Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP) 2008

SDP2008 Oxford ('Web Science'): 13 July - 26 July. 12 tutors and 29 students. Accommodation: Lady Margaret Hall. SDP2008 Wiki.

Summer Doctoral Programme 2008 studentsThe 2008 Summer Doctoral Programme was held in Oxford at the Oxford Internet Institute (July 13th-26th, 2008), with an over-arching academic theme of 'Web Science'.

Held in conjunction with the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) and involving partners at the University of Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), it sought to explore the multi-disciplinary nature of the emerging field of Web Science, and in particular, aimed to facilitate collaboration between technologists and social scientists.

As in previous years, the SDP was held in collaboration with partners at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard Law School), the USC Annenberg School for Communication (University of Southern California) and the Center for Global Communication Studies in the Annenberg School for Communication (University of Pennsylvania).

Academic Programme

The 2008 programme was broadly similar to previous years' programmes with daily research seminars and panel sessions given by leading academics. Students had the opportunity to present their research to their peers in informal seminars: break-out sessions allowed groups to focus more narrowly on research questions of mutual interest. The Programme facilitated deep discussion of both substantive and methodological research issues, and helped students frame their research questions and direct their research. It also sought to generate dialogue and debate between students from different disciplinary backgrounds on themes relating to Web Science with a view to identifying topics for fruitful collaborative research and shaping curricula in this emerging field.

Research seminars covered: the history of the Web, the generativity of the Internet, Internet use and social networks, ontologies and the Semantic Web, information security, persistent software agents as personal interfaces to the Internet, interacting in virtual environments, distributed problem-solving networks, government on the Web, the historical origins of 'Open Science', online trust, the future of semantics on the Web, and strategies for digital inclusion. The afternoons were devoted to student research seminars, and optional methods and tools classes.

The social programme included two formal dinners, picnic and punting, and a barbecue at OII Director Bill Dutton's house.

Students Discuss the Web Science Exchange Programme



Marian Arning, Ching Man (Albert) Au Yeung, Bárbara Barbosa Neves, Jennifer Barrigar, Monica Bulger, Marcos Caceres, K. Matthew Dames, Tobias Escher, Lucas Graves, Harry Halpin, Bertil Hatt, Puneet Kishor, Ilaria Liccardi, Damien Lanfrey, Henry Siling Li, Mingfeng Lin, Christine Madsen, Jennifer Martin, Alice Marwick, Asma Ounnas, Christian Pentzold, Lucy Power, Ulla Rannikko, Wolf Richter, Oshani Seneviratne, Elisabeth Staksrud, Hua (Helen) Wang, Matthew Weber, Sonny Zulhuda

The Web Science Exchange Programme

The Web Science Research Initiative offered a number of EPSRC funded bursaries (to a maximum of £6000) to enable students to spend up to three months during Summer 2008 at one of the following participating institutions: University of Southampton (UK), University of Oxford (UK), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT (Boston, MA), Harvard University (Cambridge, MA). Thanks to this grant, the SDP2008 formed the starting point for several weeks of exchange activities and collaborative study in summer 2008 for ten PhD students from these participating institutions.

Students began the exchange programme by attending the SDP2008, spending the remaining time at one of the participating Institutions. Bursaries covered the costs of attending the SDP2008, and travel and subsistence during the exchange activities. The application criteria were that:

  • Students had to be registered with one of the four participating institutions
  • UK students could spend their period of study in either the UK or the US; US students had to spend their period of study in the UK
  • Students had to demonstrate that the proposed research was inter-disciplinary and that it would contribute to the Web Science research agenda
  • Students had to have the support of their graduate supervisor
  • The host institution nominated an appropriate supervisor during the exchange programme period of study
  • Students were required to write a report within 30 days of completion of the exchange programme


In addition to the partner institutions listed above, we continued our collaboration with colleagues at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School, the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the USC Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, and the Center for Global Communication Studies in the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.

  • The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania
  • The Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California
  • The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School
  • Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology