Professorial banding disciplinary norms and expectations

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Department/School: Information Security Group
Discipline (only if different to the above): Computer Science (Social Science)
Faculty: Science
I confirm that the discipline norms detailed below were completed following consultation with Professors in the department, and have been verified by an external advisor.
Completed by: Prof. Keith Martin Date: 24/07/2014


  1. What are the top-rated forms of research work in your discipline? E.g. journal articles, monographs, editions

The top-rated forms of research are peer-reviewed articles in conference proceedings and journals (as for computer science). The respectability of an output venue is down to the esteem placed by the research community in that venue. However, different norms may apply for colleagues whose work is informed by the social sciences.

  1. What lesser publications such as encyclopaedia entries, programme notes, reviews etc. command respect in your discipline?

White papers, professional "magazine" articles, book chapters, and professional "blog style" web publications are appropriate means of knowledge and opinion dissemination, but do not tend to “command respect” from a REF-style perspective. Technical submissions to standards bodies and patents command respect from industry and government.

  1. What are the top-rated outlets for dissemination of research in your discipline? E.g. major publishers, top journals?

The very highest general research venues on computer science, such as Journal of the ACM and the STOC/FOCS conferences, are held in high esteem but less commonly targeted by information security researchers.

Next highest are the general-specialist journals, such as Journal of Cryptology, ACM Transactions (on Information and System Security/Programming Languages/Database Systems/...) and IEEE Transactions (on Information Theory/Dependable and Secure Computing/...), and proceedings of conferences such as Crypto, Eurocrypt, Asiacrypt, IEEE Security & Privacy, ACM CCS, Usenix Security,…
Then come topic-specific conferences, of which there are many, including the likes of NDSS, CSF, CHES, FSE, TCC, ESORICS, etc. Many of these proceedings (and some of the higher ones previously listed) are published in Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science series, while others are published through professional bodies such as IEEE and ACM.
Outlets for work informed by the social sciences are not fully covered in the above analysis.

  1. What are the guiding assumptions about sole authorship, PI status, percentage contribution, joint editorship, etc.?

Most papers have multiple authors (typically between 2 and 6), most often listed alphabetically. When this norm is strayed from, this is normally to indicate a major contribution from the first author (or occasionally a minor contribution from a last author). Sole authorship is relatively rare.

  1. What is the volume of productivity over what sort of timeline that might signify a.) a reasonable performance; b) a positive step-change for a professor in your discipline?

Publication rate is usually in single figures per year, but counts are not reliable measures of quality due to the wide range in quality of output venues. (Citation counts are also somewhat unreliable measures of research quality as research areas can be subject to going in and out of popularity.) Three "decent" publications per year (perhaps amongst a longer list) would be respectable. A step-change might be better measured by an increase in quality of publication and/or strong traceability to impact rather than quantity.

  1. What are the top-rated funding sources for Research in your discipline? E.g. ESRC, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome etc.

The main grant-awarding bodies are EPSRC, TSB and the EU. Most grants are fairly small and the main cost is staffing rather than equipment (one or two post-docs over three years would represent a significant grant). Level of achievement in grant income would be distinguished by serial success in grant applications. However this success depends heavily on research council and government priorities. The nature of the discipline also lends itself towards limited funding directly from industry and government; however these sources may have disclosure restrictions which can restrict academic publication and recognition.

  1. What levels of funding would you regard as indicating a) a reasonable performance; or b) high performance in your discipline?

This is hard to benchmark, since certain sub-disciplines are much more conducive to funding calls than others, while some research activities do not require external resources. In many cases it is quite possible for high value/impact research to be carried out without external funding. What also varies greatly is the significance of being co-PI on a research grant, since it is common for co-PIs to play major roles in applying and conducting projects. Very crudely, being either PI or co-PI on grants of £100,000 or more in any given year would probably be a reasonable performance. High performance would be acting as PI or co-PI on grants worth around £200,000 per year.

