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Social Science and Digital Research: Interdisciplinary Insights

With Professor William H. Dutton, Professor Ralph Schroeder, Dr Marina Jirotka, Professor Mike Thelwall, Professor Eric T. Meyer, Dr Grace Eden, Malte Ziewitz, Professor Peter van den Besselaar, and Dr Annamaria Carusi
Date & Time:
09:30 - 17:00,
Monday 12 March, 2012


We invite the submission of abstracts for an academic symposium to be held at the University of Oxford on 12 March 2012, entitled ‘Social Science and Digital Research: Interdisciplinary Insights’. The research councils, including the ESRC’s Digital Social Research Programme, have sought to bring the social sciences to bear on the study of how academic disciplines in the sciences, social sciences and humanities are leveraging digital tools and data to advance research. Over the last decade, efforts to embed computing within research across academic disciplines have operated under various banners: e-science, cyberinfrastructure, e-research, digital humanities, digital social research, e-social science, and others. The aim of these efforts has been the enhancement of their research methods using the expanding capacities of networked computing. Across a number of studies, social research indicates that technical innovations are enabling scholars to reconfigure how they do their work across all phases of the research process, from discovery to dissemination. How have these innovations diffused and with what implications for the foci, quality and significance of research?

This symposium will provide an opportunity to critically assess the outcomes of such interdisciplinary initiatives through presentations that illustrate the potential for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary digital research to break new ground in our understanding of theory and research across disciplinary boundaries. Researchers from the Oxford e-Social Science Project (OeSS) and its various spin-offs will be discussing the lessons learned over the last six years of work in this area. Those researching this area, as well as those involved in completed or ongoing e-Research projects, are encouraged to participate in the symposium.

We are open to abstracts on any topic within the broad area of digital social research, broadly defined, but also would encourage submissions that address:

  • Critical perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of past and current efforts to embed digital methods across the disciplines.
  • What are the social science insights into digital research?
  • What are the new theoretical, conceptual or empirical insights gained through digital social research?
  • How has research has been advanced by computer science, and how have the computer sciences been informed or shaped by the theories, concepts, methods, or questions from research domains?
  • What has been the value of the interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary work demanded by e-research?
  • What is next for digital research, and what steps will be required to get there?

Abstracts should be submitted by 15 December 2011. They will be selected through peer review for presentations to be announced by 23 December 2011.

Please submit your prospective title and abstract to with ‘Interdisciplinary Insights’ in the subject field. Selected abstracts will be posted online, and the symposium will consider the potential for progressing some forward for publication.


Time Session
09:00 Coffee and Registration
09:30 Welcome and Introduction
09:35-10:30 Data and Replication

Keynote: Reproducibility: Gold or Fool’s Gold in Digital Social Research? (Christine Borgman)

Paper: Humans and Machines Working Together (Stuart Shulman, tbc)

Paper: Theoretical Implications of Digital Trace Data Insight From the Development of a Mobile Smartphone Application (Jeff Boase and Tetsuro Kobayashi)

10:30-10:45 Coffee Break
10:45-11:45 Managing Collaboration

Keynote: Visioning Studies: A Socio-technical Approach to Designing the Future (Diane Sonnenwald)

Paper: Going Backstage: Exploring the Invisible Work Involved in Connecting and Collaborating in Digital Research (Theresa Anderson, tbc)

Paper: Algorithmic Alchemy, Or the Work of Code in Coordinating Creativity and Collaborators (Tim Webmoor)

11:45-12:45 Interdisciplinary Issues of Collaboration

Keynote: Digital Social Research: An Interdisciplinary Niche or the Future of the Social Sciences? (Peter van den Besselaar)

Paper: Epistemic Encounters: Insights on Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Developing Virtual Research Environments (Smiljana Antonijevic)

Paper: ‘Wish you were here before!’ Who Gains from Collaboration between Computer Science and Social Research? (Daphne Duin, David King and Peter van den Besselaar)

12:45-13:30 Lunch
13:30-14:40 Methods

Keynote: Webometrics: The Evolution of a Digital Social Science Research Field? (Mike Thelwall)

Paper: From One Map to the Other: the Risky, yet Heuristic, Parallel between Web Graph and Digital Cartography (Jean-Christophe Plantin)

Paper: e-Methods and Quantitative-Qualitative Crossings (Annamaria Carusi)

Paper: The Performative Character of Digital Methods (Astrid Mager)

14:40-14:50 Coffee Break
14:50-16:00 New Issues in Scholarly Communication

Keynote: New Forms of Scholarly Communications: Opportunities and Challenges (Rob Procter)

Paper: Discussing Research with the Public in the Blogosphere (Judit Bar-Ilan, Hadas Shema and Mike Thelwall)

Paper: Knowledge or Credit? The (Un)Changing Face of Academic Publishing from the Philosophical Transactions to Blogging (Cornelius Puschmann)

Paper: Re-examining Scholarly Communication through the Lens of Digital Datasets (Cassidy Sugimoto, Ying Ding, Vincent Lariviere, Stasa Milojevic and Mike Thelwall)

16:00-17:30 Synthesis Panel on OeSS, the Symposium, and Future Directions

Paper: The Social Shaping of Digital Research? Diverse Perspectives (William Dutton)

Paper: Digital Transformations of Knowledge: Retrospective and Outlook (Ralph Schroeder and Eric Meyer)

Paper: The Challenges of Responsible Research and Innovation in Contemporary ICT Research (Marina Jirotka, Grace Eden and Bernd Carsten Stahl)

Discussion: All Keynotes, moderated by William Dutton


This event is organised by the Oxford e-Social Science Project, a collaboration of faculty of the Oxford e-Research Centre, the Oxford Internet Institute, and the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, supported by the ESRC (RES-149-25-1082).



Dr Grace Eden

Research Associate, Oxford e-Research Centre


Malte Ziewitz

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford


Professor Peter van den Besselaar

Endowed Professor of Organization and Dynamics of Science, Free University of Amsterdam