An increasingly large share of human activity now takes place in online digital environments. However social researchers are predominantly trained to investigate and interpret a pre-digital world. In this post Mark Carrigan and Phil Brooker argue that social researchers need to increasingly engage with code and coding in order to understand contemporary society. As one step in this direction […]
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent one of the largest and most sustained influences on global research to date. However, charting the effect of these 17 goals on the global research community is a complex task. In this post, Martin Szomszor draws on the findings of a recent bibliometric study to produce a ‘citation map’ of sustainability research, […]
In this post Shalini Kurapati introduces the concept of data stewarding. Drawing on her own experience, she describes how data stewarding has developed an important role in delivering open science and research in higher education and research institutions and discusses how data stewarding also presents an important opportunity for post-doctoral researchers to develop careers within and beyond academia.
Like most […]
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 […]
The main obstacles to better research data management and sharing are cultural. But change is in our hands
Recommendations on how to better support researchers in good data management and sharing practices are typically focused on developing new tools or improving infrastructure. Yet research shows the most common obstacles are actually cultural, not technological. Marta Teperek and Alastair Dunning outline how appointing data stewards and data champions can be key to improving research data management through positive cultural change.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
When designing data collection, researchers must take important decisions on how much data to collect and what resources to devote to enhancing the quality of the collected data. But the threshold for choosing better over bigger data may be reached long before the sample numbers in the thousands, write Jeff Dominitz and Charles F. Manski.
Big data has become an […]
In Once Upon an Algorithm: How Stories Explain Computing, Martin Erwig aims to spread an interest in computer science by drawing parallels between processes of computation and the problem-solving stories found in popular culture, including the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel and the film Groundhog Day. While some of the content does demand close attention, the concrete examples make this generally an accessible […]