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Applications of Big Data to Social Sciences

Claudia Abreu Lopes, University of Cambridge

13.00-16.00 July 17th 2017

Course Description:
This workshop will introduce the participants to methodologies to integrate designed data with organic data to understand dynamics of attitudinal and normative change. Using real-world examples of development projects in Kenya and in Somalia, we will discuss limitations of big data approaches, particularly related to research questions and issues of self-selection, measurement, privacy and informed consent. Practical guidance related to preparation of big datasets will be provided, along with examples of data science tools for parsing and analysing textual data using statistical/machine leaning techniques.

Learning outcomes:

  • Participants will appreciate the merit of combining designed and organic data to address social research problems;
  • Participants will be able to articulate methodological and ethical issues with big data approaches;
  • Participants will be able to identify best practices for preparation and analyses of big datasets;
  • Participants will be able to evaluate the research design of big data projects.

Prerequisites: Participants should be well versed in R, with strong statistical knowledge.

About the instructor:
Claudia Abreu Lopes is a Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer in Statistics and Methods at the Department of Politics and International Studies of the University of Cambridge. Her research has focused on digital methodologies to gather and analyse public opinion in African countries and on the value of big data for monitoring and progressing sustainable development goals. As Head of Research and Innovation of Africa’s Voices Foundation – a start-up from the University of Cambridge – she has coordinated several big data projects in East and West Africa that harness the widespread use of mobile phones and social media to consult citizens for governance and public health outcomes.