Pulling Together Social Media Research at UCL

By Lorna J Richardson, on 21 August 2013

I’m working with Dr Lock on the Social Media Project, and over the next two weeks, I will be updating the blog with further information about the variety of UCL staff who conduct their research using social media as a data source. This information will also include links to the wealth of articles produced on the subject at UCL.

If you are using social media platforms for data, rather than dissemination, for your research, or undertaking any research that considers social media and its impact on politics, communication, society and so on, please get in touch! You can email me here: l.richardson@ucl.ac.uk

Kickstarting new research on social media at UCL

By Simon J Lock, on 10 October 2012

The aim of this project is to get some new interdisciplinary research projects off the ground at UCL. Many people have fed in different ideas of what they might like to do, but now we’d like to see those ideas being turned into research proposals, funding bids and/or pilot projects.

There are currently two Research council funding streams that might be good places to start thinking about aiming bids towards:

AHRC’s Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities (deadline 10 Jan 2013)

RCUK’s various Digital Economy Funding Opportunities

If you know of other possible funding sources let us know in the comments.

What happens now?

The Steering group are looking for small working groups to take forward ideas for future research projects or research bids. There is a small amount of money (£3000) available for these groups to hire someone to provide assistance in helping them progress these ideas into concrete projects and proposals, for example, desk research/literature reviews or perhaps to run a small workshop if it is needed.

Groups who want to apply for money will need to submit a formal proposal to the Steering Group for funds.

Any other groups can get going as and when they wish but we’d encourage them to stay affiliated with the UCLSMP project, in the interests of networking and collaboration and to avoid any duplication of efforts. Any working groups are also welcome to use this blog as a focal point for collaboration, dissemination and engagement.


Project proposals for funds to Steering Group – mid-November.

By the end of December 2012 we anticipate that projects will be underway with work towards submitting a larger grant proposal and/or be starting a new pilot project at UCL.

Proposals should also include:

  • The proposal should explain the project idea. An output of all proposals must be either a concrete pilot project and/or a funding proposal to a specific funding body for a longer-term interdisciplinary project.
  • Names of participants (participants must come from more than one department/centre at UCL)
  • An explanation of how the project is interdisciplinary
  • A case for any research funds needed to assist in the development of the project/proposal

Please email your proposal to simon.lock@ucl.ac.uk by the end of Oct 31st




What research do we want to do in the future?

By Simon J Lock, on 4 October 2012

After a brief hiatus over the summer we’re forging on with the social media project and ready to get on with doing new things.  Below are the collated results from our kick-off meeting on what areas of new research, and research questions, participants wanted to see being explored at UCL in the future.

  • Database management
  • Engagement on Wikipedia (case study of health)
  • Private companies’ use of growing amount of web/social/public data
  • Algorithms and social behavior
  • Business innovation and digital technology research
  • Doing anthropology/ethnography of social media companies
  • Illegal logging evidence
  • location mapping as social tools to support communities and inventory of indigenous resources
  • social networking amongst scientists (e.g. myexperiment)
  • Applied location-based social networks
  • Navigability of online networks and cues to relevance of attention
  • Information resources for new members
  • Digital archives
  • The notion of privacy in the area of social networks
  • Micropublication in science
  • Enterprise social networks
  • Presentation of self, digital identities, ‘external’ and ‘internal’ networks
  • Using mobile phones for social networks – open source software and CIC funding
  • Sentiment analysis of content
  • Meshwork vs. networks in social media
  • Translocal solidarity on social media
  • Developing a way of responding to a suicidal crisis via social media
  • Impact of crowdsourced datasets (assembled by the public) on the ‘authority’ f professional academic interpretation/explanation
  • Co-creation of content with community groups via social media
  • Opinion mining – automatic analysis
  • Digital museums and archives and social media
  • Student engagement in social media for teaching
  • Academic social networking
  • Use of social media in UCL
  • The language of social media (how they affect the way language is used)

Other questions raised in discussion

  • Can UCL gain access to government open data sets?
  • How can we we all share data at UCL? Can we catalogue what data already exists?
  • The underlying private/corporate ownership of social media
  •  The role of the user as a commodity
  • What do people understand by privacy?
  • How does social media affect the student body? Does it affect campus behaviour?

What do you think? Any other things we might want to research collectively? Please post any comments or thoughts.

Coming up next: let’s get some research working groups going! 

Demos and Sussex University open Centre for the Analysis of Social Media

By Simon J Lock, on 27 September 2012

This new Demos project might be of interest to many of you, as the issue of how to use social media data better was raised repeatedly at the town meeting.

“The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) is a collaboration between Demos and the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex. It produces new political, social and policy insight and understanding through social media research.”


Lunchtime workshop on Social Media at UCL

By Simon J Lock, on 5 July 2012

Posted on behalf of Ciarán Moynihan, this workshop might be of interest to many of you.

Dear All,

As part of the Digital Department project (summary attached) we are planning on holding a workshop on Social Media at UCL.

The purpose of this workshop is to get both academics and teaching administrators together to share with us (and each other) the various ways in which you are using social media (twitter, facebook, linkedIn etc.) in your work, for you to share any departmental guidelines you may have on using it and also to discuss what issues/concerns you have in this regard.

We would like to pool as much information, guidelines etc that people have/are aware of in order to try and share this information with the wider UCL community as well as providing feedback to ELE/ISD on what they could help provide in terms of guidance for these various tools.

If you are interested in attending, please can you let me know your availability on this doodle poll:


If you have any queries please do let me know

Kind regards



Ciarán Moynihan

Project Coordinator

The Digital Department

University College London

Room 139, 1st Floor

74 Huntley Street



Part 2 – Who is working on social media at UCL?

