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

DPhil students supervised at the OII

Current students

  • Elizabeth Dubois

    The new opinion leader? Personal influence and political networks in a hybrid media environment


  • 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.


  • Brief History of Political Wikipedia

    Social Election Prediction on 16 Apr 2015 13:28PM

    Wikipedia places among the top Google results for almost all topics – including political parties and politicians. This is why this Social Election Prediction Project exists; when voters seek information before an election they may turn to [...]

  • TICTEC 2015

    Jonathan Bright on 10 Apr 2015 16:31PM

    A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation at TICTEC, mySociety‘s inaugural research conference on the impact of civic technology. It was an inspiring event with so many presentations from different organisations trying to make a difference in [...]

  • Ethics of Wikipedia Research

    Social Election Prediction on 25 Feb 2015 17:01PM

    The election results on this Wikipedia page are wrong, I can tell. As we collect data for the Social Election Prediction Project, I am reviewing many a Wikipedia political party page and every so often I see mistakes. For this project I am checking that [...]

  • Information Seeking Behaviour and Election Predictions

    Jonathan Bright on 9 Feb 2015 14:57PM

    My colleague Taha Yasseri and I recently received a grant from the Fell Fund to extend our work on information seeking behaviour around election time, which has allowed us to bring Eve Ahearn on board on the project. Over the next few months we’re [...]

  • Subjectivity and Data Collection in a “Big Data” Project

    Social Election Prediction on 6 Feb 2015 13:56PM

    “There remains a mistaken belief that qualitative researchers are in the business of interpreting stories and quantitative researchers are in the business of producing facts.” (boyd & Crawford, 2012) The Social Election Prediction project is once [...]

  • Measuring Ministerial Career Dynamics

    Jonathan Bright on 19 Jan 2015 15:29PM

    I have a new article out in West European Politics with my colleagues Holger Döring and Conor Little which looks at the career dynamics of ministers in seven European countries over the last 50 or so years. We were interested in factors relating to their [...]

  • Measuring Online News Consumption

    Jonathan Bright on 10 Nov 2014 10:42AM

    Ofcom has just released a report on measuring online news consumption and supply, which I contributed to. It tackles the question of how to meaningfully measure the size of a news outlet’s audience in the digital age. This is a key issue for a [...]

  • Digital Politics in Western Democracies

    Jonathan Bright on 29 Oct 2014 18:09PM

    I recently had the chance to review Cristian Vaccari’s excellent new book Digital Politics in Western Democracies. Vaccari has assembled a great cross country comparative dataset on various indicators relating to politics and the internet, and [...]

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

    Jonathan Bright on 1 Oct 2014 09:13AM

    New article published with Taha Yasseri in IT – Information Technology. A short piece making the case for theoretically informed social media predictions, which is part of a larger project we are running with support from the Fell Fund over the next [...]

  • Policy and Internet

    Jonathan Bright on 22 Sep 2014 15:12PM

    I’ve recently been appointed as an editor of the OII’s journal Policy and Internet, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. There are major plans underway to develop and expand the journal so it’s an exciting project to be [...]

  • #indyref on Wikipedia

    Jonathan Bright on 18 Sep 2014 13:39PM

    My colleague Taha Yasseri and I are currently working on a Fell Fund project on social media data and election prediction, looking especially at data from Google and Wikipedia (first paper out soon; will also be presenting on that at IPP 2014 which should [...]

  • Ideology and Social Structure on Twitter

    Jonathan Bright on 4 Sep 2014 15:42PM

    Last week I was at the VOXPOL conference @ King’s College London. Vast majority of researchers were talking about terrorists and extremists, so I was a bit out of my field; though interestingly they were also all talking about big data and [...]

  • Point size legends in matplotlib and basemap plots

    Jonathan Bright on 12 Aug 2014 16:51PM

    Python’s matplotlib and basemap can do a lot. I think I still prefer R’s ggplot, but I much prefer manipulating data in Python and sometimes it’s more natural to do the analysis in the same language. Recently I have been combining the [...]

  • Opening up local council meetings

    Jonathan Bright on 11 Aug 2014 14:00PM

    Over the last week or so I gave a short comment on BBC South Today (as well as various radio stations) about a recent government move to allow anyone to record local council meetings and then post the results on the internet. A good idea I thought, though [...]

  • Python and Social Media Data for the Social Sciences

    Jonathan Bright on 1 Aug 2014 12:29PM

    In July I gave two short workshops at the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme and also at the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School. I had two great groups of bright PhD students and postdocs to teach to. The sessions were only two hours long, and [...]

  • 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 [...]