Project to Examine Social Data Analytics

January 9th, 2013 | Categories: Uncategorized

An interdisciplinary group of researchers from SUNY Oneonta is collaborating with researchers from Penn State on a new effort to train students in the emerging field of social data analytics.

The project, funded by a competitive SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG), will teach SUNY Oneonta undergraduates to organize and analyze “Big Data”—the vast amount of information generated through social media interactions.

The first two topics of study will be hydrofracking and controversies over marine mammals. With continued funding, other areas will be explored.

SUNY Oneonta Provost Maria Thompson said the project offers an innovative way to expose students to a developing type of analysis.

“This is exciting for a couple reasons,” said Thompson. “First, our students, most of whom are part of a generation immersed in social media, will learn a lot through this sort of examination. Second, we’re able to offer this experience through collaboration, which increasingly is how research will be advanced, not just on our campus or within SUNY, but across all of higher education.”

According to Associate Professor Achim Koeddermann of the Philosophy Department at SUNY Oneonta, along with the tools to create and investigate these data collections come questions about the appropriateness of their use. This is one aspect of Big Data that researchers will examine.

“Big Data collections are a reality,” said Koeddermann. “Who should have access to data collection, and what can, could or should we do with it? Oneonta students and professors from four departments are looking at the privacy issues and ethical considerations raised by this kind of data-gathering capability.”

The SUNY Oneonta team includes members of the Political Science, Sociology and Philosophy departments, and the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center. They have developed a partnership with researchers at Penn State who recently were awarded National Science Foundation funding for an innovative training grant, Big Data Social Science IGERT. Access to data collection and analysis tools as well as an offer of training and assistance from graduate students familiar with these tools will be the initial activities in this relationship. (For more information on Penn State’s new IGERT program, see

Additional partnerships with IBM and the University of Buffalo are being explored.

A competitive grants program open to SUNY faculty and support staff across all disciplines, IITG encourages development of innovations that meet The Power of SUNY’s transformative vision. Grant recipients will openly share project outcomes, enabling SUNY colleagues to replicate and build upon an innovation.