Dr Jonathan Bright

 Dr Jonathan Bright

Jonathan Bright is a political scientist specialising in computational and ‘big data’ approaches to the social sciences.

Email: jonathan.bright@oii.ox.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)1865 287233


Jonathan Bright is a political scientist specialising in computational and 'big data' approaches to the social sciences. He holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Bristol, an MSc in International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and a PhD in Political Science from the European University Institute.

His major interest concerns studying how people get information about the political process, and how this is changing in the internet era. He is currently working on the role of social media in the diffusion of political news and informaiton; the extent to which information seeking behaviour on Google and Wikipedia can be used to predict electoral outcomes; and the possibility of creating large scale transnational publics at the European level.

Research interests

social media, news, political behaviour, computational social science, big data

Positions held at the OII

  • Research Fellow, June 2013 -


Current projects

Past projects



Conference papers

  • Bright, J. (2012) The Dynamics of Parliamentary Discourse in the UK: 1936-2011. Paper presented at Internet, Politics and Policy: Big Data, Big Challenges?, 20-21 September 2012, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.
  • Bright, J. (2012) Measuring Legislative Oversight. Paper presented at the Open Legislative Data Conference, 6-7 July 2012, Sciences-Po Paris.
  • Bright, J. (2012) Counter-terrorism legislation and the question of oversight: in search of the crisis effect. Paper presented at the European Internal Security conference, 23-25 April 2012, at the European University Institute.
  • Bright, J., and Agustina, J.R. (2011) Mediating Social Control: Natural Surveillance and Control Online. Paper presented at the Living in Surveillance Societies Working Group 4 Seminar, Barcelona, 2011.
  • Bright, J. and Little, C. (2011) Success in two dimensions. Introducing and exploring a new measure of individuals' office-seeking success. Paper presented at the 1st Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association, 16-18 June 2011, Dublin, Ireland.
  • Bright, J. (2011) Reconsidering the Economics of Surveillant Assemblage. Paper presented at the Ghosts of Surveillance, the second Living in Surveillance Societies conference, 2011.
  • Bright, J., Doering, H., Little, C. (2011) Ministerial Importance and Ministerial Careers in Six Parliamentary Democracies. Paper presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions, San Gallen 2011.
  • Bright, J., (2010) Security, Technology and Control: Recasting Securitization Theory for the Information Society. Paper presented at 'Politics in Hard Times', the SGIR 7th Pan-European Conference on IR, 2010.
  • Bright, J., (2010) Biometrics in the Light of Actor-Network Theory. Paper presented at 'A Global Surveillance Society?', the fourth Biannual Surveillance and Society/SSN conference, 2010.

Working papers


Courses taught at the OII

  • Digital Era Government and Politics

    Providing an in-depth understanding of the changing nature of digital-era governance and politics and the theoretical, practical and ethical questions surrounding the role of the Internet and related technologies in political life.

  • Digital Social Research

    This course will familiarize students with a variety of methods for capturing online data in a host of formats (.json, .xml, .graphml, .csv) and techniques for answering research questions based on data from the web.

  • Social Research Methods and the Internet I: Methods Core

    This course provides students with the opportunity to engage with the methodological, ethical and philosophical underpinnings of quantitative and qualitative social science research practices.

  • Social Research Methods and the Internet I: Statistics Core

    This course introduces students to statistics for the social sciences, with an emphasis on application to research on the Internet and society.

  • Social Research Methods and the Internet II: Methods Core

    This course provides students with the opportunity to engage with the methodological, ethical and philosophical underpinnings of quantitative and qualitative social science research practices.


  • Does Social Media Use Change the Type of News We Receive?

    Does Social Media Use Change the Type of News We Receive?

    Recorded on: 8 November 2013 Duration: 00:20:46

    Jonathan Bright explores the impact of social media on news consumption. He examines how social media users choose what to share, how this varies by platform, and what the implications may be for the type of news coverage that people receive.


  • QR codes used on ballot paper for the first time

    15 May 2014 BBC Oxford

    For the first time in the UK a QR code has been incorporated in a political party’s official emblem on the ballot paper. Jonathan Bright says that if this becomes more commonplace the Electoral Commission would have questions.


  • A “big data” approach to studying parliamentary scrutiny

    Jonathan Bright on 30 Jun 2014 10:24AM

    I have a new article out in the British Journal of Politics and International Relations: In Search of the Politics of Security. In it, I take what could be called a big data approach to the study of parliamentary scrutiny, by scraping information on the [...]

  • Why do MOOC users meet face to face?

    Jonathan Bright on 29 May 2014 16:35PM

    Last week Monica Bulger, Cristobal Cobo and I presented a paper at the ICA’s pre-conference on higher education innovation. Monica and Cris are the experts in this area and did most of the heavy lifting, but I was pleased to take part, mainly out of [...]

  • Computational Social Science: Social Contagion, Collective Behaviour, and Networks

    Jonathan Bright on 23 May 2014 11:05AM

    I am part of the organising committee of this event -> part of my growing interest in all things related to sociophysics. Call for abstracts follows: Computational Social Science: Social Contagion, Collective Behaviour, and Networks to be held in [...]

