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Governance and Data Science Group

The extensive use of electronic communication channels and other devices has opened new possibilities for collecting data on human behavior. This information is sometimes openly accessible, but largely part of administrative registration systems that are not open to the broader public. The data provides challenges for storing, analysis and new uses. The FGGA research group on Governance and Data Science focuses on what we can do (or should not do) with these new possibilities.

Bernard Steunenberg
Faculty Governance and Global Affairs

Data enriched governance research

In our view, data-enriched governance research is a development in which our data processing methods will be extended with new tools in order to handle and analyze huge data sets (e.g. conversion of datasets that can then be analyzed with more conventional methods), and provide us with more information on human behavior in private and public settings.

Data enriched governance research is a two-way street. One the one hand, FGGA aims to introduce social science expertise to data science methodologies; on the other hand, social science researchers will use new data science skills where these are of added value to academic excellence. At the same time, the availability of data also comes with an obligation to make sure that new information is not used in an unethical way and can be used widely. Therefore, we look at how we can use data in a ‘responsible’ way. In addition, we also aim to make the data as well as our research findings ‘open’ to the broader public.

Responsible data use

The use of advanced data analytics provides many new opportunities for policymaking and governance. However, it is crucial to be aware of the potential downsides and negative effects. This requires that the analysis of data needs to be embedded in existing theories of social behavior. These theories provide a framework as to how we should interpret the data that is being processed and analyzed. Of course, theories can be wrong and in turn require continuous updating. Furthermore, the collection of data, its storage, the processing of raw data, to the retrieval and dissemination of insights and finally the disposal of unnecessary data requires adequate governance. These issues are, among others, at the heart of the Faculty’s International Data Responsibility Group.

Open data use

Working in this field means in our view that we should also make this data available to the broader public. We strive to work with the FAIR principle: Data created in our projects should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. In this way, our work can help to make data available to anyone who would like to inform him or herself. We therefore stimulate researchers to make data visible (through visualizations), open (through open access depositories in general formats that can be used by many) and findable (through providing clear links and instructions). This site may help in making a start in providing examples of these.

Scholars at FGGA have formed the Governance and Data Science Group to discuss and research current challenges of ‘big data’ for society and the public sector. This group combines the various disciplinary perspectives found within the Faculty, including scholars from the Institute of Public Administration, the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, and Leiden University College. In addition, the group works with researchers from other faculties, including LIACS (Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science), as part of a university-wide interest in multidisciplinary work on data science.

The Governance and Data Science Group consists of

  • Bernard Steunenberg (chair),
  • Anar Ahmadov,
  • Megan Anderson,
  • Jos Berens,
  • Sarah Giest,
  • Sanneke Kuipers,
  • Ulrich Mans,
  • Rik de Ruiter,
  • Jelmer Schalk,
  • Dimiter Toshkov,
  • Simon Vydra,
  • Brandon Zicha,
  • David Zetland.

If you have questions, or if you would like to contribute, please send us and email at datascience@fgga.leidenuniv.nl.

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