Interdisciplinary team of researchers receive $3.4M convergence grant from NSF

January 9, 2020

ANN ARBOR – A group of University of Michigan researchers has been awarded a $3.4 million collaborative National Science Foundation convergence grant to develop and test methodologies for sampling, validating, and analyzing social media.

A collaboration between U-M and Georgetown University, the project, “The Future of Quantitative Research in Social Science,” will cross-pollinate ideas from different disciplines about data acquisition, sampling, design, data transformation, validity, reliability, modeling and ethics to establish new methods and guidelines for leveraging social media data to answer questions about human beliefs, human behavior, and the society they live in. The project includes multiple Centers and faculty located at the Institute for Social Research, as well as faculty at the School of Information.

Pamela Davis-Kean

“As more data become available about people across different contexts and time, it’s important for researchers to find ways to combine these multiple sources of data to help understand the unique ways in which humans experience their lives,” said Pamela Davis-Kean, a University of Michigan professor who works within the Institute for Social Research and Department of Psychology. She also serves as an Associate Director of the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS); this project and collaboration is a continuation of internal funding originally provided by MIDAS several years ago. “This is a multi- and transdisciplinary project looking at social media data from a Computer Science and Social Science perspective,” Davis-Kean said.

Some of the project‘s goals include:

  • Developing a methodology that integrates social science methodologies with components of the knowledge discovery process to enhance research that uses organic data
  • Establishing guidelines for using social media data to answer questions across the different social and data science disciplines
  • Exposing social science students to these new types of data and engaging them in data science research within this framework, thereby enabling them with new tools and techniques for leveraging such data for their own future research.

Another core goal of this convergence project is building a strong network of scholars interested in working on social media methodological issues to advance disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research using social media data. To facilitate this convergence, the research team will work with the South Big Data Hub to create a new Google special interest working group; more details will be provided as the project gears up in Year 1.

Dory Knight-Ingram, [email protected]

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