The Ethics of Facebook Research in High-Risk Places

Paul Reilly and I recently presented a paper on the ethical challenges involved in researching social media protest in high-risk places at the “Protest Communication Ecologies” conference organised by the journal Information, Communication and Society together with City University and the University of Sassari (Italy). If you missed our session and would like to read more about our proposed typology of high-risk places and examples of ethical strategies drawn from research on Northern Ireland, you can find a copy of our presentation here.

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Presenting at Protest Communication Ecologies Conference – June 2015

My colleague Paul Reilly (Media and Communication, University of Leicester) and I will present a joint paper at the ‘Protest Participation in Variable Communication Ecologies‘ conference, which is organised by the journal Information, Communication & Society together with the University of Sassari and will take place in Alghero, Italy between 24-26 June 2015. This event will focus on advances in contemporary protest and more broad activist repertoires at a time in which ‘established’ and ’emerging’ forms of mass media increasingly interact, providing a range of actors with enhanced opportunities to influence public decision-making, but also challenging their traditional tactics.

Our contribution will examine the ethical challenges involved in carrying out research between ‘streets’ and ‘screens’ in unstable and potentially risky political contexts, using examples drawn from Paul’s research on the use of Facebook during the 2013 Union Flag protests in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

VoterEcology Key Findings Report Out Now

I recently presented on behalf of the VoterEcology project team at a knowledge-transfer event organised as part of the Google Data Analytics Social Science Research programme. Here we talked with Google and ESRC representatives about the challenges and opportunities involved in using Google Trends for social science research, as well as ideas for further work in this area. Given the relevance of internet search trends for political communication scholarship and practice, we thought it would be useful to share the report we prepared for this event on the project’s website. This aims to be as jargon-free (in and of itself an accomplishment for a bunch of academic people!) and user-friendly as possible, and includes examples from all the four country case studies explored in the research (the U.S., the UK, Italy and Egypt).

To download a copy, click here.

Paper Accepted for ISA 2015 Convention

Just got news that the paper I proposed for next year’s International Studies Association’s (ISA) Annual Convention together with Paul Reilly (University of Leicester) was accepted. The title is “Populist and Popular: Using Google Trends to Track and Conceptualize Emerging Transnational Trends in Democratic Politics.” This study continues my working paper series on blending search engine data drawn from Google Trends with established political communication methods to explore emergent global phenomena in democratic politics such as the rise of populist parties and movements. Bring on New Orleans in February then, especially considering the pouring Glasgow rain outside my office window at the moment!

APSA 2014 Pol Comm Pre-conference Paper Now Online

The paper that I presented at the 12th APSA Political Communication pre-conference on the 27th of August in Washington, DC together with Dounia Mahlouly is now available on the website of the George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. Click here to download a copy (password protected – pre-conference attendees only). This is part of my Voter Ecology project on search engines and elections in the UK, the U.S., Italy and Egypt.

ISA 2014 Paper – ‘Googling Anti-Politics’ Available for Download

While I pack to leave for freezing (!) Toronto, you can now download a free copy of the paper that Paul Reilly (University of Leicester) and I are going to be presenting at the 2014 International Studies Association’s (ISA) Annual Meeting. This is a piece of work that uses freely available online application Google Trends to gain new insights into the rise of anti-political establishment parties in Europe, focusing in particular on the case of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Click here to access the paper (ISA login required). If you’re at ISA, please come say hi – Paul and I will present our work on Saturday 29th March, 1:45pm in the MacDonald Room at the Hilton Hotel and I am likely to be at other ICOMM events the rest of the time. If you’re not in Toronto but still have some interesting thoughts about the paper or my research more generally, feel free to email or reach me on Twitter.

Search Engines and Social Science Working Paper (Google Forum UK)

Click here to download my working paper: “Search Engines and Social Science: A Revolution in the Making.” I prepared this in April 2013 as a way to secure a legacy for the “Google Forum UK” project. This was a series of meetings supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that brought together social scientists from a wide range of disciplines with Google’s team in London between 2010-12 to discuss the integration of search engine data into academic scholarship. This initiative provided the foundations for a broader collaboration between the ESRC and Google, which generated six knowledge exchange projects including the Voter Ecology one in which I took a leading role in methodology design and data analysis.