The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Call for Papers



Recent years have seen an increasing buzz around how ‘Big Data’ can uncover patterns of human behaviour and help predict social trends. Most social activities today leave digital imprints that can be collected and stored in the form of large datasets of transactional data. These data are already being used to prevent epidemics or combat fraud and crime, but the research potential of these data is still underexploited.

The impact of Big Data goes beyond academic research: the behavioural insights gained from transactional information can also be used to drive evidence-based policy making and ‘nudge’ political behaviour. However, the technical skills necessary to analyse large datasets often prevent social scientists from exploiting its potential. Much detail is also lost in the analysis of Big Data, which emphasises aggregated patterns over mechanisms operating at the individual level and lacks the demographic information of survey data, for example.

This conference calls for papers that explore the new research frontiers opened up by Big Data as well as its limitations. We are looking for research that uses large datasets to inform old debates in political science, and papers that develop innovative methodological tools (from experiments, to crowd-sourcing, to online ethnography) to overcome the omissions of big datasets. The Internet, Politics, Policy 2012 conference aims to serve as a forum to encourage discussion across disciplinary boundaries on how to exploit Big Data to inform policy debates and advance social science research.


The conference aims to attract papers from a range of disciplines analysing Big Data or developing approaches that dig into the mechanisms that large datasets do not consider. Panels will be organised in twin tracks:

  • Papers in the Politics track will explore the insights that large datasets and complementary methodological tools offer in the analysis of political behaviour, including – but not limited to – mobilisations, collective action, or public opinion formation.
  • Papers in the Policy track will look at how behavioural insights gained from Big Data analysis, and from experiments in online settings, can inform policy debates and shape policy making, including e-health, on-line education, cybercrime, security and privacy.

These two areas are intertwined, and will be merged in plenary sessions, investigating the intersection of policy and politics in the Big Data era.

Proposal Submission

We welcome papers reporting on innovative research exploiting large datasets or applying novel methodological tools aimed to overcome the limitations of Big Data. We particularly welcome papers that report empirical results and employ analytical approaches that would not have been possible without access to digital information. Perspectives from any academic discipline are welcomed, particularly: political science, economics, law, sociology, information science, communications, philosophy, computer science, psychology, management, geography and medicine.

Paper proposals

Proposals should include a title and a 1000 word abstract specifying the research question, describing the methods and data used, and summarising the main findings. Abstracts will be peer reviewed, and the authors of accepted proposals are expected to submit full papers prior to the conference. Applicants will have the opportunity to co-submit their paper to the journal Policy and Internet, which will operate a fast-track review process for accepted papers.

Paper submissions can also be considered for a Best Paper Award of 300 GBP (sponsored by the journal Policy and Internet). The prize will be awarded at the closing session of the conference. As the paper is intended to be published in a future issue of the journal, authors should indicate whether they would like their paper to be considered for the prize.

Poster proposals

Posters should summarise in a visually engaging manner the purpose, methods and results of an original piece of research. All accepted submissions will be considered for a Best Poster Award of 300 GBP (sponsored by Google). The prize will be awarded at the closing session of the conference.


  • Abstract deadline: 1000 words to be submitted by 15 March 2012
  • Decision on abstracts: 15 April 2012
  • Poster deadline: 15 April 2012
  • Poster decisions: 15 May 2012
  • Accepted paper submission deadline: 15 August 2012