Research Themes

We explore critically developments in digital data, information and knowledge, how they are constituted within wider socio-cultural and political economic contexts and the implications for social justice.

As a group we engage with the production and role of data and information in contemporary issues such as social activism, citizen creativity, scholarly innovation, learning and algorithmic processes. We offer critical reflection on the possibilities and politics of studying society through “big data”, including data from social media, health information systems or self tracking. We participate in the growing field of Research on Research

We develop theoretically informed and methodologically innovative research on data, information and knowledge in digital societies. We draw on diverse theoretical influences including practice theory, innovation diffusion theory, social informatics, critical political economy and assemblage theory.

We are involved in projects using a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies including data mining, co-production, (digital) ethnography and visual research methods.

We are an outward looking group, keen to develop further our high impact collaborations with organisations and practitioners outside academia, as well as to forge creative interdisciplinary connections with other researchers.

Within Sheffield we are part of the Faculty of Social Sciences Digital Society Network.

We are also members as a group of the Association of Internet Researchers.

Key research interests

  • The political economic, social and cultural aspects of ‘big’ and open data, with a current focus on social media, health and research data
  • Socio-material dynamics of data journeys and data friction
  • Crowd labour issues in data annotation
  • Cultures of data science practice, particularly their affective aspects
  • Bias and transparency in algorithmic systems
  • Citizen engagement in smart cities
  • Social activism and citizen creativity in networked publics, historical weather data rescue and web-archiving
  • The changing nature and role of scholarship in contemporary society, particularly discourses, practices and policies around scholarly communication and openness, in the context of research on research
  • The use of social media to crowdsource information during human-made and natural disasters
  • The impact of social media on well-being
  • The use of digital media for the purposes of sousveillance (inverse surveillance) during civil unrest
  • Self tracking citizen cultures and issues around privacy, preservation etc