By Simon J Lock, on 25 June 2012

Some more feedback from our Town Meeting. Part 1 (below) asked for generic areas of research at UCL, this time we’re posting the responses to our question ‘Who is already working on social media at UCL?’ and further to this details of any specific projects.

Below represents a verbatim transcript of the feedback (our very high-tech post-it note system).

If you are listed below, or one of the comments was yours please feel free to add more context/detail in the comments below (weblinks for example)

If you are not on the list then please make yourself or your project known in the comments!

We’ll collate this into a updatable list of people and projects to go alongside our growing list of UCL publications on social media in the resources section of the blog.

People or specific departments and projects working on social media at UCL

  • Tilley – Social construction of landscape
  • Social Network Analysis expertise across UCL (CS CASA CEGE etc)
  • Existing expertise in social media (including location-based) @ CASA
  • Netnography with spanish speaking migrants – Pablo Mateos (UCL Geography)
  • UCLDH – user studies and social media for public engagement
  • ‘Social Stream’ – project under the UK PhD Centre in Financial computing (Ilya Zhelvdev)
  • Online support groups (illness and social media) – Henry Potts, CHIME, Chris Barker, Psych
  • Science and Technology Studies Dept: how do technologies fit in societies generally?
  • Myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk
  • UCL Mental health sciences staff have expertise in picking up on risky communication i.e. suicidal crisis
  • Prototype for geographical harvesting of tweets
  • A load of computer scientists

Next post: direction for future research at UCL

Part 1 – What research is already going on at UCL on social media?

By Simon J Lock, on 22 June 2012

One of the first questions we are interested in as part of our Grand Challenges Project on social media at UCL is what research is already going on at UCL on social media? At our kick-off Town MeetingDaniel Miller discussed some of the work going on in the Anthropology Department at the meeting, and project member Claire Warwick also told us of the many different projects and people working on social media in the Centre for Digital Humanities.

We asked participants at the meeting to tell us about other areas of research which uses, or is on social media at UCL.

Below is a wordle which contains all the other areas of research on social media currently going on at UCL. If you notice any that are not listed then add them in the comments section below, preferably with links to the project websites:
Wordle: UCLSMP project

Next post: Who is working on social media at UCL?

Where Next for Social Media Research at UCL? Town Meeting Feedback

By Simon J Lock, on 1 June 2012

We’re going to be feeding back all the discussion and data collected at the Town meeting on the blog over the next few posts. We hope that this will allow those who were not there to also feed in further questions and suggestions for future research. It will also allow us to compile a updatable list of research, publications and people who are working in this area.

Finally, we’ll provide an idea of what needs to happen next and pull out, with your help, some of the key directions for future work of the project.

At the meeting we asked participants to feed in several different pieces of data:

  1. Who is already working on social media at UCL?
  2. What projects are already happening at UCL on social media?
  3. What areas of future research are people interested in exploring, or think UCL should explore, in the future
  4. What specific research questions would people like explored by future research?

Social Media Research: next steps agreed

By Simon J Lock, on 2 May 2012

Our energetic UCL Town Meeting in April brought together academic staff and students from across UCL to identify common interests and potential future research directions relating to social media.  STS staff Simon Lock, Jon Agar and Karen Bultitude teamed up with UCL colleagues from Digital Humanities and Anthropology to stimulate discussion and provide a mapping of academic staff and student interests in social media research.  The event formed part of a UCL Grand Challenges project which aims to develop collaborations and strategic research around social media at UCL.

See Simon J Lock’s presentation from the meeting below:

Simon J Lock UCLSMP townmeeting presentation

The participant contributions are still under review however initial analysis indicates interests in developing robust data sharing approaches as well as social media opportunities for student engagement and collaborative working with public groups.  We’ll be posting up the contributions to the blog very soon.

To keep up to date with the project follow #UCLSMP on Twitter or contact simon.lock@ucl.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list.

Town Meeting: Where next for social media research?

By Simon J Lock, on 27 April 2012

A UCL Town Meeting supported by the Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction

5.30 – 7.30pm, Monday 30 April 2012
(5.30-6pm – informal conversation and networking / 6- 7pm – panel discussion)

Roberts G08 Sir David Davies LT, Roberts Building (entrance in Malet Place)

Register here:  http://socialmediaresearch.eventbrite.co.uk

This meeting, supported by the UCL Grand Challenges team, is intended to bring together people from different parts of UCL who may be interested in research on social media, both theory and practice. The aim is to foster greater research collaboration and identify future potential at UCL.All UCL staff with research interests in social media are invited to attend the Town Meeting. Panel members will offer brief accounts of a sample of the work being undertaken on, and with, social media at UCL, and a general discussion with the audience will follow to help map out other relevant expertise, interest and opportunities.

Further details will be circulated closer to the event.  Do feel free to contact Dr Simon Lock (Science and Technology Studies) simon.lock@ucl.ac.uk if you have any questions about the event, or have information about UCL research activities of use to such a project.

Welcome by Anthony Finkelstein, Professor of Software Systems Engineering, UCL Computer Science


Simon Lock, Lecturer in Science Communication and Governance, UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies

Daniel Miller, Professor of Material Culture,  UCL Anthropology
Claire Warwick, Professor of Digital Humanities, Director, UCL Centre for Digital HumanitiesRegister here:  http://socialmediaresearch.eventbrite.co.uk

Directions from Front Lodge, Main UCL entrance, Gower Street: http://crf.casa.ucl.ac.uk/screenRoute.aspx?s=386&d=128&w=False

Drinks reception: Roberts Foyer