Deep think event for digital social research

Article dated: 19 March 2012

In February 2012, several champions of digital social research were invited to participate in a National Experts Meeting in Oxford organised by the National Directorate for e-Social Science.

The aim was to review progress on the Digital Social Research (DSR) project, formulate an expert vision of digital social science and recommend future steps, including recommendations to ESRC for subsequent activities. DSR is a forward-looking vision for world-class social research which harnesses advances in digital technology and practice for maximum impact.

"The gathering was really thought-provoking," reflected Archive Associate Director Louise Corti. "As we listened and responded to the 'state of the nation' talks, and participated in a number of break-out groups, a variety of interesting perspectives on what DSR is arose."

The strategic vision of social science up to 2014 is set out in the ESRC Strategic Plan and the National Data Strategy. Significant change in social science research capability, practice, tools and resources is anticipated in this period and beyond. Based on a review of strategic documents and the consultation exercise, ESRC's vision is to stimulate and enable a growing DSR community to embrace new data types (for example administrative, commercial and tracking data), new data collection practice, new methods and new procedures.

For the Archive, the challenges will be two-fold: working with new kinds of data for which the collection methods (and thus methodological provenance) are hard to define; and the emergence of other data providers in the UK and beyond and how we enable joined-up resource discovery and interaction with both data and analytics resources. The UK Data Archive's flagship service, ESDS, will ensure that joint working on these matters with both DSR and the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) continues.