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Disciplinary by nature – Interdisciplinary by design

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The IRIS Academic researchers are highly respected academics working across several disciplines including network and data science, anthropology, psychology, sociology, risk decision making, statistics, medical science and communications.

Together they will occupy an interdisciplinary research space to develop and evolve new and existing methodologies to better understand the nature and influence of misinformation and related infodemics and build global capacities to better protect and sustain vaccination and other global health security challenges, such as the climate crisis, in the face of an increasingly complex information and communication environment.

In the months ahead, the group will focus primarily on the digital media ecosystem which – in the age of information – is an operational field that is virtually boundless.

This short Q&A provides a more informal introduction to some of our researchers – Walter Quattrociocchi (Sapienza University of Rome), Elena Savoia and Rachael Piltch-Loeb (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), Andrea Baronchelli (City, University of London & The Alan Turing Institute), and Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden (Cambridge University) – and what motivates them to work together on this project.

Q1. What brought you to focus your research on mis/disinformation?

The curiosity concerning social dynamics on large scales. We started by mocking conspiracy theories with specific posts and we opened the pandora’s box.

@Walter

I was intrigued by the impact that misinformation and disinformation may have beyond public health, such as domestic security.

@Elena

I was struck by the ways in which information and communication seemed to be a challenge across all aspects of pandemic response- for policymakers, practitioners, and people, and continue to be interested in how this challenge has not abated but grown.

@Rachael

I’m interested in understanding the dynamics of socio-technical systems, and how technology affects our collective behaviour. With social networks allowing potentially everyone to shape the information landscape we inhabit, researching the production, spreading and consequences of misinformation has been natural for me. And I firmly believe it is extremely important to help make sense of our world.

@Andrea

I was working on my PhD about media and identity building in Ukraine when I heard about inoculation theory as a way to reduce susceptibility to misinformation. We had the idea to create a game to “inoculate” people, which became “Bad News”. Later on, we went on to work on all sorts of topics related to misinformation, such as vaccine hesitancy, extremism and political disinformation.

@Jon

My area of research is about the influence and persuasion process so a natural question to ask was whether we can help people identify and resist fake news and misinformation? The possibility of psychological “inoculation” was a driving force behind my recent research program.

@Sander

Q2. What does IRIS Academic offer in this field?

The most up to date scientific competencies in the field with a cross-disciplinary approach.

@Walter

I think it offers the opportunity to combine different types of research related to misinformation and different perspectives.

@Elena

It offers the opportunity for collaboration across teams that wouldn’t otherwise interact with each other and that can make for better research products and greater impact.

@Rachael

IRIS offers a unique combination of approaches to the study of misinformation, ranging from the individual to the societal level and including the design of intervention. Working in such a group is very stimulating and it has already started to give excellent results.

@Andrea

IRIS Academic is a group of really smart and interesting people working at the frontiers of misinformation research. Their combined expertise produces original, rigorous research with an immediate scientific and practical impact.

@Jon

I think IRIS offers a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between psychologists, political scientists, computer scientists, statisticians, policy-makers and a range of other actors who can jointly bring their expertise to measure, evaluate, and address the growing problem of misinformation in society.

@Sander

Read more about their research with IRIS Academic or keep up-to-date via their individual social links.

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Events

17 Symposium ALIMS 2022

21-22 October 2022
Belgrade, Serbia
Two of IRIS Academic’s founding partners, Prof Fabiana Zollo (Ca’ Foscari) and Dr Rachael Piltch-Loeb (Harvard), will be giving a lecture about their collaborative work on disinformation in health and vaccination at the 17th Symposium ALIMS 2022, Serbia.

Internet Festival 2022 #IF2022

6-9 October, 2022
Pisa, Italy (in person only)

Prof Walter Quattrociocchi will take part in what promises to be a lively panel discussion “Infodemic – The virus of disinformation” at Italy’s largest annual event dedicated to the exploration of the Internet and digital innovation.

Rumours, myths & misinformation

23 September, 2022
Singapore @ National University of Singapore (recording now available)

Prof Heidi Larson will present as the guest speaker to discuss how misinformation, myths and rumours proliferate and linger within society.