A multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the Internet.

Digital Knowledge and Culture

New technologies have enabled innovations in the ways in which we create knowledge, access information, and engage with our heritage. These changes also affect the public, which is not just leaving digital traces, but increasingly playing a part in contributing to knowledge production. The OII is charting the ongoing digital transformations of the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and their implications.

This research cluster brings together researchers whose work is aimed at understanding the impacts of digital technologies on scholarly and public engagement with knowledge, arts, culture and heritage. Our work has involved physicists, marine biologists, historians, theatre companies, film makers, scholarly archives, major libraries, museums, universities, crowdsourcing projects and the BBC in research projects at the forefront of understanding this shifting landscape.

People: Kathryn Eccles, Isis Hjorth, Bernie Hogan, Eric Meyer, Ralph Schroeder, Matt Willis


Digital tools and techniques now underpin most of our scholarly activities. Physicists and philosophers, biologists and biographers, doctors and demographers all increasingly rely on digital tools and data to do their work, to open up new lines in enquiry, and to advance their knowledge of the world. The Internet also opens up this knowledge much more widely to the general public, who are increasingly not just research subjects and creators of the traces left in big data, but also can actively play a part in interpreting and creating new knowledge.

Our cultural landscape has been similarly transformed by increased access to and enhanced understanding of the digital environment. Visits to museums and cultural spaces can begin long before we step through the door, and we can access deep, rich contextual resources to enhance our engagement with the arts and heritage environments.

Our work extends across Oxford and beyond, including close ties to: Digital Humanities at OxfordThe Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH)OeRCHeLEXWolfson Digital ClusterDigital Humanities Summer School.

  • Big Data to Advance Social Science Knowledge

    Following 'big data' from its public and private origins through open and closed pathways into the social sciences.

  • Big Data in Dementia Research

    An OECD-commissioned project that evaluates current best practices of data sharing in research on neurodegenerative diseases.

  • TIDSR Impact Toolkit

    The TIDSR best practices toolkit includes a number of elements to aid researchers and funding bodies to assess the impact of their digitisation projects.

Selected Publications

The below are a few publications in this area: for complete lists of outputs, please refer to individual faculty biographies.


The MSc optional paper in Digital Ethnography is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills to carry out qualitative data analysis of a variety of kinds of data (e.g. text, photos, videos) collected from both online and offline settings. Past student projects in the ethnography course have included studies of communities that share YouTube videos on a particular topic, fandom and specific fan communities, communities that deviate from standard norms, online support groups, and a range of other groups online that merit deep investigation to better understand online norms, cultures, and identities.

The MSc optional methods paper in Metrics, Measurement, and Online Visibility is designed to give students experience analysing data both from traditional sources (Web of Knowledge, Scopus, etc.) and from alternative sources (Google, social media, Wikipedia, etc.). Students on the metrics course have used these techniques to understand the growth of an area of academic interest such as ‘internet studies’, to measure the uses and impacts of a particular website or set of websites, and to track the influence of individuals online.

The MSc optional methods paper in Digital Interviewing is designed to encourage students to develop a critical stance to their own research practice and the work of others. Alongside conceptual and theoretical discussions in class, students will be obtaining hand­s-on practice gathering qualitative data, particularly using digitally-mediated methods.

  • Digital Ethnography

    This course explores the new opportunities and challenges the Internet has presented for those in carrying out digital ethnography.

  • Metrics, Measurement, and Online Visibility

    Providing students with the knowledge and skills to carry out qualitative data analysis of a variety of kinds of data collected from online and offline settings.

  • Digital Interviewing

    Alongside conceptual and theoretical discussions, students will obtain hand­s-on practice gathering qualitative data, particularly using digitally-mediated methods.

  • Big Data in Society

    This course critically examines the unprecedented opportunities and serious challenges inherent in big data approaches to advancing knowledge.

Our research is organised in eight broad themes, where the Internet is having a significant effect on social, economic and political activity worldwide.

  • Digital Economies
  • Digital Knowledge and Culture
  • Digital Politics and Government
  • Education, Digital Life and Wellbeing
  • Ethics and Philosophy of Information
  • Information Geography and Inequality
  • Information Governance and Security
  • Social Data Science