ESRC Digital Good Network

How we work

Equity, diversity and inclusion

The Digital Good Network is driven by an understanding that the way people as individuals, communities or societies experience digital technologies is determined by who they are. Put simply, different people experience the same technologies differently. We must, therefore, be inclusive and broad both in terms of how and what we are researching, and who is undertaking digital society research. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are therefore at the heart of the Digital Good Network’s work.

The Digital Good Network is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which has its own EDI-related resources which we encourage those involved with the network to engage with:

In this statement, we lay out the network’s EDI-related goals, the expectations we have of network participants, and details of whose responsibility within the network it is to ensure that EDI is being considered in all our work.

Our EDI-related goals

We see equity as crucial to envisioning good relationships with and through digital technologies. This is why equity is one of the three core societal challenges we seek to address through our research.

In consideration of how to enact a focus on equity throughout our work, our goals include:

  • Embedding (in)equity as a central focus of digital society research.
  • Ensuring that some of the Digital Good Network’s research directly explores how equity and the digital good relate.
  • Better representation from under-represented groups in the digital society research community, meaning more inclusive conversations and more widely beneficial research outcomes.
  • Contributing to ongoing conversations about EDI and research higher education cultures, (e.g. through reports, engagement with our funder the ESRC, consulting EDI experts and our College of Experts).

We aim, where possible, to be open about the extent to which we are achieving this, for example by reporting EDI data. We will also explore and keep under review effective ways of making our work in this area visible and accountable, beyond data reporting.

Our EDI Expectations

The Digital Good Network is involved in a range of activities, including empirical research and dissemination work, funding decision-making and redistribution of public funding.

As a network, we both comprise and will come into contact with a range of people and organisations with diverse interests, goals and capacities. Accordingly, we have some clear principles in place about how we conduct ourselves in relation to EDI. We call these our EDI Expectations.

  • Everybody in the network brings valuable experiential knowledge with them, and has important insights to be heard. Our activities will balance seeking out appropriate opportunities to hear everybody’s point of view with being respectful of difference and protected characteristics.
  • Our Conflicts of Interests statement will be followed for all funding-related decision-making associated with the Digital Good Research Fund. The goals of our Conflicts of Interest statement are a) both to cultivate an environment in which people are open about saying where those potential conflicts are and b) to limit bias to ensure every individual has the opportunity of funding success.
  • All applicants to the network’s Digital Good Research Fund should expect a fair and transparent application process. We will: make our decision-making criteria freely available to all applicants; support all applicants through a series of pre-funding call events to workshop ideas and network with other applicants; and provide feedback to all applicants to the Digital Good Research Fund.
  • All successful applicants to the Digital Good Research Fund will contribute back to the network to cultivate its growth as an equitable, diverse, and inclusive research environment. In the spirit of equity, successful applicants are not only joining the Digital Good Network, but are also helping to build it, so they are expected to make a contribution that enables network building.
  • Digital Good Network events should meet, and ideally exceed, baseline accessibility and inclusion criteria for events, for example by being physically accessible and ensuring a diverse roster of speakers.

Responsibilities for EDI

The Digital Good Network’s management team shares mutual responsibility for fostering an open environment for discussion about EDI-related matters. We recognise the way research environments operate can open up or close down dialogue, and that, as leaders of this network, we carry a responsibility to ensure that it is an inclusive and open research environment.

The network also has some central leadership elements that focus specifically on EDI-related matters:

  • Dr Ros Williams, our Equity Challenge Lead champions the equity challenge area, ensuring it is represented in all network activities, and that our EDI-related goals, stated above, are kept in mind throughout all activities.
  • College of Experts will advise the network, including on EDI issues. EDI will be a standing item on all College of Experts meeting agendas
  • Ruth Lauener, the Network Manager, oversees collection and reporting of data.


Sustainability is a guiding principle for the work of the Digital Good Network, both as a goal for good digital societies and an important focus for our research. Our sustainability statement encourages network participants to think about their actions in research and impact activities and how their choices might help support attaining the UK’s goal of achieving Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The Management Team will also make choices in their work to help meet this goal and the additional UKRI sustainability goals by 2040 of Net Zero, positive for the environment and acting for change by setting standards in our field.

Following the model of UK Research and Innovation’s Sustainability Strategy, we outline here our sustainability considerations for the Digital Good Network Management Team and those involved in the work of network.

Guiding Principles

We understand that there are many many pathways to sustainable outcomes and many reasons why researchers need to balance concerns and choices. Our sustainability statement is intended as a guide for the consideration of choices with a better impact on the environment, and we strive to follow these and encourage others to do so whenever feasible.

Our goal with this sustainability statement is to suggest ways that researchers can start to consider sustainability goals in their decision making and planning, which we see as the start of ensuring good and sustainable digital societies.

The UKRI’s Sustainability Strategy outlines the guiding principles for their approach to sustainability as collaboration, research excellence, innovation, how work is organised, networking and research, and integrity. We follow those principles in considering our strategy as outlined below for the Digital Good Network management team and participants.

Sustainability Considerations for the Digital Good Network Management Team

We aim to embed environmental sustainability into the objectives and activities of our project, including how we organise our meetings, events and research.

We will use sustainability goals as one of the guiding considerations for our activities and research, aiming to experiment with innovative technologies and practices that support Net Zero goals.

We will showcase sustainability in our communications about our work.

We will work toward sustainable procurement for Digital Good Network activities, including

meetings and travel choices, catering, events and other such decisions, aiming to minimise the environmental impact of activities (eg using venues that have good public transport links and sustainability policies; digital production and distribution of materials; sustainable procurement); and supporting forward-looking sustainability strategies.

We will educate other researchers and encourage them to consider sustainability in their research and practice, aiming to lead in the UK and beyond on building support for sustainability practices in research.

Sustainability Considerations for Digital Good Network Participants

We encourage researchers to consider sustainability as part of the design of their projects and during the Digital Good Research Fund Application Process. This could include, for example, asking people to consider environmental impact, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources when choosing digital technologies and digital services.

We encourage Digital Good Network Research Fund applicants and other Digital Good Network members to familiarise themselves with their own institutions’ sustainability strategies and work within their institutions to support solutions that help research and researchers meet NetZero goals by 2050. This could include advocating for a fund for carbon offsets for research travel, support for sustainable meeting and procurement options, or help with sustainable travel options.

Responsibilities for sustainability

  • Prof Gina Neff is Sustainability Challenge Leader. She champions the sustainability challenge area, ensuring it is represented in all DGN activities.
  • Ruth Lauener, the Network Manager, oversees the network’s commitment to sustainability in our work.

For further information: UKRI Sustainability Strategy


The Digital Good Network is an interdisciplinary, social science-led research programme centred on the question of what a good digital society should look like and how it can be achieved. We bring social science together with science, technology, engineering and mathematics and arts and humanities, putting ‘the digital good’ into interdisciplinary dialogue, surfacing and bridging differences.

The Digital Good Network is:

  • Multidisciplinary, bringing together diverse researchers from different disciplines
  • Interdisciplinary, integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines
  • Transdisciplinary, seeking to create a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond disciplinary perspectives

We require those involved in the network to commit to these principles.

We will host events on interdisciplinary and postdisciplinary working. We will also run masterclasses and workshops on a range of topics that ensure that the next generation of digital society researchers develop skills for working both within and across disciplines.

Interdisciplinary opportunities with the Digital Good Network

The Digital Good Research Fund will fund and support interdisciplinary research projects, internships for postgraduate researchers and fellowships:

  1. Research Projects supported by the Digital Good Research Fund: Small-scale, pilot and scoping projects that respond to annual, thematic calls and contribute to the network. We ask that applications involve interdisciplinary teams. We will run one-day, hybrid, pre-deadline sandpits following call launches and in advance of deadlines, to support potential applicants in forming interdisciplinary teams, connecting with stakeholders and refining their research ideas.
  2. Internships for PhD students: Internship schemes that give postgraduate research students experience of working with interdisciplinary teams for short periods of time (approximately three months).
  3. Fellowships: Programmes of activity which engage applicants in activities in environments outside their usual disciplines or sectors. We will run sandpits to support Internship and Fellowship applications.


We will establish an interdisciplinary Advisory Board of directors of related UK Research and Innovation-funded initiatives as a subgroup of our College of Experts. This Advisory Board will meet twice per year, to ensure that interdisciplinary dialogue across initiatives informs all of our activities, so they are not only complementary to, but actively feed into research across initiatives.

We will monitor and evaluate our activity against our objectives, including with regard to interdisciplinarity.

