Research Projects

Improving the Health of Our Online Civic Culture: A New Centre for Research and Doctoral Training at Loughborough University

Research Projects

News Sharing on UK Social Media: Misinformation, Disinformation, and Correction

See our new Survey Report.


PhD Research Projects

1. The Cultivation of Hatred Online

Primary supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick.
Secondary supervisors: Professor Tom JacksonDr Line NyhagenDr Cristian Tileagă.

This studentship has been awarded to Catherine Baker. Catherine holds a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin, where she also worked as a research assistant in the Trinity Institute of Neuroscience. She obtained recognition of “High Commendation” for her study, “At the intersection of protest and race: A critical discourse analysis of how the Black Lives Matter movement is portrayed in US online popular news media.” Catherine will research gender-based targeting and harassment online, including the "manosphere" online subculture.

2. Incivility and Emotions in Policy Discussions on Social Media

Primary supervisor: Professor John Downey.
Secondary supervisor: Dr Suzanne ElayanDr Line Hyhagen

This studentship has been awarded to Dayei Oh. Dayei Oh holds an MA with Distinction in International Media and Communication from the University of Nottingham and has previously worked at the Associated Press (AP). She will research emotions and incivility in pro-abortion and anti-abortion discourse on Facebook news comments in the UK, Ireland, and South Korea.

3. Correcting Misinformation and Disinformation on Social Media

Primary supervisor: Dr Martin Sykora.
Secondary supervisors: Dr Cristian VaccariDr Cristian Tileagă.

This studentship goes to Rachel Armitage. Rachel holds First Class Honours in Political Science from the University of Birmingham where she also won the H. S. Ferns Prize for outstanding achievement. She has worked for Bite the Ballot and Nottingham City Council and in 2016 was awarded the Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship which enabled her to visit the US for three months to explore approaches to voter registration and political engagement amongst young people and marginalised groups in advance of the presidential election. Rachel's project aims to develop online tools and individual resilience skills that will equip individual users to recognise and challenge online misinformation and disinformation.

4. Understanding the Spread of Online Misinformation That Rejects Scientific Consensus: Audiences, Platforms, and Algorithms (from October 2019)

Primary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick
Secondary Supervisors: Dr Martin Sykora, Dr Cristian Vaccari

This project will examine the interrelationships between people's motivations for sharing information, the types of information they share (such as media sources and statements by elites of various kinds), and the affordances of video sharing platforms, particularly YouTube. The project will compile a dataset of misleading information rejecting scientific consensus on selected key issues of our time, such as, for example, climate change or health. It will undertake content analysis as well as examine audience interpretations and responses. The project will also assess the role of algorithmic power in shaping people’s exposure and responses to misinformation rejecting scientific consensus and explore how the spread and societal impact of such misinformation might be reduced.

5. What Role Do Social Media Influencers Play in Spreading Misinformation and Disinformation? (from October 2019)

Primary Supervisor: Professor Louise Cooke
Secondary Supervisors: Professor Andrew Chadwick, Dr Suzanne Elayan, Dr Simone Natale

What drives people to behave in democratically-dysfunctional ways in the online environment, and how can we change this behaviour? This project will develop culturally-sensitive concepts for designing new algorithms to detect social media influencers who spread misinformation and disinformation on social media. Through a perspective attentive to the ethical and cultural implications of human-machine interactions on social media platforms, it will both improve understanding of the values embedded in platform algorithms and the role social media influencers play in spreading false information in online networks. The work will sit at the interdisciplinary intersection of computational text mining, applied data science, sociolinguistics, media theory, theories of artificial intelligence, and normative ethical theory.