University of Bath

The Public Data Lab

A project which aims to examine the creation and use of public data by mobilising a broad, interdisciplinary consortium of experts.

The Public Data Lab aims to facilitate social science research, teaching and public engagement activities around the future of the data society. It mobilises an interdisciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and organisations in order to develop and disseminate innovative research, teaching, design and participation formats for the creation and use of public data. It aspires to support deliberation and knowledge exchange around the creation and use of digital public data in the service of social research, policymaking, advocacy, journalism and public engagement around current and future global challenges – from climate change to tax base erosion, migration to automation.

In the longer term, we anticipate that the Public Data Lab will become a pioneer in the following areas:

  • Undertaking exemplary research and data projects around major global challenges;
  • Advancing digital methods, tools and code for working with public data;
  • Supporting public engagement and critical literacy around data infrastructures;
  • Developing participatory design methods for creating and working with data;
  • Catalyse transnational and transdisciplinary collaborations around public data;
  • Mapping and facilitating the translation of data practices between domains.

Its first project, ‘A Field Guide to Fake News’, was launched at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

With funding from the Sage Foundation, the Public Data Lab will run three thematic five-day ‘data sprints’ which bring together a range of researchers and practitioners for an intensive period to collaborate in the co-production of data research projects. The anticipated themes for these data sprints are data for governance at the sub-regional level, data and cities and data and democracy.

Project team

The lab is coordinated by an interdisciplinary team of leading researchers in digital sociology, digital methods, science and technology studies, internet studies, policy studies and design studies.

In addition to the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath, the lab’s initial network currently includes researchers from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (University of Warwick, UK), the Citizen Data Lab (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands), Density Design (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), the Department of Digital Humanities (King’s College London, UK), the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Global Studies Institute (University of Geneva, Switzerland), the Innovation Insights Hub (University of the Arts London, UK), INRIA (France), the Media of Cooperation research group (University of Siegen, Germany), the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris, France), the Techno-Anthropology Lab (Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark), the University of Ghent (Belgium), the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and the Université de Rennes 1 (France).