Policy-making, Text Analysis, and Big Data: A Workshop in Digital Humanities/Knowledge Exchange

A Knowledge Exchange event sponsored by the University of Aberdeen with the cooperation of the THiNK Network

July 30th 2013 12-17:00
Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen

Workshop description:

Policy-making and the law are fundamental to communal life and social progress. Given that policies and law are expressed in language and in social contexts, they are a natural "object" to study in the Humanities. One new approach is to apply current text analytic and information retrieval tools to better understand the substance of the policy documents, deliberative discourse, and related documents. More broadly, textual analysis and retrieval is at the heart of a range of interdisciplinary and applied research; it is a key element of Digital Humanities. While small scale studies are feasible and illuminating, it is essential to scale up research to handle the abundance of textual information, so-called 'Big Data'. We have organised a workshop of speakers and discussion sessions to consider the state-of-the art in policy-making, textual analysis, and Big Data as well as the opportunities for cross-disciplinary research and development. The workshop brings together academic researchers, SMEs, and the Public Sector to exchange knowledge and outline project proposals in Digital Humanities. 


Professor Barbara Fennell, Department of Linguistics  b.a.fennell@abdn.ac.uk
Dr Adam Wyner,
Department of Computing Sciences  azwyner@abdn.ac.uk


Workshop Schedule:

12:00-12:30                       Registration/Lunch         
12:30-13:30  Session 1    Public Policy-making Practice (C. Cottrill)
                                             Policy-making (A. Wyner)

13:30-14:30  Session 2     Deliberative Democracy in Action (M. Oliver)  
Text Analysis, News Media, Psychiatry (N. Akhtar)

14:30-15:00                         Coffee break                       
15.00-16:00  Session 3      Big Data (A. Goker)


  1. Caitlin Cottrill, Lecturer, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Aberdeen. Caitlin will outline her knowledge about and experience in a range of policy-making contexts, particularly in domains of transportation and the environment. She will discuss some current issues and trends in policy-making.
  2. Nooreen Akhtar, Research Training Fellow, Department of Applied Medicine, University of Aberdeen. Nooreen will discuss her investigations of how patients, public and stakeholders perceive and interpret information about anti-depressants in UK newspapers. It uses computational linguistic analysis and face-to-face interviews.
  3. Matthew Oliver, Unlock Democracy. Unlock Democracy promotes deliberative, participatory, and transparent democratic activities by organising meetings and making available web-based tools to inform the public. Matthew is a Press and Project Manager and National Coordinator at Unlock Democracy. He will discuss aspects of Unlock Democracy and deliberative democracy. 
  4. Adam Wyner, Lecturer, Department of Computing Science, University of Aberdeen. Adam's research interests are in the intersection of Law, Logic, Computer Science, and Language. Adam will present aspects of web-based tools to support deliberative, public policy-making, along with the analysis of legal materials.
  5. Ayse Goker, Professor, School of Computing Science and Digital Media, Robert Gordon University. Ayse's research interests are driven by a desire to research and improve information access and retrieval for users. Ayse has been the Principal Investigator of a range of UK and EU projects. Most recently, all the Scottish University Computing schools are partners through SICSA on the Innovation Centre bid for Data Science, with Robert Gordon University as its proposed NorthEast hub. 

To register and for further information, please contact the organisers at the email address above or via our THiNK email address think@abdn.ac.uk by 27th July 2013.