Responsibilities for interdisciplinarity

  • Prof Helen Kennedy is Interdisciplinarity Coordinator
  • Dr Ros Williams is Capacity Building Coordinator, responsible for planning interdisciplinary development opportunities.
  • College of Experts will advise the network, including on interdisciplinarity. A smaller Advisory Board, a subgroup of our College of Experts, will focus specifically on interdisciplinarity.


The Digital Good Network is a large international group of researchers and stakeholders based in various institutions across the United Kingdom and overseas. We are committed to supporting empirical and applied research examining various dimensions of the digital good. Rather than applying top-down a singular or static notion of the digital good, we promote comparative, critical, and collaborative research and interventions that understand and apply normative values in technological design and practice across diverse social and cultural contexts.

Internationalisation is key in understanding the depth and breadth in which we should understand diverse and often-conflictual notions of the good in relation to digital environments. Following the UK Research and Innovation International Strategic Framework, we acknowledge that complex problems about digital society do not have a single answer. Research synergies and international partnerships are crucial to promote research innovation and excellence.

Our internationalisation strategy also aims to complement our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion (link). We want to address inequities in knowledge production, and thus want to amplify less-heard voices and perspectives including from senior and junior researchers in the global South and low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).

Opportunities for international scholars to participate in the Digital Good Network

The Digital Good Research Fund will support international scholars and partners via our Fellowship Scheme and the Digital Good Research Fund.

  1. Fellowships: With 15 fellowships available, we want to ensure that diverse regional areas are represented in the research focus and backgrounds of our fellows. We acknowledge that diverse international perspectives from both senior and junior scholars are important in order to problematise universal notions of the digital good and trace complex flows of values, policies, and practices across various regions in the world. We want Digital Good Network Fellows to lead high-impact research, advocacy, and capacity-building, linking UK institutions with international centers of research excellence in areas of communication technology and policy.
  2. Research Projects supported by the Digital Good Research Fund: The Management Tem will coordinate international linkages between UK lead institutions and potential partners outside the UK. We will support non-UK partners to identify potential collaborators to undertake interdisciplinary and comparative projects that respond to our annual, thematic calls for the Digital Good Research Fund. Our one-day, hybrid, pre-deadline sandpits following call launches and in advance of deadlines, will conduct matchmaking activities between UK- and international scholars. Our Digital Good Research Fund calls will encourage applicants to express connection of their work with broader international trends in scholarship.


Key members of the College of Experts will act as global connectors, linking the network to stakeholders and carrying out advocacy on the network’s behalf. International experts will advise on internationalisation strategies to make sure research has global relevance and impact.

Responsibilities for Internationalisation

  • Dr Jonathan Corpus Ong is Internationalisation Coordinator, responsible for managing global outreach activities to ensure involvement of diverse international scholars, community leaders and policy experts in the Digital Good Network. The International Coordinator, together with the Management Team, will be responsible for proactive recruitment, mentoring, and support of international scholars interested in our activities. We will publicise our activities and funding opportunities in international venues and networks, with the aim of targeting diverse professional associations, regional groups, and universities relevant to early career researchers, policy experts, and tech experts working on projects advocacies related to the digital good.
  • College of Experts will advise the network and act as global connectors, linking the network to stakeholders and carrying out advocacy on our behalf. International experts will advise on internationalisation strategies to make sure research has global relevance and impact.

Managing conflicts of interest

The Digital Good Network is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which has existing arrangements in place to prevent, counter and handle potential conflicts of interest. We follow UKRI guidance on managing conflicts of interest. This statement is intended to help those working with us to locate relevant UKRI guidance, and to clarify where there is any ambiguity about conflicts of interest specifically in relation to the Digital Good Research Fund.

Managing conflicts of interest in our governance

UKRI defines conflict of interests “as a set of circumstances that create a risk that an individual’s ability to apply judgement or act in one role is, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest.”

The UKRI guidance on conflicts of interest, which we follow, requires all Digital Good Network participants to acknowledge any financial conflicts of interest that might arise as part of their network-related work. All participants must make themselves familiar with the UKRI policy, and raise any issues with the Management Team if conflicts of interest become apparent. We will also raise any concerns about conflicts of interest with UKRI where it is appropriate or necessary to do so.

Managing conflicts of interest in reviewing

We will manage and mitigate conflicts of interest in relation to our Digital Good Research Fund, fellowships and internships, through which we are responsible for redistributing UKRI funds through competitive processes.

