Dr Farida Vis

Research Fellow in the Social Sciences

BA (Staffordshire University), PhD (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Dr Farida Vis


+44 (0)114 222 2654

Twitter: @flygirltwo

My Fellowship (2012-2015) is on the theme of ‘Big Data and Social Change’ and is centrally concerned with researching social media, crisis communication, data journalism, citizen engagement and discourses around Big Data. I am a founding member of Open Data Manchester and my data driven journalism work (for example on the future of allotments in the UK) has been published on The Guardian Data Blog and elsewhere in the mainstream media. I am a co-author on the Data Journalism Handbook, an innovative effort to address training and knowledge issues within the rapidly emerging field of data journalism. In the aftermath of the 2011 UK summer riots, I led the social media analysis on an academic team that examined 2.6 million riot tweets, part of the Guardian’s groundbreaking Reading the Riots project. The data visualization, built by The Guardian’s interactive team, accompanying this work, highlighting the spread of rumours on Twitter has won a Data Journalism Award at the inaugural ceremony for this new journalism award.

I am currently leading two projects in the area of open data, citizen engagement and a renewed interest in growing your own food: Everyday Growing Cultures (part of the EPSRC’s Communities and Cultures Network+) and The Cultural Values of Digging (part of the AHRC’s Cultural Value project).

I am interested in supervising PhD students in any area of social media research, crisis communication, data journalism as well as open data and Big Data issues.


Current PhD Students

Alexandra Boutopoulou: Using visual social media data to better understand food cultures: the case of wellness bloggers.


Research Projects

Big Data and Food Safety Network

Economic and Social Research Council Principal Investigator £70,000 1 October 2015 36 months


Engage - Encouraging Network Generation's Accountability and Global Engagement

European Commission Principal Investigator £99,736 1 September 2015 12 months

The key aim of the ENGAGE project is to address young people's practices and participation in society via social media. Social media is a valuable knowledge area for current and future democratic processes and participation. Young people are important citizens who will be the future leaders, researchers, workers and thinkers in Europe. Consequently, exploring the perspectives they have on Europe and understanding better how they engage in shaping its future is crucial for the long-term success of the European project. ENGAGE focuses on unravelling, understanding and mitigating new forms of political and civic engagement within the digital visual cultures and social networked societies that young people from Norway and the United Kingdom are a part of.


Picturing the Social: Analysing Social Media Images conference

Economic and Social Research Council Principal Investigator £2,000 7 November 2014 0 months

Event organised as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science


Picturing the Social: transforming our understanding of images in social media and Big Data research

Economic and Social Research Council Principal Investigator £205,978 1 June 2014 18 months

Social media have transformed our understanding of the modern world, but the role of the visual in effecting these transformations has been neglected compared to other forms of data. Through innovative, cross- disciplinary work, this project will develop an understanding of how social media images take part in the social and indeed how they become the social.


Applying social media analytic skills in a real world setting

University of Sheffield Principal Investigator £2,000 1 April 2014 12 months


Digital Society Network

University of Sheffield Steering Group Member £24,000 1 February 2014 18 months

The Digital Society Network (DSN) draws together an interdisciplinary team of researchers engaged with research at the cutting-edge of society-technology interactions. Underpinning the network is a concern not only with how societies and individuals use digital technologies, but also the social implications and outcomes of an increasingly digitised world on numerous scales. In this way, digital society is understood as being the social aspect of the digital - a concern with who uses and does not use digital technology, for what purposes digital technologies are being used, how effective technologies and platforms are, and the implications and outcomes of these practices.


The Big Open Data Debate

Economic and Social Research Council Principal Investigator £1,500 7 November 2013 0 months

Event organised as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science


Researching Social Media conference

Economic and Social Research Council Principal Investigator £2,000 4 November 2013 0 months

Event organised as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science


The Cultural Values of Digging

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £28,114 1 September 2013 6 months

Activities around digging have become massively popular again in recent years, including in the attention they have received from cultural institutions. Many cultural institutions have in recent years recreated wartime (allotment) gardens to highlight a range of different issues and values. Such exhibitions and events, organized during a time of renewed austerity measures, increased concerns around food and the environment, draw obvious parallels to the contemporary moment, offering possibilities to rethink our own values. This project seeks to better understand the myriad of different ways in which issues around digging have reemerged in recent years, to analyse, understand and measure these by looking at how they have been expressed and mobilized by different people and actors. This can be expressed as actual digging and linked to food production, as more symbolic digging, as performance and event, digging up local histories, or as new forms of gift giving.


University Research Fund - Divisional Directors Award

University of Sheffield Principal Investigator £2,500 23 July 2013 0 months

Funding awarded to host the end of project event for the EPSRC funded 'Everyday Growing Cultures' project


Everyday Growing Cultures

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Investigator £23,988 1 February 2013 6 months

Everyday Growing Cultures was a six-month pilot study that, between mid-February and mid-August 2013, focused on the potentially transformative value of connecting two currently disparate communities: allotment growers and the open data community. Based on comparative research in Manchester and Sheffield, the project explores the potential effects of digital engagement and open data for allotment holders and those on waiting lists to build stronger, more active communities, benefit local economies and improve environmental sustainability and food security.