Harnessing the potential of social media data for social research – Call for workshop contributions

Deadline for submissions now extended to May 27th midday (BST)!
Harnessing the potential of social media data for social research
An interdisciplinary workshop discussing avenues, challenges and prospects in the conduct of social research projects using social media data.
Workshop at WebSci15: Tuesday 30th June, 2-5 pm, University of Oxford


Workshop overview
The growing popularity of social media presents an exciting area for social research. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc. create new spaces in which users can ‘meet’, interact and share information with multiple others quickly. These interactions interweave with offline actions and have significant effects on social behaviours, events and organisations. It is necessary for social research to conceptualise and examine empirically the organisation of social media platforms, the flow of information within (and across) them and the interrelationships of online and offline activity. Social media research may generate new forms of data and techniques for analysis, but also presents novel challenges – for instance relating to processes of data collection, ethical issues around informed consent and methodological approaches to data analysis.
The aim of this workshop is to bring together social researchers across disciplines with an interest in social media research. We will discuss projects, share thoughts on – and hopefully solutions to – research challenges, and explore ideas about future directions for work in this area. This will be achieved through a series of activities focusing on social research projects that involve the use of social media data. These activities will provide substantive input and also encourage in-depth discussion. The workshop is part of the ACM Web Science Conference WebSci15.

Invitation to submit
We welcome submissions for this workshop in the form of extended abstracts of 1,000 to 2,000 words. Selected submissions will be presented as short talks during the workshop. We are looking for examples of current and recent social research projects involving social media data. Submissions should cover the following topics:
– aims and background of the project
– project methods and use of social media data
– expected project outputs
– research challenges and opportunities arising from the use of social media data. These might include, but are not limited to, challenges and opportunities involving:
o real time data collection
o informed consent and ethics
o data driven research design
o combining quantitative and qualitative approaches
o conceptual shaping and frameworks
o data management
o reflexivity
o interdisciplinarity

How to submit
Please submit the extended abstract as a pdf file via EasyChair. Papers will be selected by the workshop organising committee to represent a breadth of academic disciplines, methods and types of social media data investigated. Key dates are:
Deadline for submissions: extended deadline May 27th midday (BST)
Notification of acceptance: May 28th 2015 – we will send notifications in time to register at the WebSci early bird rate
Workshop date: June 30th 2015

Workshop impact and outputs
The workshop will highlight the cross disciplinary relevance of social research involving social media data and provide an opportunity for researchers across a range of disciplines to convene and discuss shared interests. It will foster a positive environment in which participants are encouraged to share findings, experiences, reflections and ideas.
All accepted abstracts will be made available via our website http://digitalwildfire.org/ . We will also collate and disseminate details of the workshop presentations, discussions and conclusions. At the workshop we will invite presenters and other attendees to submit articles and ideas for a journal special issue on social media data in social research.
Workshop background and Organising Committee

The workshop forms part of a current inter-disciplinary project “Digital Wildfire: (Mis)information flows, propagation and responsible governance”. The project examines the phenomenon of ‘digital wildfires’ in which misleading or provocative content – for instance in the form of rumour or hate speech – spreads rapidly across social media with negative impact. The project combines empirical investigation of information flows on social media platforms with an exploration of potential regulatory tools and mechanisms in digital social spaces. The project will produce an empirically grounded methodology for the study and advancement of the responsible governance of social media. The project is led by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the Universities of Warwick, Cardiff, and de Montfort. The project team and workshop organising committee are:
Professor Marina Jirotka – University of Oxford
Professor Rob Procter – University of Warwick
Professor Bernd Carsten Stahl – De Montfort University
Professor Omer Rana – University of Cardiff
Professor William Housley – University of Cardiff
Mr Adam Edwards – University of Cardiff
Dr Matt Williams – University of Cardiff
Dr Pete Burnap – University of Cardiff
Dr Carina Girvan – University of Cardiff
Dr Helena Webb – University of Oxford
Further information
For further information about the workshop, please contact helena.webb@cs.ox.ac.uk
For further information about the Digital Wildfire project, see our website http://www.digitalwildfire.org/ and find us on Twitter @EthicsWildfire.

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