Data Science and Psychosocial Research


Upon completion of the course, students will have:

  • Knowledge of the principles underlying the application of data science to psychological research contexts;
  • Knowledge of the main research lines active in this field and the future development prospects;
  • Practical knowledge useful for independently carrying out content analysis of data extracted from social media.


Data science is an emerging field of research and practice that focuses on obtaining, processing, visualizing, analyzing, storing, and reusing large amounts of information. A related term, “big data”, has been used to refer to one of the important challenges faced by data scientists in many application contexts, the need to analyze large data sources.

The course is divided into two parts: the first will present the main themes related to the application of data science to psychological research contexts, the main research areas and the current lines of development in this field, and the ethical challenges associated with this type of approach.

The practical part will focus on the introduction to the theoretical bases and the application of different data analysis methods applied to data extracted from social media platforms. First, the characteristics of the data that can be extracted from these platforms will be illustrated, focusing in particular on textual, visual (images, videos) data, and online activity and engagement indicators. Students will also be provided with the cognitive tools necessary to independently apply text mining techniques for the analysis of texts shared by social media users using open-source software.


The achievement of the course objectives will be verified through a final written report, in which the student will be able to demonstrate their ability to critically re-elaborate the contents learned and/or to apply the practical skills acquired during the course. The final grade may be integrated by an optional oral exam.


  • Woo, S. E. E., Tay, L. E., & Proctor, R. W. (2020). Big data in psychological research. American Psychological Association. (Selected chapters, to be announced in class).
  • Lecture slides provided by the instructor