HSSH February Newsletter 2/2024

Recent news and upcoming events at HSSH – read more below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


Brown Bag Seminar every Tuesday at 12.15 – next session with Tuomo Hiippala on 5.3.


The Methodological Unit of HSSH hosts a weekly event, Brown Bag Seminar, to highlight novel methodological approaches in humanities and social sciences.

The seminars are organized as hybrid events. You’re warmly welcome to join us at the HSSH Seminar Room, Vuorikatu 3, room 524, 5th floor, or on Zoom.

Click here to add the Brown Bag Seminar events directly to your calendar (.ics file).

According to a researcher at the Methodological Unit, Matti Pohjonen, the idea of the meetings “is to introduce methodological innovations and cutting-edge research in various disciplines in an easily accessible manner and have an interdisciplinary discussion in an easy-going atmosphere over lunch.”

Every Tuesday at 12.15. In the next meeting on 5.3. Tuomo Hiippala will talk about working towards a foundation for empirical multimodality research. Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Read more about the event on our website!


Are you running an active or emerging research group at the City Centre Campus? Fill a survey to affiliate with HSSH


HSSH has launched a new Research Group Survey and invites all active research groups at the City Centre Campus to update their information, interests and needs.

“We hope research groups already affiliated with the HSSH network to update their information and at the same time, we invite new research groups to join in”, HSSH director Risto Kunelius says.

“Based on the feedback of our first-round survey in 2021 we have streamlined the questionnaire. It is now easier and quicker to fill out – and that we will be able use the information more effectively.”

“We know that nobody particularly loves the constant flood of questionnaires and e-forms. But for us at HSSH to be able to serve the campus research groups and develop ideas for support, an updated map of the field is really important”, Kunelius adds.

HSSH will use the collected information to create an accessible database on the research groups of the UH City Centre Campus. The database will include the topics, data, methods and contact people of research groups to provide information for networking and collaboration between groups.

The mission of the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) is to support multidisciplinary research networks, facilitate cooperation between research groups and advance methodological development at the City Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki (UH).

Fill the survey here.


The University of Helsinki Citizen Barometer: A new infrastructure for online surveys and experiments


The University of Helsinki Citizen Barometer is an online panel for Finnish citizens, which will function as an infrastructure for surveys and survey experimental designs for researchers at the University of Helsinki. Over the last year and a half Åsa von Schoultz, Professor of Political Science at the University of Helsinki, has together with her team in political science and HSSH worked to establish the panel.

The barometer will work as an infrastructure for behavioral research with surveys on people’s thoughts, opinions, and behaviors.

“As a political scientist I generally think of political attitudes, behaviors, and reactions to society, but it might be other things as well. It is up to the researchers to define what this infrastructure should be used for,” Åsa says.

Behind the scenes, there is an experienced group of people who can manage the survey research process. There is also a program, Qualtrics, for building the surveys.

“I'm working with a great group of people who can manage the whole process, setting up surveys, recruiting people, reaching out to them, sending links to our surveys and keeping track of those responding. We are also building the survey so it looks nice and makes sense for people answering the questions.”

The Citizen Barometer is a pre-recruited group of people who can be easily reached for survey research. The goal has been to collect a large panel of Finnish citizens representative of the general population. Background variables of the panelists are collected at time of recruitment which will reduce the number of questions in each survey and time required to respond to questions.

“So why do we need online panels? I would say that it's valuable because it provides us with a unique opportunity to follow people over time. We can study how attitudes and behaviors change over time. It allows us to see how things develop along the course of a lifetime,” Åsa says.

The panel was built in the winter of 2022–2023 with a first round of recruitments funded by HSSH. The main recruitment process was a random selection of 25 000 Finnish people aged 18–80 with a response rate of close to 14%.

“I would say this is a good response rate for an online panel.”

Another round of recruitments was done as an opt-in possibility via Voting Advice Applications from Helsingin Sanomat and YLE. There are approximately 2800 individuals signed up from the random recruitment and 4700 from the VAA opt-ins. These two groups are kept apart and can be used for different purposes.

The next steps for the Citizen Barometer are institutionalizing the management of the infrastructure, having an open call for researchers for survey questions and increasing the visibility of the panel.

Visit the Citizen Barometer website here: http://www.kansalaisbarometri.fi (the website is in Finnish and Swedish).


HSSH's Dayei Oh a visiting researcher at Loughborough University, UK


Dayei Oh is a postdoctoral researcher within HSSH's Datafication unit. Her research interests include the intersections of digital technologies, public spheres, and democratic discourse through computational social science methods.

Starting from early February, Dayei has commenced a visiting researcher position at Loughborough University, UK, for the spring term. She plans to return to HSSH after the 19th of June, 2024.

During her time at Loughborough University, Dayei is collaborating with Professor John Downey on the Cloud-C project, focusing on the analysis of climate discourse on Twitter. Additionally, she is partnering with Dr. Suzanne Elayan and Dr. Martin Sykora to analyse the social identity and biographies of hyperactive and non-hyperactive users within Twitter's political discourse.


The HSSH Datafication Research Programme Spring workshops: on Multimodal Analysis of Audiovisual Data


HSSH Methodological Unit and Datafication Research Programme are organizing City Centre Campus wide workshops on visual and audiovisual data. These thematic workshops are open for all and address the technological and philosophical challenges involved in the matter.  

Contemporary political communication has been transforming into more multimodal direction, which presents a fascinating challenge for researchers in Humanities and Social Sciences. There are established traditions in multimodal analysis, but the mainstreaming of the phenomenon and the (assumed) availability of the data has generated further needs to collaborate and coordinate research practices in this field. These workshops focus on social media data and the particular technical and philosophical issues related to them, but some of this knowledge may be transferrable to non-multimodal data and audio, visual and audiovisual. Further complications exist in terms of data storage and availability for the social media data also in the multimodal sense. 

