Turing-LIDA Data Study Group – Call for Challenge Principal Investigators

Turing-LIDA Data Study Group 2021 – Call for Principal Investigators

The Turing-LIDA Data Study Group will present the opportunity for industry, government or third sector organisations to work with teams of data scientists to address ‘data challenges’, with the aim to identify solutions to critical business problems. The DSG challenges will be in the broad areas of urban, geospatial and consumer data.

LIDA is currently seeking a maximum of six keen data scientists interested in becoming Challenge Principal Investigators, to each lead a data challenge in collaboration with an industry, government or third sector organisation and the Alan Turing Institute. An honorarium of £1,500.00 will be paid to PIs in recognition of the importance of the role and the significance of the task.*

Profile of a DSG PI

The DSG PI is an early career researcher or post-doc, or in some cases an experienced final year PhD student coupled with a more senior academic. The opportunity is aimed at researchers who are interested in, but have not yet had the chance to fully develop their experience in industrial collaboration. As long as the PI is familiar with and has an understanding of the research techniques to be used, and is open to experiment with different approaches, it is not necessary for the challenge focus to match to the PI’s research area.

The DSG PI’s role outlined

  • To help turn a preliminary (and often loosely stated) challenge description into one suitable for a DSG, with potential for follow up work.
  • To liaise with a Challenge Owner (CO), from industry, government or third sector to scope and prepare the challenge.
  • To consider the type of data being provided (e.g. data sensitivity tiers and how that will affect the participant experience during the DSG).
  • To submit an application for ethical review to the appropriate University panel.
  • To work closely with the Challenge Facilitator.
  • After the DSG: The PI will assist with the preparation of the final challenge report to be published on the Turing and LIDA websites and follow up on any ideas for potential further collaboration with the Challenge Owner.

The benefits to being a DSG PI are many. In the role you can:

  • Acquire further project management skills (bespoke training in the role will be provided by the Turing’s DSG team).
  • Fine tune your ability to generate multiple research projects from loosely defined questions.
  • Learn more about how research can be used to generate real world impact.
  • Learn about the opportunities and challenges of working at the cross section of industry and academia.
  • Grow your scientific and industrial network and help foster relationships between the Turing, your university and industry, which may develop into programme collaborations or even strategic partnerships.
  • Get involved with the Turing institute.
  • Be involved in multidisciplinary teams.


The DSG will run as an online event over a full two-week period, 12th to 23rd July, and there will as well be a certain amount of testing and prep done in the precursor week commencing 5 July. DSG PIs will take up their role approx 2 months prior to the event, to allow time to scope and develop the challenge and to build relationships with the Challenge Owner. Following the DSG the PI will assist with the production of the challenge report.

How much time needed?

You will need to engage with the role from around mid-May 2021 and to provide input up until the final reporting stage at some point after the DSG is completed in July. For challenge scoping we estimate 2 or 3 meetings with the CO, to draft the title, short description and long description, with a further couple of hours to finalise. The paperwork for seeking ethical approval should take an hour or two (this will depend on the nature of the challenge, but you will be able to copy from the long description). Data evaluation could take a little longer depending on the size and complexity of the data set. Work on the final report may take 3-4 days.

To get involved

To express your interest in being a DSG PI please send your 2-page CV, plus covering letter (outlining the reasons for your interest in becoming a PI and your relevant experience) to Rosaleen McDonnell, rmcdonnell@turing.ac.uk. Please also feel free to email Rosaleen with any queries.

Learn more about DSGs on the Alan Turing Institute website.

Deadline: Wednesday 12 May 2021

*The honorarium will be paid as a single payment once the event is over and the task is complete. Like your salary, the payment will be subject to tax and on costs. Arrangements for external PIs will vary slightly.