The management team will follow UKRI’s specific guidance for reviewers. All those engaged in reviewing applications to the network are expected to read this document and adhere to UKRI guidance.

Like UKRI, we aim to identify evident conflicts of interest ahead of inviting reviewers to comment on applications, for example if any of the named applicants is from the same institution as the reviewer. However, not all conflicts are immediately evident. If a reviewer considers that they may have a conflict of interest, they must inform the Digital Good Network Manager (LINK) before proceeding with the review. Reviewers should refer to the list of potential conflict of interest relationships/situations in the UKRI guidance, but if a reviewer is in any doubt about whether there is a conflict, they should raise it with the Digital Good Network Manager , so it can be discussed and clarified.

Where there is a conflict of interest for an individual application (examples of which are offered in the UKRI guidance for reviewers), the reviewer should recuse themselves from reviewing the application and may not engage in any decision-making relating to that individual application.

We will require reviewers to complete a conflict of interest statement for all reviews they undertake.

Considering EDI in our allocation of funding

Our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy spells out some of the driving commitments of our work. One of our key aims is to foster a more societally representative digital society research community, and our funding opportunities aim to make this possible. This means that potential reviewers, including the management team and College of Experts, will be trying to actively encourage applications to the network’s funding opportunities from underrepresented groups. Reviewers who have engaged with an applicant or application before its submission would be recused from reviewing that application. A designated point of contact for applicants to discuss their applications will be named for each round to help us manage such engagements.

Responsibilities for conflicts of interest policy

  • Dr Ros Williams is Associate Director responsible for conflicts of interest policy and equity challenge lead.
  • Ruth Lauener, the Network Manager, oversees collection and reporting of data.

Research data

At the Digital Good Network, we seek to ensure that our values are maintained in the use of data for our research and network development activities.

The Digital Good Network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The UKRI common principles on research data and the ESRC research data policy guide all Digital Good Network activities that produce or use research data. The Digital Good Network Research Data Management statement should help you locate the relevant ESRC and URKI guidance and clarify additional network-specific responsibilities.

We require that all research funded through the Digital Good Network follows both the ESRC research data policy and the UKRI common principles on research data.

Everyone awarded funds through the Digital Good Network is required to read the ESRC/UKRI research policy documents. People applying to the Digital Good Research Fund are asked to provide a brief data management statement. People awarded funding need to prepare a data management plan in line with ESRC and UKRI policies and this statement. Projects’ data management plans must be accepted by the Digital Good Network before research can begin.

Archiving data

We also require those who receive Digital Good Network funding to consider making their research data open, as outlined in UKRI’s Making your research data open statement. As the UKRI statement notes, there may be confidentiality or other reasons for restricting access to data, but the expectation is that data produced on Digital Good Network research is made as open as possible without presenting a risk to the researchers, participants, or the research process itself. We encourage participants to contact Dr Scott A. Hale, Emerging Methodologies Coordinator for the Digital Good Network, if they are unsure about what data can be released. Ethics committees at many universities will also be able to provide guidance. Oxford’s Best Practice Guides are an example. The Best Practice Guide for Internet-mediated research is particularly relevant for data collected from the Internet.

We require that all datasets created through funded projects include the phrase “Digital Good Network” within the dataset description and, where possible, as a tag on any data repository that supports tagging. This is designed to increase the discoverability of datasets related to the Digital Good Network.

There are a number of different ways of archiving data, and these vary by discipline. ReShare is the UK Data Service's online data repository, where researchers can archive, publish and share research data. ESRC requires grant holders to submit the data from their research grants to ReShare. There may be certain disciplinary norms to use another repository such as OSF | Center For Open Science or reasons to use an international platform such as Zenodo. Your data management plan should clarify where you intend to deposit data.

Proper recognition and credit

Data may be embargoed for a short length of time to allow for the creators of the dataset to complete their own analysis and receive appropriate recognition through scholarly publication. This is in line with Principle 5 of the ESRC research data policy ‘Where a delay in dissemination of deposited data is needed to allow grant holders to publish their research findings, an embargo period can be applied to the data’.

Encouraging re-use of data

The Digital Good Network encourages researchers creating datasets to embrace the FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability). The reuse of data allows for prior research to be extended, data to be compared across cases, and avoids duplicative effort.

