Phase 3 of the Big Data Network is focused on civil society data and new forms of data (previously social media data).

Civil Society

In 2014 the ESRC commissioned four Civil Society Data Partnership Projects, aimed at establishing or building on relationships between academic researchers and civil society organisations to demonstrate the value of improved data infrastructure, enabling collection and analysis of data which is of interest to civil society organisations and through enabling the sector to better utilise its own data. Please see here for more information on the funded projects.

New Forms of Data

In order to maintain momentum in the new and emerging forms of data area the ESRC awarded £1.4 million of funding to the RCUK Digital Economy Hubs in 2014. This funding was to build on and/or enhance work they have been carrying out which is closely aligned to this agenda, as well as to conduct complementary activities which will contribute to the development of infrastructure for research using social media data. This work was funded for a period of 18 months running from February 2014 to August 2015.

ESRC’s ultimate ambition in this area is to establish a new international, interdisciplinary 'Knowledge Hub' - drawing on existing and planned infrastructures and other investments made by the Research Councils and others to build a critical mass in capability, to access and analyse these new and emerging forms of data for policy-driven, impactful research in the social sciences. This hub will be founded on the principles of partnership-working, and will be focused on developing and delivering a high-quality service and data products which are of interest to and available for use by social research communities.

In order to better scope and inform future plans for this 'knowledge hub', ESRC has commissioned policy demonstrator projects to showcase the potential value of these forms of data for policymakers. 8 projects were funded as part of this call running from February 2017 for up to a year. The projects funded in the call are listed below.

This scoping work is following the indicative awarding to ESRC of up to £75 million for a range of activities as outlined in the Science Capital Roadmap published in December 2014.