The Oxford e-Social Science project aims to understand how e-Research projects negotiate various social, ethical, legal and organizational forces and constraints, in order to help researchers avoid these problems when building scientific collaborations.


Advances in information and communication technology are transforming the way scholarly research is conducted across all disciplines. The use of increasingly powerful and versatile computer-based and networked systems promises to change research activity as profoundly as the mobile phone, the Internet, and email have changed everyday life. The Oxford e-Social Science (OeSS) research project studies the use and impacts of these new approaches—called ‘e-research’ — and their ethical, legal, and institutional implications.

Scientific collaboration is increasingly coming to be seen as critically dependent upon effective access to shared digital research data and the advanced information tools that enable data storage, search, retrieval, visualization, and higher level analysis. The increasing role that advanced ICTs play in the practice of scientific research promises the potential to transform the way facts about the physical and social world are acquired, shared, analyzed, and translated into useful knowledge.

Building large, collaborative systems is not just a technical challenge: by looking at e-Research from a social shaping perspective, we are able to understand how researchers shape the technologies they use, and how they in turn have their behaviour shaped by the technologies and by social, ethical, legal and organizational forces.

By understanding how e-Research projects negotiate various constraints, we hope that our work can help researchers avoid the problems others have faced as they build these scientific collaborations.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)Oxford e-Research Centre (OeRC)Oxford University Computing Laboratory (OUCL)






  • MySpace and your research: will red tape hit web data use?

    Date Published: 10 July 2008

    Source: Times Higher Education

    'Bill Dutton [...] said the new world of e-research offered all sorts of novel and inexpensive ways of exploring social behaviour, but it also created a whole set of new ethical issues where the "correct norms were still yet to be decided"'