Advisory Board

Dr. Leon Watts

Leon Watts, MSc, D.Phil is Research Ethics Officer for the Department of Computer Science, University of Bath, UK. He is also Director of Studies for the interdisciplinary graduate programme on Human Communication and Computing.
All research involves risk — it is about exploring new ideas or situations with unknown (or unverified) degrees of uncertainty. Inevitably, some of the risk in research extends to ethical matters. It is important to understand that CS research may be applied in contexts that have inherent risk, such as in systems for glass-cockpit flight controls or systems to support health care teams and systems to provide healthcare information. Some fields of CS research necessarily involve the participation of members of the public for testing and evaluation.
In such instances, the research must be planned so that rights and safety of participants (and research officers) are properly respected, and the activities they are asked to perform are properly explained. Ethical considerations apply to a wide range of institutional activity within the University of Bath. As Research Ethics Officer, his role is to the provide guidance and awareness of ethics considerations in research to my colleagues and students. He uses a self-checking scheme to help identify and manage ethical issues that may arise in CS research that involves public participation.
Leon coauthored A Practical Sense of Knowing: Exploring Awareness Strategies in a Mobile Workplace, Engaging in Email Discussion: Conversational Context and Social Identity in Computer-Mediated Communication, Managing visibility in ubiquitous multimedia communication environments, The Model of Relational Communication: explaining difficulties encountered through the use of technology in alternative dispute resolution, In Search of Coherence: A Review of E-Mail Research, A Dimension Space for the Design of Interactive Systems Within their Physical Environments, Peripheral participation in video-mediated communication, and Sustainability through engagement: Storytelling strategies as incentives for participation. Read the full list of his publications!
Leon earned his BSc (Honors) in Psychology at the University of Bradford in 1987, his MSc in Cognition, Computing, and Psychology at the University of Warwick in 1990, and his D.Phil in Psychology at the University of York in 1999.