  1. Are invited lectures/ conference plenaries/ conference organization/ visiting professorships/ particularly significant in your discipline, and in what sort of ranked order?

Invited conference talks (keynote addresses), fellowships, visiting professorships, membership/chairing of conference programme committees, editorial board membership, membership of government/industry research panels, and expert advisory roles are all important measures of esteem. These are hard to rank, since the relevance of the related activity is probably the primary ranking metric.

  1. What awards, prizes and honours if any, are significant in your discipline?

Awards, prizes and honours are relatively uncommon. Some conferences in the field do offer best paper awards, but these are highly competitive.

  1. Membership of which learned societies or other discipline-specific groups or organizations carry weight in your discipline?

Membership of discipline-specific organisations is more an indication of engagement in the community rather than one of academic merit. Relevant organisations include the ISSA (Information Systems Security Association), IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), IACR (international Association for Cryptologic Research), ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) , BCS (British Computer Society), LMS (London Mathematical Society), IMA (Institute for Mathematics and its Applications), IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), IISP (Institute for Information Security Professionals). Being awarded a fellowship or similar membership level in one of the more academic of these institutions (e.g. IEEE, ACM, IACR, IET) would be a lifetime achievement.


  1. How many PhD students (in FTEs) would you expect to be supervised by Professors in your discipline?

Taking on one new PhD student per academic year is an expectation.

  1. What are the norms for contribution by Professors to Masters courses and their validation in your discipline?

As the majority of our teaching is at PGT level which includes a strong project based element, it is expected that a professor would teach the equivalent of three MSc level modules per year unless they hold major administrative posts. For most professors this would manifest itself in a combination of taught modules and project supervision (often this represents itself as one taught module and double figures of project supervisions). A professor would normally influence the teaching more widely through involvement in programme reviews or module redesign.

  1. What are the norms for Professors devising and teaching undergraduate courses in your discipline?

We teach a limited number of undergraduate modules, so there is no such norm.


  1. What are the norms for external involvement in your discipline within University of London, UK universities, international HE activity etc. that indicate a) a reasonable performance; b) a high performance?

There are no specific norms, but activities to look out for would include external examining at both national and international level, organisation of conferences, serving on programme committees, participation in summer schools, journal editorial boards, membership of academic advisory boards and review panels. A scattering of such involvements would be reasonable, and a steady flow would be high performance.

  1. What particular forms of external academic, and where relevant non-academic, impact would indicate an acceptable and high performance in your discipline?

There are no specific norms. However, there is significant potential for impact in the discipline. Impacts could be on the development of government policy, international standards or industry practice, for example. High performance could, for example, involve giving advice to a government department that significantly influences the direction of government policy. It could mean significant involvement in an international standardisation activity, for example, chairing a committee of a standards body or leading and/or contributing to the development of a particular standard.

  1. What kind and volume of Third Stream activity (including patents, spin-outs, outreach, knowledge transfer, consultancies, cultural interventions etc.) of benefit to the College etc. would be important in your discipline?

There are a wide range of third stream activities and they can come in many different forms. Patents and spin-outs are relatively rare. Consultancy is common. Outreach activities can take many forms; educational outreach extends from talks at schools through to engagement with residential workshops; industrial outreach extends from day meetings with industry. through to attendance and speaking at major industrial fora. Several such engagements per year would be reasonable, many such engagements would be high performance.


  1. What forms of leadership, internal and external, command respect in your discipline?

Internal leadership is normally demonstrated by holding significant internal departmental posts, such as Director of Teaching, Director of Research, Director of Graduate Studies, etc. External leadership posts might include post-holding for a professional association, playing a leading role in standardisation activities, running collaborative networks, workshop or conference initiation and chairing, senior editorial positions on journal boards, etc. Positive leadership can be also be demonstrated through high profile/impact expert tasks for industry and/or government.

  1. What forms of enhancement, such as support of improved performance by colleagues, command respect in your discipline?

Academic or professional body enhancement activities, such as mentoring, commands respect.

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