Home » Code Of Conduct and Ways of Working

Code Of Conduct and Ways of Working

The eWorkLife team is a community. We value the participation of every member of our community and want to ensure everyone has an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, both professionally and personally. Accordingly, all members are expected to show respect and courtesy to others at all times. We create our culture and our culture is inclusive.

Please note that this code of conduct supplements, and does not trump, Department, Divisional and College level policies for your period of employment or study.

Inclusion and diversity

We value an inclusive and diverse research environment to support each individuals development and research, and to promote robust decision making and high quality research. All lab members are thus dedicated to a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, and/or religion. We do not tolerate harassment by and/or of members of our lab in any form and we also expect all members to support each other in upholding the following principals:

  • All communication, be it online or in person, should be appropriate for a professional audience, and be considerate of people from different cultural backgrounds. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate at any time.
  • Be kind to others, and do not insult or put down other lab members. We acknowledge that we will grow as a team, and learn from each other.
  • Behave professionally. Remember that harassment and sexist, racist, or exclusionary jokes are not appropriate.
  • Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of discussions, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
  • Members asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately.
  • Online communication may be public, such as in social media or via (purposeful or inadvertent) forwarding of emails. It is often sensible to be explicit if you require items to remain confidential, though note that we will try to be discrete where possible.
  • Lab members are not responsible for policing content of social media and members are individually responsible for considering the impact of the communication on others.
  • It is often best to resolve issues through direct communication, rather than embarrassing people publicly (e.g. via a social media mob).
  • Anna will discuss the code of conduct with group members who violate these rules, no matter how much they have contributed to the group, or how specialised their skill set. If inappropriate behaviour persists after this initial discussion, formal processes, in line with UCL’s policies, will commence.

Mental health

There is increasing evidence that certain attributes of research may challenge your mental health. Specific factors driving this include:

  • Low pay and quality-of-life issues, particularly as a function of living in a city as expensive as London
  • Feelings of isolation in your research; e.g. everyone has their own topic and it can often feel as if you are working on your own
  • Uncertainty in your research, although it should be noted that, in research of all kinds, it is not just the outcomes that are uncertain, but the questions themselves!
  • Uncertainty in your career
  • So-called “negative results”; i.e. at some point in your research it is likely that certain questions will be more challenging to answer than anticipated, or that you will feel you have spent days/months/years toiling with little to show
  • Burnout; i.e. feeling the need to work endless hours to make up for the above issues, and the subsequent exhaustion

All researchers (MSc, MEng, PhD, Post Doctoral, and Academic Staff) come across most of these issues at some level.

Anna strongly encourages everyone in the group to take an active and pre-emptive approach towards the maintenance of their mental health. We will encourage you to discuss work planning and prioritisation of tasks on a regular basis to help you stay focused and avoid unnecessary stress. We assure you that you have the time and resources needed for successful research. If there is anything that is placing you under undue stress, or preventing you from performing at your potential, please do not hesitate to let me know. Sharing these issues can reduce stress and help others be accommodating towards your needs, and we may be able to assist. Every effort will be made to help you access the right support networks.

Please also make yourself familiar with resources on campus:

Flexible working and annual leave

We work flexibly.

  • Full-time researchers and PhD students are expected to spend ~36.5 hours per week on their academic activities. Spending much less time than this risks making insufficient progress on your research. Spending much more time than this risks your mental health.
  • The scheduling of the hours that members of the lab choose to work is up to them. Lab members are able to work flexibly for any reason. Ideally, all lab members will have at least a few hours each week that overlap with my working hours and those of other group members in order to stay in touch on any challenges or successes. However, it is our policy that every member is already self-motivated and doesn’t need to work a traditional 9-5 day in order to reach their goals.
  • It is important to respect the time and efforts of others and avoid situations in which your own ability to work long hours might negatively impact someone else who doesn’t have the same flexibility.
  • It is also important to respect the contribution of funders. Where there are key time pressures, it is important to prioritise work.

