Dr Jo Bates

Senior Lecturer in Information Politics and Policy

BA (Keele), MA (Nottingham), MA (Manchester Metropolitan), PhD (Manchester Metropolitan)


Bates 2019


+44 (0)114 222 2648

My research is situated in the field of Critical Data Studies – an interdisciplinary field that uses critical social theory approaches to examine the social drivers, implications and power relations of emergent forms of data and algorithmic practices.

I work collaboratively with other scholars in the field of Critical Data Studies and cognate fields, as well as computer and information scientists who are engaged in the algorithmic processing of data.

I am a co-founder with Prof. Helen Kennedy and Dr Ysabel Gerrard of the Data Power conference, and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Big Data and Society.

My research has examined:

  • Socio-material dynamics that influence the production and use of data, and that enable and restrict the movement of data between different people and organisations. This work was largely conducted on the AHRC funded project ‘The Secret Life of a Weather Datum’, and includes the development of the ‘Data Journeys’ approach and work on the concept of ‘Data Friction’. See Bates et al (2016); Bates (2017); Bates and Goodale (2017) and Bates et al (forthcoming)
  • Affective dynamics in cultures of Data Science practice. See Bates and Elmore (2018)
  • Socio-cultural biases and transparency in image search results conducted in collaboration with Prof. Paul Clough and Dr Frank Hopfgartner in the Information Retrieval group and Prof. Jahna Otterbacher at the Open University of Cyprus. See Otterbacher et al (2017) and CYCAT project (Horizon 2020)
  • Socio-technical approaches for improving crowdworkers’ labour conditions in ongoing research with Dr Alessandro Checco in the Information Retrieval group. See Checco et al (2018)

I am interested in supervising PhD projects that advance the critical study of emerging data and algorithmic practices and flows. This includes, but is not limited to, issues around:

  • socio-cultural and/or political economic drivers of emergent practices of data production, processing, distribution and/or use in different contexts
  • bias and discrimination in data and algorithmic processing
  • cultures of data science practice
  • notions of data justice, fairness, accountability and transparency

I am a member of the Digital Societies Research Group and on the steering committee of the Faculty of Social Science Digital Society Network.


Current PhD Students

Ruth Beresford: Algorithmic bias: patterns, consequences and alternatives

Dan Grace: Creating the convivial library: exploring the effect of technology on the public libraries capacity to promote community resilience.

Sally Sanger: Alcohol online support groups: the role of discussion forums in constructing users' understanding of their condition/disease.

Jun Zhang: A study based on the analysis of deploying an integrated smart transportation system within the context of China.

Itelle Medina Perea: The socio-cultural life of personal health data flows in the UK healthcare sector.


CyCAT (Cyprus Centre for Algorithmic Transparency)

European Commission Co-Investigator €999,965 1st October 2018 36 months

The Cyprus Center for Algorithmic Transparency (CyCAT) is hosted at the Open University of Cyprus and is collaborating with four leading universities across Europe and Israel through an H2020 Twinning grant. The aims of the project are to promote digital literacy through raising citizens’ awareness of the ways in which data analytics and algorithmic processes affect their access to information and opportunities, and to develop computational methods, personalized tools, as well as innovative training and education programs that address these issues.

The Secret Life of a Weather Datum

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £79,460 1 January 2014 15 months

The Secret Life of a Weather Datum project developed and piloted the "data journeys" methodology which aims to illuminate the ways in which socio-cultural factors influence how data are produced, used and distributed across different sites of data practice. The project focused specifically on the journey of meteorological data from our local weather station - Sheffield Weston Park - through the Met Office, and on into re-use in climate science and financial markets. We also examined the intersecting journey of data produced by citizen scientists. Throughout these journeys we stopped off at various organisations, projects and communities in order to explore the data practices people were engaged in, the socio-cultural values that frame their data practices, and the public policies that influence data sharing and distribution. You can find out more at lifeofdata.org.uk.