The ESRC has identified a number of potential questions for future work that the scoping review will be cognisant of, add to, develop and validate. The team has separated these into seven major foci for the

Citizenship and politics
  • How digital technology impacts on our autonomy, agency and privacy – illustrated by the paradox of emancipation and control.
  • Whether and how our understanding of citizenship is evolving in the digital age – for example, whether technology helps or hinders us in participating at individual and community levels.
Communities and identities
  • How we define and authenticate ourselves in a digital age.
  • What new forms of communities and work emerge as a result of digital technologies – for example, new forms of coordination including large-scale and remote collaboration.
Communication and relationships
  • How our relationships are being shaped and sustained in and between various domains, including family and work.
Health and wellbeing
  • Whether technology makes us healthier, better educated and more productive.
Economy and sustainability
  • How we can construct the digital to be open to all, sustainable and secure.
Data and representation
  • How we live with and trust the algorithms and data analysis used to shape key features of our lives.
Governance and security
  • What the challenges of ethics, trust and consent are in the digital age.
  • How we define responsibility and accountability in the digital age.


For each of these domains, the project will be undertaking:

  • A Delphi panel review of international experts’ opinions on the state of the art in digital-facing social research.
  • A ‘concept mapping’ of identified literature using digital humanities tools
  • A systematic review of a sample of the literature
  • Engagement events with non-academic stakeholders from the public and private sectors
  • An assessment of the theory and methods applied in each domain

The project will also conduct a feedback questionnaire on the findings, run workshops throughout, and hold sessions at a number of international conferences.  The project will conclude with a symposium to feed back the findings and to discuss the future of digital research in the social sciences.


The review is set to conclude in March 2017, with the publication of the project team’s final report to be followed shortly after by a final networking event, where stakeholders from academia and industry will be given an opportunity to review and respond to the key findings from the review.

Once published, the final report from the review team will be available to download from this website.