A new research center has launched at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) that that aims to provide a focal point for advancing data science and human language technologies, especially in the context of social science scholarship.

Announced at the School’s opening convocation earlier this month, the Center for Computational and Data Sciences (CCDS) is a research hub with a focus on using advanced computational approaches to assess important and practical research in the social sciences, working in data collection, retrieval, curation, analysis, and archiving.

The center provides a platform to build an infrastructure for large-scale data collection and analysis tools that are free to use, and that would be supported in the long-term by a thriving open source developer community, according to associate professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley, who serves as the center’s director.

As it has transitioned from its original formulation as the Center for Natural Language Processing (CNLP), the CCDS builds on the School’s historic strengths in human language technologies (such as natural language processing and machine learning) as well as its current emphasis on data science research. The center serves as a platform “to build an infrastructure for large-scale data collection and analysis tools that are free to use, and that would be supported in the long-term by a thriving open source developer community,” Dr. Stromer-Galley added.

Faculty and students are able to use the center’s resources to do hands-on work with real datasets for class projects, independent study, or other learning experiences. The center also aims to support companies that want to have their own cohorts of students working with their own datasets in a secure environment, the director explained.

The Center now has three goals:

  • To answer pressing problems in the social sciences by collecting large-scale behavioral, interactional, and other data and applying data science processes and human language technologies;
  • To provide needed expertise and systems to solve pressing social problems or needs;
  • To advance the methods of large-scale data by building a community of scholars within and beyond Syracuse University focused on large-scale data research methods.

“The CCDS continues the excellent scholarship the iSchool had been doing in human language technologies, and we are connecting that work with our strength in data science to build a premiere research center that helps solve pressing social problems,” said Stromer-Galley. “As the data researchers are able to collect and analyze grows, new methods and techniques are needed to handle that data, with the terrific benefit that we can better understand human behavior and society.” 

Current CCDS Projects:

  • The Field Data Repository will provide researchers within and beyond Syracuse University a place to archive qualitative data they collect, such as interview transcripts, field notes, photographs, and other materials. It will also be made available for researchers to analyze the stored materials, with the aim to further advance social science scholarship through the sharing of unique datasets.
  • The CORA (Citation Opinion Retrieval and Analysis) project aims to build an automated tool that can be used in bibliographic databases, such as libraries. It can extract statements in one article about another article. It can also categorize those statements on several dimensions including the subject matter, the tone, and the target of the statement.
  • The Political Campaign Social Media Study is an initiative to collect and analyze political campaign social media messaging including how that messaging and strategy plays out in the 2016 presidential campaign.