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Me and my big data: developing citizens’ data literacy

Researchers: Professor Simeon Yates | Dr Eleanor Lockley ...

By Nuffield Foundation

Project overview

This project investigates citizens’ understanding of how the data they share via digital platforms are used by industry, government and the third sector, and how this varies among different demographic groups in the population. The findings will inform the development of a suite of training and support materials, as well as recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders on how to improve citizens’ data literacy.

The project builds on the team’s ESRC-funded review of the evidence on how digital technology affects our lives and interacts with social change, entitled Ways of Being in a Digital Age. For this project, they are reviewing the academic and policy literature on data literacy, as well as information from a range of survey datasets, to inform the development of a new nationally representative survey. They aim to carry out face-to-face interviews with 1,800 individuals.

The Good Things Foundation, a charity that helps people improve their lives through digital technologies, will work with the project team to run a series of citizen workshops. Participants will be selected based on the key demographic differences in data literacy identified in the first stage of the project. Discussions will focus on exploration of participants’ data literacy, as well as any concerns they have about how their data is used.

The project complements the work of the Ada Lovelace Institute, which we founded in 2018.


  • Professor Simeon Yates
    University of Liverpool
  • Dr Eleanor Lockley
    Sheffield Hallam University
  • Professor Bridgette Wessels
    University of Glasgow

  • Catherine Dennison
    Programme Head, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.