Summer School REDA: Research Ethics in the Digital Age

September 6-12, 2015, Dresden, Germany

Ethics for the Social Sciences and Humanities in Times of Mediatization and Digitization

Topic and Purpose of the Summer School

Digitization and mediatization are core processes of ongoing social change. In the course of mediatization, communication increasingly manifests itself via mass media or telecommunications. Thus, more and more information becomes accessible in the form of data. Digitization converts data into universal digital formats which eases computer processing, leads to the convergence of different media, and thus further fosters mediatization.
Both processes alter social behavior and cultural traditions, thereby generating new objects of study and new research questions for the social sciences and humanities. Further, mediatization and digitization increase the data volume and accessibility of (quantitative) research and proliferate methodological opportunities for scientific analyses.


In consequence, they profoundly affect research practices in multiple ways, e.g.:

  • researchers increasingly apply quantitative and automated methods,
  • researchers are spoilt for choice by a plethora of rather new and often sparsely ex-plored methods for collecting and analyzing behavioral data,
  • the relevance of computer science and mathematics grows for the social sciences and humanities and vice versa,
  • research is more prone to invade the privacy of individuals who are the subject of research,
  • the line between scientific research and market research tends to blur,
  • scientific research seems disadvantaged.

While consequences concerning the subjects, objects, and addressees of research in the social sciences and humanities have rarely been reflected upon, this reflection will lie at the center of the Summer School REDA. Digitization not only provides new data and algorithms, but also a changing research practice in which new norms in scientific behavior need to be developed and old norms need to be scrutinized. Moreover, the ethical perspective points towards a prospective impact assessment on research practice.

Research ethics therefore need to reflect on implicit normative orientations considering all actors involved as well as discussing new digital areas of research, justification, testing, sharing and communication.
The transdisciplinary discussion of research ethics in the social science and humanities in times of digitization and mediatization will be the main focus of this summer school. Questions emerging in this context will be approached from different perspectives:

  • research ethics in general and from an interdisciplinary perspective,
  • the researcher and his/her norms and ethical implications on research practices,
  • the individual and the society: users’ privacy and researchers’ responsibility to raise awareness of privacy issues.

The aim of the summer school is to discuss these dimensions in their interdisciplinary and international diversity. The summer school is supposed to bring together researchers who systematically illuminate research ethics in the above-mentioned sense.

The summer school is designed for international researchers who are in an early stage of their academic career, such as PhD students, post-docs, and junior faculty members. The summer school is open to researchers from all disciplines who tackle the above mentioned issues. We encourage submissions from the social sciences and the humanities, especially from the fields of

  • Communication
  • Linguistics
  • Law
  • Sociology
  • Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Education
  • Informatics
  • Theology

For the call for participants, please see

Call for papers

Deadline: June 8, 2015

Posted: May 26, 2015