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Researchers share cutting-edge data science research

Round table discussions, skills sessions and research grant competitions were included in a full day of events.


"Data science is more than just methods and tools. Events like this are imperative to discuss the impact our algorithms have in our society"

Dr Jonathan Cardoso-Silva

As the institutional cornerstone of data science activity at LSE, the LSE Data Science Institute (DSI) was proud to welcome researchers from LSE and beyond to the inaugural Debugging (In)equality in Data Science workshop.

This workshop was developed in partnership with the LSE International Inequalities Institute (III) and the Alan Turing Institute Post Doctoral Enrichment Award. Over 50 participants attended this event to investigate the emancipatory potential of data science. 

The unique workshop combined the benefits of hackathons for collaboration with the value of academic conferences in networking and showcasing expertise. This was evident in a wide range of activities, including round table discussions, skills sessions and two research grant competitions.

Reflecting on the workshop, the winner of one of these grants Guodong Ju said: "It was wonderful to get insights from such a diverse mix of people." Guodong won the Debugging Data Science Research Presentation Grant. The award of £500.00 was awarded by a representative panel of senior academics in data science and will support the development of the research idea outlined in this presentation.

In line with the founding workshop principle to support the development of junior scholars and facilitate research, the event was free and fully catered. Workshop organiser Dr Siân Brooke explained this principle: "It's crucial to keep data science and educational events as open and beneficial to attendees as possible. For me, this means fostering collaboration with free lunches and supporting researchers with grants and expertise"

The workshop also featured keynote speakers, The first of these was Dr Stephanie Hare who opened the workshop with a talk titled 'Technology Is Not Neutral'. This reflected on the themes of technology ethics explored in her recently published book, including a comprehensive assessment of the potential of data science for social justice. Speaking at the event, workshop organiser Dr Marion Lieutaud echoed this, explaining that computational social scientists should recognise the position of strength that their expertise affords them and thus strive to not be "pigeon holed" or participate in projects with which they disagree. This view is informed by her research within the LSE III.

The second keynote speaker was Dr Anjali Mazumber, who remarked upon the interaction between technology and human rights. Anjali also closed the conference by thanking the attendees for their impressive participation: "seeing more people engaged in these issues is what gives hope to us working in the field".

In addition, the event also featured skills sessions delivered by the LSE Digital Skills Lab and Ties Boukema, Senior Data Analyst and Data Science Facilitator at Google. These sessions enabled participants to gain invaluable technical expertise and raised awareness of how to address the prejudices and biases in data sets and statistical models. Gaining these skills will assist Doctoral Students and Early Career Researchers on their journey to mobilise data science research for social good.