This series of workshops seek to gather researchers across the City Centre Campus Faculties.


Friday 8 March at 14-16 (Fabianinkatu 24, 524, entrance through Vuorikatu inner court yard): pilots from the Finnish Presidential Elections and other elections  

Short presentation: Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, Emilia Palonen 

Please sign up for catering by Wednesday 6.3.: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/128573/lomake.html 

In this session we are going through some of the research on the presidential elections. Laaksonen and Pöyry’s team has been funded through HSSH. For Palonen’s research team the work carried out in January and February in Finland is a pilot for the European Parliamentary elections, and they also pilot the Portuguese elections. 

This session aims at discussing the challenges in the data process, scientific and technical solutions, as well as initial perceptions of the results of these studies.  

Friday 5 April at 14-16 (Fabianinkatu 24, 524, entrance through Vuorikatu inner court yard): theoretical and ethical general challenges in multimodal analysis 

Short presentation: Speakers TBC. 


16.4.2024 HSSH workshop on dyadic synchronization analysis 


In this workshop we will look at current methods for importing, visualizing and analyzing various dyadic data (such as EDA, accelometer, facial AU or human ratings), along with artefact correction and calculating different indices of synchrony.  We will demonstrate the usage of two contemporary open-source packages in Matlab and R environments, with their creators kindly joining us during the morning sessions.

Familiarity with the used languages and time series analysis is required to get the full experience, but participation is open for all researchers at University of Helsinki Centre Campus. This is a great opportunity to ask questions regarding analysis methods from top-level experts on the field and to get inspired working on your own data together with your local colleagues during the afternoon session.

Time: 09:00-16:00, 16th April 2024.

Hybrid participation: Fabianinkatu 24, Room 524 (access via Vuorikatu 3 courtyard, take elevator or stairs from Café Portaali to floor B5, room 524 is on the right after a glass door) and in Zoom (https://helsinki.zoom.us/j/66960147015?pwd=ZXBBYUlCc0h5VUpmRHk1anA4b0dIdz09)

Sign up at: https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/128402/lomakkeet.html

Read more about the workshop program here. 


Upcoming workshop on experience sampling methodology in collaboration with KU Leuven


In collaboration with KU Leuven university, HSSH organizes a workshop on experience sampling methodology (ESM). In the workshop, ESM researchers share their experiences of using the method, and developers of the m-path software (https://m-path.io/) give a detailed introduction to the software. The workshop will be hybrid and is open to all UH Centre Campus researchers. Workshop will be organized on March 20th (more information will follow on HSSH e-mail lists).


Media literacy for judges and policymakers – Aleksi Knuutila joins HSSH to work with Matti Pohjonen on the InfoLead project 


University researcher Aleksi Knuutila has joined HSSH’s university researcher Matti Pohjonen’s project Information and Media Literacy Programme for Judges and Policymakers (InfoLead). The project is done in collaboration with Oxford University and the University of Florence.

Over the last decade, there has been an acceleration of Media and Information Literacy programmes, many of which have targeted young people and vulnerable communities. However, judges and policymakers are a crucial constituency that has been overlooked nevertheless having a significant impact on making rules about social media and addressing threats and opportunities platforms offer.

“The project is unique in its focus on providing judges and policymakers with the necessary knowledge and media literacy to better understand debates around contemporary information disorder and challenges raised by generative AI. This is the group of people who are ultimately in the position to make decisions that actually matter on these topics,” Matti Pohjonen says.

“We are also lucky to collaborate with such a great team of experts from University of Oxford and University of Florence and complement their legal and policy perspectives with the methodological expertise available at HSSH and among our broader network of partners at the University of Helsinki."

Research from the project team has demonstrated that there are 1) misunderstandings about the impacts of digital tools, including whether they will have the desired effect (e.g. does fact-check to address misinformation impede the spread of offline harms?); 2) a lack of awareness and understanding of alternative tools for addressing the genuine challenges of content moderation failures or manipulation of social media; 3) misunderstanding about the processes and guidelines of how to engage more effectively with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and social media platforms to address issues information disorder; and 4) a lack of capacity, technical expertise, and experience with social media and AI works, on the part of policymakers and judges to respond to issues such as disinformation.

“As part of this project, we will explore using games as tools for improving literacy and conducting research. This will open up new perspectives on misinformation and media manipulation,” Aleksi Knuutila says.

The project’s goal is to equip end users, namely judges and policymakers, with the necessary information literacy to ensure that when they develop or implement policies, or make and interpret laws, relating to information disorder, they do so with high levels of information literacy and are able to craft responses that are suitable, necessary, and reasonable.


Meetup 4.3. Understudied Tubes: Disinformation and alternative publics on YouTube


Time: Monday 4.3. 14-16

Place: University of Helsinki, HSSH seminar room (access via Vuorikatu 3 courtyard, take the elevator or stairs from Café Portaali to floor 5B, room 524 is on the right after a glass door) or online via zoom.

Zoom link: https://uwasa.zoom.us/j/61135585933?pwd=cnNtc0liZmQwTFdUeDVrL1ZDQkZaZz09

Password: 1044

This meetup is a joint effort by Rajapinta, HSSH & HEPP.


Viljami Vaarala, University of Helsinki, “Studying the emerging independent podcasting sphere on Youtube”

Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, University of Helsinki, “Finnish Extremism on YouTube - and why the platform needs more attention”

Aleksi Knuutila, University of Helsinki, “APIs, archives, scraping: How to study elections and misinformation on YouTube”

Nuppu Pelevina, University of Helsinki, & University of Vaasa, “Competing narratives in Brazilian social media influencers’ videos about the war in Ukraine”



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