  • QR codes on ballot papers

    Jonathan Bright on 16 May 2014 14:29PM

    I was asked to provide a brief comment on this BBC Oxford article about the insertion of QR codes onto ballot papers by a political party in the south east. A really smart idea (and the party is pretty interesting as well), though also one which [...]

  • Creating transnational political links with euandi & Facebook

    Social Election Prediction on 30 Apr 2014 13:57PM

    Jonathan Bright Just wanted to put up a quick plug for the euandi voting advice application [VAA] which has recently been launched by the European University Institute. I was one of the 100 or so political scientists across Europe who got together to [...]

  • euandi

    Jonathan Bright on 28 Apr 2014 14:23PM

    Over the last couple of months I’ve been involved with the “euandi” project run by Alex Trechsel at the European University Institute. euandi is a voting advice application designed to offer information to users about the extent to which [...]

  • Media effect or media replacement?

    Social Election Prediction on 22 Apr 2014 12:21PM

    Taha Yasseri, Jonathan Bright Online political information seeking, at least in the data we’ve gathered so far, happens in short, concentrated bursts. When we began the project, I (JB) was hoping that these bursts would tell us something about how [...]

  • Outliers on the electoral information cycle

    Social Election Prediction on 11 Apr 2014 10:56AM

    Taha Yasseri, Jonathan Bright In the last post we looked at patterns of access to the Wikipedia article on the European Parliament election, 2009 identified an electoral information cycle which consists of a build up period, a peak of information seeking, [...]

  • Can social data be used to predict elections?

    Jonathan Bright on 8 Apr 2014 14:56PM

    I’ve just started a new research blog with my colleague Taha Yasseri. Two aims: we want to know if and when social data might be useful in election prediction; we want to see if this knowledge teaches us anything about the political process. [...]

  • The electoral information cycle

    Social Election Prediction on 8 Apr 2014 13:45PM

    Taha Yasseri, Jonathan Bright When do people start getting interested in elections, and how does this differ in different countries? In this post we try to get a handle on this question looking at data drawn from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a useful resource [...]

  • Social Media and News Distribution

    Jonathan Bright on 12 Mar 2014 10:01AM

    I spend about half of my research time at the moment looking at the way in which social media affects the distribution of news. I recently had a chance to give a talk to the OII’s board on the subject, which can be found here.

  • Teaching Inferential Statistics with Netlogo

    Jonathan Bright on 12 Feb 2014 14:41PM

    Last term I decided to try using a Netlogo simulation in stats class to help explain some basic principles of inferential statistics. The advantage of having a simulation package is that students can see for themselves that things like that standard error [...]

  • Trans-nationalising Europe’s Voting Space

    Jonathan Bright on 3 Feb 2014 19:08PM

    Would European democracy be better off if we could vote for any party in any country when the European Parliament elections take place? Just published a working paper with colleagues Joseph Lacey, Diego Garzia and Alex Trechsel which argues that, well, [...]

  • Can electoral popularity be predicted using socially generated big data?

    Jonathan Bright on 18 Dec 2013 10:52AM

    New short paper with my colleague Taha Yasseri. Basic argument: we won’t get political predictions out of the social web without understanding more about how political processes generate online information dynamics. Have a look here.

  • What future ACA for political science?

    Jonathan Bright on 12 Nov 2013 10:32AM

    About a year ago I was really convinced that automatic content analysis was part of the future for political science. There is a lot of political text out there and hand coding it all is difficult and time consuming. ACA seemed to offer a lot of potential [...]

  • Transnationalising Europe’s Voting Space

    Jonathan Bright on 19 Jun 2013 12:40PM

    I am part of a team of researchers presenting a paper at EPSA this week on the theme of ‘Transnationalising Europe’s Voting Space’. In it we look at the extent to which people would vote for a party from another country in the European [...]

  • Convex Hulls with ggplot

    Jonathan Bright on 10 Jun 2013 12:41PM

    I found this code buried in an old google group discussion which I thought I would repost. As with everything ggplot wise hat tip to the incredible Hadley Wickham. Often it’s nice to break down scatter plots by a third variable, especially if [...]

  • New Post at the Oxford Internet Institute

    Jonathan Bright on 6 Jun 2013 12:36PM

    I started a new position as a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute this month, which is a department of the University of Oxford. I will be working largely on ‘big data’ approaches to political science, looking especially at [...]

  • Research Skills for the World of Big Data

    Jonathan Bright on 15 May 2013 11:14AM

    Last week I finished teaching a five day workshop entitled ‘Research Skills for the World of Big Data’ at the EUI, which was kind of a follow up to a course I taught there in 2012. We had about 15 students along interested in learning how [...]

  • Paper presented at MPSA

    Jonathan Bright on 10 Apr 2013 11:07AM

    Jorge Fernandes, Conor Little and I presented a paper at the MPSA conference in Chicago last week. Jorge did the heavy lifting of actually going to the thing. In the paper we looked at the role ‘trust’ between parties plays in cabinet [...]