We work hard but make time for fun. We take time off to rest and recuperate.

  • Research students (MPhil/PhD) are required to be in continuous attendance, apart from periods of leave to be taken in line with UCL staff holiday entitlements. This means that you are expected to be engaged in your research for twelve months of the year, except when on annual leave.
  • The leave year runs from 1st October until 30th September. Full-time staff and PhD students are entitled to 27 days annual leave. In addition, there are public holidays plus 6 additional days when UCL is customarily closed. These entitlements are pro-rata for part-time staff and part-time students.
  • Please inform Anna of holidays or notable absences ideally two weeks in advance. Permission for holiday is rarely required, but please respect key deadlines within the calendar year and respect that we work in a group.
  • It is important to take holiday, respect weekends (or time in lieu) and establish a sustainable work-life balance. If you struggle with establishing a sustainable work life balance, please discuss this with Anna at an early stage.


We prepare for one-to-one meetings. Please come to your supervision meeting ready to discuss:

  • Your progress against previously agreed action items
  • Questions or problem that you need help with
  • Your thoughts and plans, no matter how tentative they are. Be it a study you are thinking about, a paper you might write, an organisation you might collaborate with on your research, an internship you would like to apply for, some teaching you would like to do or your next career step – I want you to discuss it with me. You never know, I might have some useful advice I can share!

We will make notes during meetings and share them. If you don’t receive the notes please ask for them. If there are errors in them, please correct them asap. You will be held to account for delivering on agreed actions listed in the meeting notes.

We participate actively in our regular lab group meetings:

  • Members are expected to attend if they are not otherwise engaged in academic business (e.g. at conference, attending training or a lecture, etc)
  • Members are expected to show respect for others by paying attention during presentations and discussion. This includes, but is not limited to, putting their phones away.

We are each welcome to send emails and other messages over the weekend and late at night but no members are required to reply outside of their normal working hours.

The majority of intergroup communication occurs via Slack.

  • I suggest that you install the desktop client on your PC, or that you install a client on your mobile. You can (and probably should!) disable push notifications but please check it regularly when working to keep an eye on messages. Questions can often be quickly and easily answered in public channels, or via direct messaging on Slack. This does not mean you necessarily have to reply outside your working hours, but Slack should be treated as the main communication channel.
  • For most days, there is a daily catch up via geekbot on Slack. Please endeavour to reply (by noon) as this is a useful feedback mechanism to assist in providing focus for your own work and helping you with problems.
  • If you need help, ask. If you can help others, always offer.

In your work related life, you may wish to engage with social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Please be considerate of others when using these platforms, and respectful for how others may wish to use them. Anna has a work-related Facebook page and is happy to ‘friend’ you. She is also happy to connect on Twitter and LinkedIn. We are not compelled to engage with any social media, or use any media for work related purposes and we will never pressure each other to ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ each other.

Conducting Research

  • We read research papers and learn from them.
  • We value novelty and significance in new ideas.
  • We value soundness and correctness in our work.
  • We think critically.
  • We strive for excellence.
  • We take ownership of our contributions.
  • We are not afraid to fail and always celebrate success.
  • We accept that mistakes happen, acknowledge them and learn from them.
  • We give everything away. Our ideas, our preprints, our data, our code. We never worry about people stealing our ideas. If they’re any good, we’ll have to ram it down their throats anyway! If you are concerned about sharing something for whatever reason, please discuss with me as soon as possible.

Manuscript writing

Embrace disseminating your work. It is part of being a good researcher.

Papers and chapters take time to write and the first few drafts are always rubbish. Please start writing as early as possible and ask for regular feedback. This will help you write better papers.It usually takes at least 12 drafts -that’s 6 drafts from you, and 6 rounds of comments from me- to produce a paper that stands a good chance of being accepted – really!