To increase the discoverability and re-use of data, we encourage all Principal Investigators or their designee for projects funded by the network to subscribe to the Digital Good Network datasets mailing list, where all new datasets on the topic of the digital good will be announced.

PIs on Digital Good Network-funded projects should fill out a short form (link coming soon) whenever new data is being collected for a network-funded project. No formal approval is required from the Management Team for new data collection, but the requirement to inform the network will help identify duplicate data collection and alert project leads to potential duplication and opportunity for collaboration.

Responsibilities for Digital Good Network approaches to research data management

  • Dr Scott Hale, Emerging Methodologies Coordinator, responsible for building awareness of and capacity to use new methods (especially computational) and sources of data for research within and beyond the network.
  • Ruth Lauener, Digital Good Network Manager

Privacy policy

The Digital Good Network is committed to respecting your privacy. This notice explains how we use any personal information we collect about you and your rights in relation to it. Please read it carefully.

Our Contact Details

The type of personal information we collect

  • For the purposes of adding you to our mailing list we will collect your name, email address and organisation.
  • For our application processes, we will collect your name, email address, organisation and organisation’s address.
  • When you sign up to an event through Eventbrite we will collect your name and email address.
  • For our EDI monitoring form, we will request information about your profession, your nationality, where you were born, your first language, whether or not you have a disability, your ethnic group and your gender. Please note - providing this information is optional.

How we get the personal information and why we have it

General personal information:

You provide us with this information when you apply for our opportunities, agree to join our mailing list or sign up for an event. We use the information that you have given us in order to contact you about our opportunities or send you email newsletters about the Digital Good Network’s activities (if you have opted into our mailing list).

For our mailing list, we use a third party provider, Mailchimp, to manage our email contacts. We may also send emails through the Mailchimp platform and gather statistics around email opening and clicks to help us monitor and improve our e-newsletter. For more information, please see Mailchimp’s Privacy Policy. We also use Eventbrite to market our events. Read the Eventbrite Privacy Policy.

The Digital Good Network will not share your personal data with third parties (without your explicit agreement).

Special Category Data:

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion monitoring data will be collected through our EDI monitoring form which we will ask you to fill out when applying for, or participating in, some of our activities. Any EDI data provided will be anonymised, aggregated and used to determine action needed to support under-represented groups in future calls. It will also be used to evaluate the impact of any actions undertaken and monitor progress in relation to our aim to expand representation from currently underrepresented groups in digital society research.

Lawful Basis

Under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the lawful basis we rely on for processing this information is:

  • Your consent. You are able to remove your consent at any time. You can do this by emailing us on to unsubscribe from our newsletters.
  • We will also ask for your explicit consent to process special category data on our EDI monitoring forms. You are able to remove your consent at any time. You can do this by emailing us on info[at]

How we store your personal information

General personal information:

This is stored in a secure University of Sheffield Google account.

We will keep your contact details for the duration of the Digital Good Network project (5 years), plus one year for any follow-up activities. 

Special Category Data:

This is stored in a secure University of Sheffield Google account accessible only by the Network Manager.

Raw data will be kept only until the relevant call results have been announced (if applicable) and the data has been anonymised and aggregated. After this point the raw data will be deleted.

Your data protection rights

Under data protection law, you have rights including:

  • Your right of access - You have the right to ask us for copies of your personal information.
  • Your right to rectification - You have the right to ask us to rectify personal information you think is inaccurate. You also have the right to ask us to complete information you think is incomplete.
  • Your right to erasure - You have the right to ask us to erase your personal information in certain circumstances.
  • Your right to restriction of processing - You have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances.
  • Your right to object to processing - You have the right to object to the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances.
  • Your right to data portability - You have the right to ask that we transfer the personal information you gave us to another organisation, or to you, in certain circumstances.

You are not required to pay any charge for exercising your rights. If you make a request, we have one month to respond to you.

Please contact us at info[at] if you wish to make a request. 

How to complain

If you have any concerns about our use of your personal information, you can make a complaint to Luke Thompson - Head of Data Protection at the University of Sheffield: luke.thompson[at]

You can also complain to the ICO if you are unhappy with how we have used your data.
The ICO’s address:

  • Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Wycliffe House
  • Water Lane
  • Wilmslow
  • Cheshire
  • SK9 5AF

Helpline number: 0303 123 1113
ICO website:

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. This privacy notice was last updated in March 2023.