Roadmap event

Background and Aim

During the Roadmap Event participants of preceding training courses, leading scholars from communication and other social science fields as well as practitioners from relevant corporations will meet to discuss and craft a strategic roadmap for advancing computational methods in the field of communication. We envision a dialogue-intensive event with about 80 international participants.

Changes in communication are challenging empirical research

Due to the rapid diffusion and dynamic development of internet-based infrastructures, platforms, services, and applications much ‘classic’ (mass) communication is nowadays ‘delivered‘ via internet connections. Moreover, entirely new forms of interpersonal, intragroup, and public communication have emerged – social media represent the key example of this development. Thus, in the internet era, the mainstream manifestations of human exchange leave massive digital traces. The analysis of such ’big data‘ traces is rapidly turning from an interesting opportunity into a pressing necessity for communication, psychology, and other social sciences.

While many scholars in the social sciences acknowledge the chances and requirements of the digital revolution in communication, they are also facing fundamental challenges in implementing successful research programs, strategies, and designs that are based on computational methods and big data. Many of these challenges are impossible to resolve within individual research projects, by individual scholars, or by single academic institutions.

Working together to lay a foundation for computational communication science

The Roadmap Event aims to bring together young and advanced scholars from communication and related social sciences to discuss conceptual and strategic challenges. The mission is to prepare a strategic roadmap which provides recommendations for scholars on how to approach the transformation into the era of big data and which stimulates follow-up work. The roadmap thus should contribute to lay a foundation for the pathway into a new era of communication research in which the use of big data sets and methods are common and widely available research practices – just as survey research, observations, and media content analyses are mainstream techniques of communication inquiry today.


You can now find the full program with scheduled times and locations on the page “PROGRAM”.
Please note, that the times may be subject to change.

Find the program here


Big Questions


  • Introduction and kick-off discussion: Key elements of the strategic roadmap

    In this first themed session, all participants of the training courses as well as senior scholars and additional guests for the Roadmap Event get together. After a brief introduction, the groups from the training courses present insights, challenges, and questions for communication science that they compiled in the previous days. This collection of ideas sets the stage for the upcoming sessions and outlines first questions the strategic roadmap needs to address.
  • Access and Availability of Big Data Resources for Communication Research(ers)

    While a great number of popular online platforms and services generate enormous amounts of ‘big communication data’ (e.g., Social Network Sites), it is difficult for researchers to access and use this data for scientific purposes. Hence, the application of computational methods for communication studies is often hampered by the mere unavailability of data resources. In this themed session experts will offer an overview on the different possibilities to gain access to big data for research purposes. They will discuss with the participants the advantages and challenges of the different channels from the viewpoint of computational science (e.g., structure and quality of data), of data ownership (e.g., possibilities to access company-owned large data sets) and from a legal perspective (e.g., channel-related copyright and data protection issues).
  • Big Data and Research Ethics

    Big data requires scientists, educators as well as research granting agencies to develop an understanding of the ethical implications that go along with collecting, analyzing, and publishing large data sets. For instance, cornerstones of research ethics in human subject research are the anonymity and privacy of the participants and the data they provide, neither of which are easily granted in big data studies as numerous reported failed attempts show. In addition, the privacy of human subjects is challenged as a growing awareness for the need for open science exists (e.g., to make data sets publicly available). Also, how can the well-established principle of informed consent of research participants be applied in the age of CSS and big data? Finally, the corporate ownership of, for example, large social media datasets is of relevance to research ethics. Is it in the public’s interest that ethically versed and guided scientists use this corporate data rather than leaving the selection and interpretation of the collected data to companies and their corporate interests?
    Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
    Hans Bredow Institut
  • Arranging interdisciplinary collaboration

    Communication scientists may have concrete research questions or rather diffuse ideas for projects involving big data they cannot handle by themselves as they lack abilities to obtain the required data, manage the data, or analyze it. Cooperation with disciplines such as computer science, statistics, or linguistics for these projects is useful and often necessary. However, knowledge on initiating and conducting interdisciplinary collaboration research is sparse. This themed session is aimed at providing insights into the ways collaborative work can be initiated, problems that might occur and possible solutions thereof. Thus, this session helps participants to better understand the interests, motives, obligations, language and circumstances of computer scientists or individuals from other relevant disciplines (and vice versa) and enable them to initiate interdisciplinary projects.
    Prof. Sandra González-Bailón, Ph.D.
    University of Pennsylvania
    Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Nejdl
    University of Hannover
  • Combining Big Data and Conventional Methods

    The availability of new data sources and altered methodical toolsets reframe the scientific process of knowledge creation fundamentally as scientific workflows are changed and the entire social theory underlying it is affected. Hence, although computational methods and new data sources offer many advantages for social scientists (e.g., insights which were previously not possible), ensuring knowledge creation within the established framework of the field is an upcoming challenge. To avoid further fragmentation of knowledge creation and scientific disciplines due to methodological gaps, we will reflect on the integration of CSS with classic socio-scientific research methods as well as with theoretical foundations and paradigms in this session.
    Prof. Noshir S. Contractor, Ph.D.
    Northwestern University
  • Crafting the Strategic Roadmap for Computational Methods in Communication Science (Closing Plenary)

    The concluding part of the workshop will be dedicated to planning and idea generation for a strategic roadmap for developing ‘Computational Communication Science’ as an interdisciplinary field. For this purpose, the conclusion session will serve to summarize the learnings from focused discussion work on the topics of the preceding thematic sessions (and on additional issues that might come up during the event). The workshop organizers will collect suggestions and information from all sessions and participants and manage the dialogue over the chapters of the roadmap document. Moreover, a closing plenary will be held to discuss the achievements of the conference, future steps (including but not limited to the roadmap plan) and ideas.
    Prof. Dr. Jan Kleinnijenhuis
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Short facts


Thu, February 15th, 2018, 12 p.m.
to Fri, February 16th, 2018, 6 p.m


Scholars from all subfields of communication and neighboring social sciences: 50 young scholars (postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students) as well as 30 experts and leading scholars


Leibnizhaus – Historic Convention Center of Hanoverian Universities; City Centre of Hanover Address: Holzmarkt 4,
D-30159 Hannover