Please give at least a week’s notice when you ask for feedback. Ideally, plan and agree deadlines to give me each of the 6 drafts you’re going to need to write to get your manuscript up to standard. If you leave writing to the last minute, you are asking your co-authors to give up their free time to help make your paper as good as it can be. Do everything you can to avoid writing or polishing a paper just before the deadline. We would much rather help you with your paper during my normal working hours.

PhD students should aim to submit a conference paper in their second and third years. They should also aim to publish a journal paper each year after their second year.

Where possible, all outputs will be published ‘Open Access’ (OA) (preferably Gold or Diamond OA; for definitions, please see the Open Research Glossary). Where Gold OA is not possible, the manuscript should be made publicly available via Green OA and must be placed in UCL’s RPS system within three months of acceptance. ucl.ac.uk/isd/how-to/research-publications-service-rps.

We provide supplementary materials with our papers wherever possible.

Data to support a paper, at a minimum the CSVs of tabulated data, image figures, and associated videos, for each paper must be collated together with a metadata file (to describe the attached files) and uploaded to OneDrive folder and shared with me.


Collaborate often and always acknowledge the work of others.

Authorship on any manuscript or presentation will be openly discussed in supervision meetings and we aim to be inclusive of everyone who has made a significant contribution to the work being presented. A “significant contribution” can include but is not limited to development of ideas, or collection of, or interpretations of data presented in the work. We base authorship on the following 4 criteria:

  • Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
  • Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; AND
  • Final approval of the version to be published; AND
  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

As a group, we will endeavour to encourage an open dialogue about this, and ideally authorship check-ins will occur several times over the lifetime of the study. Please discuss with me who, outside of your supervision team, might be an author before approaching them.

You must request permission before submitting a paper for peer review, and have all authors’ acknowledgement that they are content for the paper to be submitted (even after re-review). If you need assistance with this process, please speak to me.

The order list of authors will typically follow the conventions of our field: the lead author will normally lead writing of the document; other significant up-front positions are dictated by the approximate percentage contribution made by each author. Latter author positions are often held by supervisors of the work. Where conflict arises, I will facilitate discussion to help resolve this.

Where possible, we will include an author contribution statement as part of a paper. A good example of this practice can be found in Early et al (2018 Understanding Gender Equity in Author Order Assignment ). We will also acknowledge the contributions of those who do not fulfil all the criteria for authorship in the acknowledgements section, having sought their permission to do so.

Conference attendance

It is encouraged that each PhD student attend at least one major international conference (which may be in the UK) during their studies. Attendance is normally dependent on having had a submission accepted for presentation. Group members are encouraged to apply for research grants to supplement their conference and workshop attendance.

For other researchers in the group, your attendance at conferences will depend on the nature of your project. Please discuss expectations when you start your project. If you are applying for external funding to join the lab, please include conference travel as part of your application.

If you wish to attend an international conference, please discuss this with me in the first instance.

For poster presentations: you are required to submit a draft poster for review by me at least two weeks before you are due to leave for the conference.This provides enough time for review and printing of the poster. You should base your design on the #betterposter design suggested by @mikemorrison – see twitter.com/mikemorrison/status/1110191245035479041?s=20 for guidance on how to do this. Fabric posters from http://www.scienceposters.co.uk/ are reasonably priced (add their logo for a 20% discount) and quick to get printed and delivered. They are also easier to carry when traveling than a paper poster.

For oral presentations: please share a complete slide deck two weeks before the conference when you should also aim to give a practice talk with group members (at our weekly meeting). For repeat presentations, please share slides in advance, even if you are not doing a practice talk.


All computers should be backed up, daily, to an off-site, ‘cloud’-based storage system such as OneDrive.


This Code of Conduct (CoC) borrows heavily and is modified from several existing CoCs: (i) BasinsIC (ii) BahlaiLab CoC; (iii) WhitakerLab; (iv) Hill Lab, (v) ExpMicroMech (vi) Software Quality Research Lab and others who have shared their CoC and Ways Of Working on Twitter. Thanks also to former A-Team-ers who provided feedback on an earlier draft.