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About

Connecting Researchers. Facilitating Training. Sharing Resources.

The Oxford Disinformation & Extremism Lab (OxDEL) is an interdisciplinary hub of researchers, academics, graduate students, and practitioners working to understand and prevent online harms such as disinformation, misinformation, and extremism. Bringing together researchers from Oxford and beyond, the OxDEL hub helps to facilitate collaboration and connection for a diverse group of experts. Our mission to is produce leading academic research, policy recommendations, training for early-career researchers, conferences and workshops, as well as an inclusive and supportive community for all lab members. We make every effort to share and amplify the work of lab members with the wider community of researchers and practitioners working on online harms.

The OxDEL was started in response to the scattered nature of research on online harms in Oxford with researchers working in silos around the institutes, centres, libraries, and universities in Oxford. Researchers working on disinformation, misinformation, extremism, terrorism, algorithmic bias, machine learning, and generative AI benefit from inter-disciplinary sharing; however, the existing structures isolate researchers within their immediate communities and prevent collaboration. Researching extremism, disinformation, and online harms can also expose researcher to distressing content, especially when prolonged exposure is necessary for the research. Interaction with other researchers working on similar topics and who have developed best practices for dealing with distressing content can help mitigate the mental health challenges associated with research on online harms. The lack of support and community for early-career researchers and graduate students examining extremist content and disinformation are most acute as universities often fail to provide adequate methodological training for how to collect and analyze data on online harms. The OxDEL is our response to these issues and an attempt to build a more connected and better trained community of researchers.

 

While most lab members are based in Oxford or southern England, we welcome new members from outside the city and around the world who are working on online harms. We believe the best research comes from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We welcome applicants from all ethnic, religious, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds. Similarly we are methodologically neutral and welcome members from all disciplines, including computer science, political science, economics, sociology, and mathematics. Open to researchers from any university in Oxford and the surrounding area, the OxDEL is not affiliated with any university, company, or government. The OxDEL is a non-partisan and non-profit initiative with free membership.

Our Goals.

Mission

  • Provide a platform to publish and share new research on new threats, trends, and movements in the online disinformation and extremism landscape

  • Facilitate collaboration between Oxford researchers working on Disinformation, Extremism, and Online Harms

  • Host in-person and online talks with leading external researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers

  • Provide training and guidance on research safety and mental health risks to early-career researchers and graduate students

 

Work Streams

The Oxford Disinformation & Extremism Lab is organised around several key work streams. While additional work streams may be added as new members join and funding becomes available, the OxDEL will also continually review the purpose and achievements of the various work streams to ensure they should continue.

Academic Research

At the core of our work is research and policy recommendations. Drawing on their research at Oxford, our team produces cutting-edge research on online harms to support NGOs, policymakers, industry, and practitioners working to prevent and disrupt online disinformation and extremism.

The Oxford Disinformation & Extremism Lab will submit written and oral evidence to government and parliamentary commissions on disinformation, AI, extremism, online harms and other relevant inquiries. OxDEL members are asked to reference their position in the OxDEL when giving comment to media or publishing relevant op-eds, newspaper articles, and blog entries to expand the role of the OxDEL in bridging the gap between academics, policymakers, and practitioners. View our most recent research & articles here.

Training for Graduate Students & Early-Career Researchers

Part of our mission was inspired by the lack of methodological training available to early-career researchers and graduate students in Oxford and beyond. Research on disinformation and extremism presents unique legal and mental health risks to researchers that are rarely discussed or addressed. Frequent, long-term exposure to violent extremist content, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and hate speech carries significant risks for researchers, however many early-career researchers and graduate students do not receive adequate training from their institutions (free online resources are available from VoxPol here). We seek to counter this by providing graduate students and early-career researchers with best practices for operational security and methods to mitigate the mental health risks of studying violent extremism and disinformation. Future OxDEL workshops will cover the basics of:

  1. Collect, store, and analyze research data safely

  2. Protect their online accounts from doxing and harassment

  3. Mitigate the mental health risks associated with extremism & disinformation research

 

 

Talks & Workshops

The Oxford Disinformation & Extremism Lab invites speakers from London, Cambridge, St Andrews and elsewhere for free & accessible public talks. Talks and workshops will be hosted both in-person and online, with recordings from the speakers shared with lab members after the event for future training. The lab will provide opportunities for researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners from technology platforms to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other through workshops and talks.

If you or someone you know is interested in speaking to the OxDEL, please send us a message below.

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