Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Research Profile

Prof William Housley 

    • 2013 – 15 
    • Understanding the Role of Social Media in the Aftermath of Youth Suicides Funded Department of Health £200k Co-investigator with Scourfield, Burnap, Williams and Edwards
    ESRC - Economic & Social Research Council
    • 2013-2014
    • Hate Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows
    • Funded by ESRC and Google (Google Data Analytics Social Science Research Call)
    • £124, 986
    • Principal-Investigator (with Williams, Edwards, Burnap, Rana, Procter, Voss and Knight)
    • Hate' Speech and Social Media: Understanding Users, Networks and Information Flows. ESRC-Google; 125K; April 2013-March 2014. The aim of the project is to develop a probabilistic model-based methodology and resultant computational tool to inform the social scientific interpretation of the formation and spread of hate speech and antagonistic content in social media networks, as well as its consequences and reactions to it. Project partners include Google.
    • (William Housley, Matthew Williams, Adam Edwards, Pete Burnap, Omer Rana, Alex Voss, Rob Procter and Vince Knight)


    ESRC NCRM Logos
    • 2013-2014
    • Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modelling
    • Funded by ESRC /NCRM Methodological Innovation
    • £195,000
    • Co-Investigator (with Williams, Edwards, Burnap, Rana, Procter, Voss and Knight)
    • Social Media and Prediction: Crime Sensing, Data Integration and Statistical Modelling. ESRC/NCRM; 195K; April 2013-September 2014. The key objective of this project is to develop the repurposing of user generated social media data for social research by developing innovative methodological and computational tools for establishing the link between online and offline behaviour. This will entail building statistical models based on social media data that forecast offline social phenomena.  Project partners include the Metropolitan Police Service and the Office for National Statistics.
    • (Matthew Williams, William Housley, Adam Edwards, Luke Sloan, Pete Burnap, Omer Rana, Alex Voss and Rob Procter)


    JISC Logo
    • 2013-13
    • Supporting Empirical Digital Social Research for the Social Sciences with a Virtual Research Environment
    • Funded by JISC
    • £55,519
    • Co Investigator (with Burnap, Williams, Rana, Edwards & Avis)
    • The Schools of Social Sciences (SOCSI) and Computer Science & Informatics (COMSCI) at Cardiff University have, over the past 18 months, established the SOCSI/COMSCI research network, an interdisciplinary research group with academic staff from both schools collaborating and sharing best practice in research and teaching. The SOCSI/COMSCI research network has already secured a funded ESRC Wales DTC 4 year postgraduate studentship, and an ESRC research grant to develop data harvesting and analysis methods and tools to detect tension and cohesion in online social networks. The ERSC grant has supported the network in developing the Cardiff Online Social Media Observatory (COSMOS), an information collection, archival and analysis engine for harvesting freely available socially significant data from sources such as social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, RSS feeds and Open Data (e.g. crime rates), and analyzing the harvested dataset to detect community tension and cohesion indicators. We propose to enhance COSMOS and engage the wider social scientific research community by extending it to provide an innovative virtual research environment (VRE). Researchers need to be able to use COSMOS data and pose hypothetical “what-if” questions, trying different combinations of social data analysis methods to confirm or refute an informal hypothesis, and then stress testing it further until a coherent and arguable position emerges.



    ESRC / Digital Social Research Logos
    • 2011-12
    • Digital Social Research Tools, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: a demonstration of the Cardiff Digital Research Platform
    • Funded by the ESRC
    • £79,000
    • Co-Investigator (with Matthew Williams, Adam Edwards, Malcolm Williams, Omer Rana and Nick Avis)
    • The SOCSI/COMSC Research Network was established in 2010 and is committed to promoting closer collaboration between computer and social scientists in the context of a key area of innovation in social research. Namely Web 2.0 technology, data representation, data harvesting, data analysis, visual analytics and informatics. These efforts will crystallise around the construction of a suite of digital social scientific methodological tools. The group is also concerned with the application and evaluation of existing analytic resources in relation to social scientific questions and problems as well as work concerned with the theorisation and conceptual framing of the emerging contours of digital society. Our empirical research programme is contextualised in terms of the ‘coming crisis of empirical sociology’ (Savage and Burrows, 2007), which is located in the increasing asymmetry between traditional social scientific methods and the power of transactional data generated through the internet. Our projects move beyond this perceived crisis through ground breaking, revolutionary, interdisciplinary engineering solutions for next generation social scientific research. Current projects include the ESRC funded Digital Social Research Tools, Tension Indicators and Safer Communities: a demonstration of the Cardiff Digital Research Platform (Matthew Williams, William Housley, Adam Edwards, Malcolm Williams, SOCSI and Omer Rana and Nick Avis COMSC). This work will assist in the practical facilitation of the proposed Cardiff Digital Research Platform (CDRP). With the explosion in social media and the interactive web (Web2.0) the potential for systematic data mining and mixed method analysis in relation to key social science concerns and questions is now possible; the CDRP will provide a means of operationalising a next generation ‘social computational methodological tool kit’. It will also provide a means of augmenting social science research training, building research capacity and shaping the conduct of social inquiry for the 21st century.



    Digital Social Research Logo
    • 2012
    • Requirements Analysis for Social Media Analysis Research Tools
    • Funded by the ESRC
    • £5,000
    • Co Investigator (with Burnap, Housley, Rana, Edwards, Avis & Proctor)
    • The explosion of ‘born-digital’ data generated as a by-product of the increasing adoption of social media means that the social sciences are facing a data deluge that promises to revolutionise research, but which the research community is presently not equipped to exploit. While the sheer volume of such data presents challenges for the social sciences, such data is now being routinely analysed by industry for its own purposes. Where, in the past, academic social science was an obligatory point of passage for those wanting to learn about social phenomena, there is now a danger that social scientific research is simply bypassed by powerful actors with access to vast datasets. COSMOS is dedicated to helping social researchers meet this challenge and to re-invigorate their interest and leadership in the development of research methods. The methodology we have developed combines techniques that make use of computer-based tools to explore and structure this new form of data.



    Cardiff University Logo
    • 2011
    • Automating Sentiment Analysis from Social Data: A Scoping Study CUROP
    • Funded by Cardiff University
    • The growth of the “Social Web” and the corresponding rise in available “emotional text” (through on-line social network platforms such as Facebook and blogging platforms such as BlogSpot) over the past few years has led to an increased interest in sentiment analysis. Research that makes use of such analysis primarily focuses on extraction of text fragments that contain a particular viewpoint – to subsequently support the development of recommendation systems based on data acquired from a large user community.  Aggregating the outcome of such an analysis with demographic information enables a better understanding of how a particular community “feels” at a given point in time. This therefore provides a very powerful, automated, research tool for social scientists, to better understand how a community responds to a particular geo-political event. This multi-disciplinary project will make use of the “We Feel Fine” Application Programming Interface (API) from Stanford University and better understand how such a tool could facilitate social sciences research. This project will link in with work on social network analysis (using data mining and graph analysis techniques) within COMSC. It will also build upon a strategic research direction between the two schools, in the establishment of a SOCSI-COMSC research group to investigate how automated social data/media analysis can facilitate social science research.



    British Academy Logo



    British Academy Logo



    University of Wales Logo