2018 Nancy Baym Book Award

It’s a great honor to announce that AoIR’s book award committee has unanimously decided that Lynn Scofield Clark and Regina Marchi’s book Young People and the Future of News is this year’s Nancy Baym Book Award winner!

The committee found it an important book that is substantive and deeply researched, with strong empirical foundations and insightful theoretical grounding and contributions. We believe it helps us understand both today’s news environment and the directions society is likely to go in the future. What’s more, it is a pleasure to read.

There were an outstanding field of nominations this year. The committee was thrilled to see so much great work coming from the AoIR community.

AoIR is grateful to Jeff Hemsley, Nicholas John, and Helen Kennedy along with Nancy Baym, Chair, for their work reviewing this year’s nominations.

Making Twitter research reproducible through archiving

Making Twitter research reproducible through archiving

In an article now published in Big Data & Society Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda, Katrin Weller, Wolfgang Zenk-Möltgen, Jürgen Pfeffer and Fred Morstetter present a solution to sharing social media data with the help of a social science data archive.

Researchers working with data gathered from social media platforms have long been struggling with the difficulty that sharing such data faces many obstacles, not the least of which are restrictions imposed by social media companies and issues of privacy and consent. However, sharing social media data used in research for the purposes of reproducibility and transparency currently seems more urgent than ever – and this article shows how collaborations with established archives may be able to help.

With research data repositories and other research infrastructure institutions starting to target social media researchers some important steps are being taken to improve social media data sharing for the sake of research transparency. Such efforts contribute to enhancing comparability and reproducibility in social media research by taking some first steps towards setting standards for sustainable data archiving. The article showcases the example of a big dataset containing geotagged tweets which was archived at the GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences, a publicly funded German data archive for secure and long-term archiving of social science data. Tweet IDs and additional information were archived to improve reproducibility of the initial research while also attending to ethical and legal considerations, and taking into account Twitter’s terms of service in particular. The authors also provide some general background to the process of long-term archiving of research data, considers current obstacles for sharing and archiving social media data.

The solution for archiving the geotagged tweets balances three requirements: sharing legally and ethically, sharing to allow for reproducibility (e.g., precise documentation) and sharing to allow for novel questions and reuse (i.e. researcher friendly data provision).

The sharing solution balances privacy requirements and the (ethical) obligation to make research reproducible and comparable and the authors suggest that to advance ethically reflective social media data sharing, it needs to be best practice to establish a carefully considered balance between protecting user interests and ensuring research transparency that is also in adherence with the data provider’s terms of service. They advocate for facilitating the sharing of information and materials in addition to the data to make it easier to find such a balance. However, it will require deliberation and careful consideration for every individual social media dataset shared in the future in order to find similar (and never ideal) compromises that balance these conflicting demands.

Travel Scholarships for #AoIR2018

In order to increase the diversity of participation in the annual AoIR conferences, the Association of Internet Researchers makes available several conference fee waivers and travel stipends each year. These stipends are mostly funded through the generosity of our membership.

Applications are invited from authors whose proposals have already been accepted via the conference reviewing process, as well as by PhD students applying to the Doctoral Colloquium.

All applications should be emailed directly to the Association Coordinator, Michelle Gardner (ac [at] AoIR [dot] org), and must be received by 20 May 2018. Late applications cannot be considered.

Applications should include (1) a short (2-page) CV and (2) a statement no longer than 2 pages that must include the following information:

  1. A brief description of how the author’s presentation or contribution to the #AoIR2018 conference will uniquely articulate and/or represent a distinctive perspective (e.g., of persons and/or cultures) otherwise unlikely to be represented at the conference.
  2. An explanation of the author’s distinctive circumstances that would warrant a fee waiver, and an indication that the applicant will be able to make effective use of the funds. These may include, but are by no means limited to: exceptionally limited financial resources (e.g., as a graduate student or scholar in a non-OECD country, as a disabled person on a limited income, etc.); exceptional limits on institutional support otherwise normally available (e.g., travel funds, grant funds, etc.); other exceptional circumstances that render the usual AoIR conference fees an insurmountable obstacle to attending the conference in order to present the author’s work. Please include any information on access you have to additional funding.

AoIR membership is encouraged but is not a requirement for the application.

Applicants may also include a letter of support from someone familiar with their circumstances, special needs, etc. Such a letter is not a requirement.

Applications will be reviewed by the AoIR Executive Committee.

Fee waivers and travel stipends of up to $500 (with one stipend of up to $1,500) will be awarded. Awards are intended to reimburse participants for expenses incurred and will be paid out after the conference. The awardee is required to provide expense receipts to AoIR in order access travel stipends.

Decisions are made on the basis of the Executive Committee’s collective judgment as to which presentations will make the most distinctive contribution to the AoIR conference. Priority will be given to applicants who have not previously received a travel award from AoIR. In order to respect and protect the privacy of the applicants, all Executive Committee discussions and deliberations will be held in strict confidence.

The AoIR Executive Committee regretfully acknowledges that there may be more meritorious applications than we will be able to award and support. Nonetheless, we hope that awarded fee waivers and travel stipends will not only assist deserving scholars and researchers, but also enrich the #AoIR2018 conference for all attendees.