Tobias Escher has interests in citizen-government relationships online (eParticipation, eGovernment), in political representation as well as e-Social Science methods. He has a background in Communication Studies, Computer Science and Politics.

Tobias Escher is a DPhil student in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences as well as a part-time researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. Tobias has interests in citizen-government relationships online (eDemocracy, eGovernment) – in particular their evaluation, in political representation as well as e-Social Science research methods. He is currently dividing his time between Oxford and Berlin.

Before coming to Oxford he worked as a Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science at University College London. Tobias holds a Masters degree in Globalization and Communications from the University of Leicester. In addition he has an extensive background in Media and Communication Studies as well as Computer Science from Freie Universitaet Berlin.

Tobias’s academic work is focused primarily on the use of Information and Communication Technologies for politics, both from a government perspective (eGeovernment) as well as from a citizen perspective (eDemocracy, eParticipation). He also develops tools to collect and analyse data from the Web.

Tobias’s doctoral research is an empirical analysis of German and UK e-democracy websites, assessing whether they bring in people not otherwise involved in political debate, or whether they simply reinforce the influence of those already active in politics. By taking a comparative perspective involving Germany and the UK this work aims to assess the potential of online contacts between citizens and representatives for reducing biases in political participation patterns and in this way for contributing to more equal political representation. The case studies are in the UK and in Germany.

Beyond his doctoral research he has (co)produced a number of reports evaluating efforts in electronic participation. These include work for the German Parliament (evaluating its platform for online petitions; with Zebralog), the UK National Audit Office (evaluating the online presence of UK government; with Prof. Helen Margetts as well as the Public Policy Group of the LSE), the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit (research of the ‘Power of Information‘ report) and for mySociety, a not-for-profit whose evaluation efforts he is currently leading. He also teaches on the subject of the Internet and democracy.

Research interests

democratic participation, political representation, e-government, evaluation, social implications of the Internet, user experiments, webmetrics, social network analysis

Positions held at the OII

  • DPhil Alumnus, December 2012 –
  • DPhil student, October 2006 – December 2012

Supervisors at the OII

Current projects

  • OXLab: Oxford eXperimental Laboratory

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Dr Tobias Escher, Dr Nir Vulkan, Dr Scott A. Hale, Ingrid Boxall, Professor Peter John, Lucy Bartlett

    Oxford eXperimental Laboratory is undertaking laboratory-based experiments (eg information-seeking tasks) on networked computers in two disciplines: Economics (interactive decision making) and Political Science (evaluating government information online).

  • Government on the Web

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Dr Tobias Escher, Dr Scott A. Hale, Simon Bastow, Professor Patrick Dunleavy, Oliver Pearce, Jane Tinkler

    Research dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of e-government and the impact of web-based technologies on government.

Past projects

  • Information Exchange between Citizens and the Department of Work and Pensions

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Dr Tobias Escher, Professor Patrick Dunleavy, Jane Tinkler

    A value for money study for the National Audit Office (NAO) looking at information exchange between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its benefit customers.

  • Performance of distributed problem-solving networks

    Participants: Professor William H. Dutton, Professor Paul Allan David, Dr Tobias Escher, Dr Wolf Richter, Dr Matthijs den Besten, Dr Max Loubser, Dr Robert Ackland, David A. Bray, Irene Cassarino, Karen Croxson, Professor Jean-Michel Dalle, Dr Aldo Geuna, Dr Jukka-Pekka Onnela, Felix Reed-Tsochas, Philipp Tuertscher

    Addressing the uncertainties that surround the coordination and performance of 'Distributed Problem Solving Networks' (DPSN), as well as the areas in which these new Internet-based forms offer advantages over more familiar modes of problem-solving.