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    As schools become suffused with ed-tech, is the only response to constant surveillance the right to remain silent?

As schools become suffused with ed-tech, is the only response to constant surveillance the right to remain silent?

The growing prevalence of ed-tech in schools has prompted concerns over the ability of students (and parents) to develop informed decisions towards how, why, when and who uses school data. As technologies increasingly make record of students’ every word and move, Velislava Hillman asks whether the constant monitoring, micromanagement and data collection of students can guarantee a safe environment […]

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    Big Qual – Why we should be thinking big about qualitative data for research, teaching and policy

Big Qual – Why we should be thinking big about qualitative data for research, teaching and policy

When social scientists think about big data, they often think in terms of quantitative number crunching. However, the growing availability of ‘big’ qualitative datasets presents new opportunities for qualitative research. In this post, Lynn Jamieson and Sarah Lewthwaite explore how ‘big qual’ can be deployed as a distinct research methodology to develop new forms of qualitative research and elucidate complex […]

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    Our Profile(d) Selves: How social media platforms use data to tell us who we should be

Our Profile(d) Selves: How social media platforms use data to tell us who we should be

Social media platforms have become an everyday feature of modern life. One feature common to these platforms is the creation of a user profile. These profiles are vital for social media companies to make money from data analytics and targeted advertising. In this post, Lukasz Szulc explores how social media platforms translate this data-driven business model into the design […]

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    What does Facebook’s #tenyearchallenge tell us about public awareness of data and algorithms?

What does Facebook’s #tenyearchallenge tell us about public awareness of data and algorithms?

Helen Kennedy reflects on the recent #tenyearchallenge trend. Looking at responses to the challenge, she considers what they tell us about the public understanding of data and the companies that utilise it. Drawing on qualitative and survey data on the levels of public awareness, she finds that what the public knows about data continues to be unclear.

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    Never on a Sunday! Is there a best day for submitting an article for publication?

Never on a Sunday! Is there a best day for submitting an article for publication?

With the advent of electronic publishing has come a wealth of ancillary data on issues related to the acceptance of articles for publication. Large data sets can now be quickly analysed to assess whether or not certain features, previously deemed unimportant, can actually affect the chances of a research paper being accepted for publication.  In this post, James Hartley […]

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    Research data should be available long-term…but who is going to pay?

Research data should be available long-term…but who is going to pay?

There is now a broad consensus that sharing and preserving data makes research more efficient, reproducible and potentially innovative. As such, most funding bodies now require research data to be stored, preserved, and made available long-term. But who is going to pay for this to happen? Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning outline how the costs of long-term data preservation […]

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    Book Review: Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age by Matthew J. Salganik

Book Review: Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age by Matthew J. Salganik

In Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, Matthew J. Salganik explores the process of undertaking social research in the digital era, examining a wide range of concepts while also offering teaching activities and materials. In bringing together the expertise of social and data scientists to the benefit of both, this is a comprehensive overview of new approaches to social […]

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    Data-driven discrimination: a new challenge for civil society

Data-driven discrimination: a new challenge for civil society

Data-driven technologies have been a transformative force in society. However, while such innovations are often viewed as a positive development, discriminatory biases embedded in these technologies can serve to compound problems for society’s more vulnerable groups. Having recently published a report on automated discrimination in data-driven systems, Jędrzej Niklas and Seeta Peña Gangadharan explain how algorithms discriminate, why this […]

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    Mind the skills gap: creating a data access and reuse competency framework for government departments and organisations

Mind the skills gap: creating a data access and reuse competency framework for government departments and organisations

Having access to the vital data collected by government departments can make a huge difference to the work of researchers in universities and charities. But for these researchers to actually access and be able to reuse this data is an often painstaking process that can take months or even longer. Richard Welpton suggests this process might be made quicker […]

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    Book Review: News, Numbers and Public Opinion in a Data-Driven World, edited by An Nguyen

Book Review: News, Numbers and Public Opinion in a Data-Driven World, edited by An Nguyen

In News, Numbers and Public Opinion in a Data-Driven World, An Nguyen brings together contributors to showcase international research on the integration of statistical reasoning in journalistic education, production and consumption. In a data-driven context marked by concerns about fake news, “post-truth” and the spread of disinformation, this is a thoughtful and accessible contribution to understanding the role of numeracy […]

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    We need more carrots: give academic researchers the support and incentives to share data

We need more carrots: give academic researchers the support and incentives to share data

Making data available for other researchers to find, use, reuse, and reproduce is fundamental to open science, and ultimately makes research more efficient and effective. Yet despite funder policies that encourage and require data sharing, researchers in both the UK and the US report lower percentages of data sharing than the global average. In addition to progressive policies, Grace […]

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    Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Student data systems and GovTech apps will increase competition and performance measurement in higher education

Current debates in higher education policy have drawn attention to the significant impacts of marketisation, metrics, and performance management on the sector. Ben Williamson argues that a restructuring of the data infrastructure is shaping these HE trends. An examination of the HE data infrastructure reveals the political aspirations coded into its architecture, the actors involved in its production, and […]

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    What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of “big data”

What a fossil revolution reveals about the history of “big data”

Improved technologies have allowed faster and more powerful statistical analysis and changed how we “see” data. It’s now taken for granted that the best way to understand large, complex phenomena is by crunching the numbers via computers and projecting the results as visual summaries. To David Sepkoski, that’s not a bad thing, but it does pose some challenges. The […]

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    How people feel about what companies do with their data is just as important as what they know about it

How people feel about what companies do with their data is just as important as what they know about it

The recent revelation that Cambridge Analytica was able to acquire the Facebook data of 50 million people has led to a surge of interest and questions around what companies do with people’s data. Amidst all of this, little attention has been paid to the feelings of those whose data are used, shared, and acted upon. According to Helen Kennedy, […]

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    Releasing 1.8 million open access publications from publisher systems for text and data mining

Releasing 1.8 million open access publications from publisher systems for text and data mining

Text and data mining offers an opportunity to improve the way we access and analyse the outputs of academic research. But the technical infrastructure of the current scholarly communication system is not yet ready to support TDM to its full potential, even for open access outputs. To address this problem, Petr Knoth, Nancy Pontika and Lucas Anastasiou have developed […]

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    What factors do scientists perceive as promoting or hindering scientific data reuse?

What factors do scientists perceive as promoting or hindering scientific data reuse?

Increased calls for data sharing have formed part of many governments’ agendas to boost innovation and scientific development. Data openness for reuse also resonates with the recognised need for more transparent, reproducible science. But what are scientists’ perceptions about data reuse? Renata Gonçalves Curty, Kevin Crowston, Alison Specht, Bruce W. Grant and Elizabeth D. Dalton make use of existing […]

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    Without urgent action big and open data may widen existing inequalities and social divides

Without urgent action big and open data may widen existing inequalities and social divides

The juncture of big and open data informs areas as diverse as artificial intelligence, agriculture, and public health, and promises to transform our ability to tackle global challenges. However, Sabina Leonelli highlights three major concerns over how big and open data are currently managed: the unsustainable nature of the digital data landscape; the quality and credibility of the data […]

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    An emerging iron cage? Understanding the risks of increased use of big data applications in social policy

An emerging iron cage? Understanding the risks of increased use of big data applications in social policy

Big data technologies are increasingly being utilised in the field of social policy. Although big data methods and strategies are often preferred as a form of evidence-based policy development, big data techniques do not necessarily guarantee scientific objectivity. Hamish Robertson and Joanne Travaglia discuss concerns about the rapid growth in big data methods being used to inform and shape […]

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