and deploy suitable survey tools that gather reliable and valid data on habit formation/strength, social network use and perceived workload. The resulting data will be examined to identify any significant interactions between habit formation and social network use.

Measuring habit is notoriously difficult. This study will make use of the Self-Report Habit Index which is known to be a reliable and valid metric when applied correctly. The project will make use of existing survey tools resources already in place (LimeSurvey). The research assistants time will be allocations as follows:

• Research appropriate survey metrics (50 hours).
• Build and pilot a suitable survey tool (25 hours).
• Recruit participants and deploy survey (25 hours).
• Undertake analysis of data and assist with writing up findings (50 hours).

*Please note that this post is open only to students completing the penultimate or final year of an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) at the University of Worcester or partner institutions;
Students completing, or who have completed, an undergraduate degree at another university (with 1st or 2:1 predicted/achieved) who are about to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester.

Closing date: Wednesday 31 May 2017

Reference number: STUVRA1706 - 2005

Job details

Job details

£8.44 per hour, plus £1.18 per hour holiday pay
Up to 37 hours per week
4 weeks full time (1.0 FTE) or part time equivalent (e.g. 8 weeks at 0.5 FTE)
Responsible to
Dr Chris Bowers
Responsible for
Interview date
w/c 5/6/2017

Worcester Business School

Explore the Worcester Business School

“We champion an imaginative ethos that combines sound business principles with instinctive commercial drive”
Mark Richardson, Head of Worcester Business School



The University of Worcester is funding 20 Vacation Research Assistantships for the summer of 2017. These Research Assistantships will provide undergraduates and recent graduates with ‘hands on’ experience of working on a research project over the summer vacation, enabling them to gain insight into a research career, as well as enhancing their CV. These are prestigious awards, marking out a student as a future researcher and potential academic. In addition, this scheme provides UW staff leading on a research project with invaluable support in taking the project forward and experience of supporting and developing a young researcher.

On completion of the project, the supervisor and student must complete a report providing the following information:
• Objectives set
• Objectives met
• Methods employed
• Results
• Conclusions
• Outputs
• Benefits to the student including training undertaken, skills developed, etc.

Main duties

Main duties

(1) Develop a survey tool based upon existing indexes that are know to have high validity and reliability.
(2) Recruit participants and deploy the survey tool.
(3) Gather the resultant survey data and undertake analyse with guidance from the principle investigator.
(4) Assist in writing up the results.

*Maintain personal and professional development to meet the changing demands of the job; participate in appropriate training activities and encourage and support staff in their development and training.

*Take steps to ensure and enhance personal health, safety and well being and that of other staff and students.

*Carry out these duties in a manner that promotes equality of opportunity and supports diversity and inclusion, and takes into account the University's commitment to environmentally sustainable ways of working.
Person specification

Person specification

Please provide evidence of how you meet each of the essential criteria.


1. Familiarity with current social networks and the mobile phone eco-system.
2. Have excellent communication skills.


1. Some experience creating and deploying digital surveys.
2. Some awareness of qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques.

Applications from Non EEA Workers:

Prospective applicants are advised to ensure that they are eligible to work in the UK without restriction.

Prospective applicants in points-based system immigration routes should assess their circumstances against the published criteria, which are set out on the GOV.UK website at

Visit for more information on how you can use a qualification from outside the UK to meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs

The University is strongly committed to the fair treatment of its staff and potential staff, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, responsibility for dependants, age, physical/mental disability or offending background.

In line with the University's policy on the Recruitment of People with a Criminal Record, shortlisted candidates are required to provide information of any unspent convictions, cautions and bind-overs. Applicants are advised to seek independent advice if there is any doubt about the status of a previous conviction, caution or bind-over. Disclosures will only be considered at the point when an offer of employment is made. The existence of a criminal record will not in itself prevent you from gaining employment.

This is a description of the job as it is presently constituted. This job description is intended to enable a flexible approach to be offered working across the University as required. It is subject to review and amendment in the light of changing needs of the University and to provide appropriate development opportunities. Members of staff are expected to participate fully in discussions about changing requirements and it is the University's aim to reach agreement to reasonable change. If agreement is not possible, it reserves the right to require changes to the job description after consultation with the individual concerned.

Apply for this job