Mobile menu toggle
Oxford University Oxford Internet Institute

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

Policy Impact

The speed and scale of the Internet’s growth is such that public policy has found it had to keep up, and our increasingly data-driven world presents huge opportunities and challenges for industry, government, and policy makers. This places a unique responsibility on academics undertaking research in this field to ensure that research findings are disseminated widely with a view to informing policy and practice. In all our activities we are committed to being an independent and non-partisan source of the highest quality analysis and insight.

Below are some examples of the research and teaching activities with a clear public policy focus. Please contact our faculty about specific areas or opportunities for collaboration, or contact our Policy and Research Fellow, Dr Victoria Nash (victoria.nash@oii.ox.ac.uk).

  • The Policy and Internet Blog

    This blog investigates the relationship between the Internet and public policy. It covers work by the OII, and work published in its journal Policy & Internet.

    http://blogs.oii.ox.ac.uk/policy/

  • Digital Ethics Lab

    The Oxford Internet Institute's Digital Ethics Lab aims to tackle the ethical challenges posed by digital innovation.

    https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/digital-ethics-lab/

  • The OII Internet Leadership Academy

    Our part-time leadership course provides an objective overview of all sides of the major policy debates shaping Europe’s digital future.

    http://academy.oii.ox.ac.uk

  • Policy & Internet Journal: Submit your paper!

    Policy & Internet calls for papers that present genuinely new approaches to policy questions or problems relating to the Internet. Ed-in-Chief: Helen Margetts

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1944-2866/

Research to Inform Public Policy

The shift online of social, political and economic life and the increasingly important relationship between the Internet and government’s policy toolkit has major implications for public policy research. The Internet itself is a rich source of empirical data about social and political behaviour, for example offering the possibility of obtaining ‘real’ transactional data about behaviour.

Our work stimulates and informs debate on Internet-related issues, and is used by policy-makers around the world to shape policy and practice around the reinvention and use of the Internet. As the public policy environment enters a period of dramatic change and uncertainty we are able to provide the empirical data and conceptual analysis that is so needed to design policy responses to societal problems.

The below are examples of current research projects with a clear policy focus.

  • Alan Turing Institute

    We are a contributing department to the Alan Turing Institute (ATI), which will place the UK at the forefront of world-wide research in data science.

    https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/alan-turing-institute/

  • Political Bots

    We are investigating the impact of automated scripts (computational propaganda) on public life.

    http://politicalbots.org

  • Smart Cities Research

    We are enabling city officials to experiment with data-driven solutions and indicators about their city.

    http://smartcities.oii.ox.ac.uk

  • VOX-Pol Network of Excellence on Violent Online Political Extremism

    We are researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of Violent Online Political Extremism and responses to it.

    http://www.voxpol.eu

Selected Publications and Reports

Policymaking is an inherently multi-disciplinary activity, and the Internet both facilitates and requires methodological innovation in public policy research. However it is vital that such research is disseminated in formats appropriate for different audiences. In addition to publishing policy-relevant research in academic journals, OII faculty also contribute directly to policy debates through reports and articles for government bodies, NGOs and the media. Our Policy and Internet blog offers immediate access to our academic research in an accessible manner.

We are a fully multidisciplinary department, with research activities focusing on a whole range of policy areas, including around government, child safety, privacy and security, digital divides and inequality, education, health, cyberconflict, and labour markets. The following are just some of our recent key reports. To find additional work in specific areas please use the search function, or contact our Policy and Research Fellow, Dr Victoria Nash (victoria.nash@oii.ox.ac.uk).

Teaching and Leadership

All our students are introduced to key policy debates in Internet regulation as a core part of our teaching programmes. The multi-disciplinary masters course on Internet Technologies and Regulation exposes students to basic communications and computer science materials on the core technological principles of the Internet, as well as more traditional social science materials such as public policy documents, reports and academic texts. In order to reinforce students’ appreciation of the importance of adopting a technologically-informed approach to studying the Internet, the course covers several key policy debates such as content regulation, privacy and security and Internet governance, in each case identifying the extent to which the range of policy options is narrowed or expanded by fast-moving technological innovation, and shifts in public policy and regulation. This enables students to appreciate the broader implications and relevance of academic study in this field.

Digital technology is transforming society — and with it the landscape for policy makers. Yet the broad scope, complexity and rapid pace of change can deter conversation beyond expert circles. To encourage wider involvement, we have developed the Internet Leadership Academy, a part-time course providing an objective overview of all sides of the major policy debates shaping our digital future. Supported by Google, this programme offers a combination of virtual lectures and real-time online discussions to around twenty up-and-coming policy and thought leaders from across Europe.

We also offer to teaching on Internet-related policy issues to MPP students at the Blavatnik School of Government, most recently on the challenges of governing in the digital age, and the potential contributions of big data for policy.

Working with us

We often partner with industry, NGOs and government departments to work in areas of mutual interest. Often organised around workshops, reports, research, working with or collecting datasets, our aim is to find issues where our research can be used in collaboration with others to advance the public good. We are always happy to be approached with suggestions for involvement, but note that projects need to be in areas of research interest and capacity and we prefer projects where all partners can bring expertise. To find out about specific areas or opportunities for collaboration, please contact our Policy and Research Fellow, Dr Victoria Nash (victoria.nash@oii.ox.ac.uk).

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