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SAGE Publishing Awards £25,000 in Grants for Innovative Software Tools for Social Research

May 11, 2020

New tool Knowsi empowers researchers to manage participant consent in line with data
protection regulations


SAGE Publishing has announced the winners of the 2020 SAGE Ocean Concept Grant, with £15,000 awarded to Knowsi, a portal for researchers and participants to manage their consent relationship in compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and PIPEDA regulations. Five further grants of £2,000 are awarded to early-stage software ideas that support the use of computational methods in social research. 

Consent is vital to performing ethical research in the social sciences, but the operational difficulty of tracking consent and the need to adhere to privacy regulations presents barriers for researchers. Knowsi, developed by Andrew Lovett-Barron, provides a privacy-first platform for researchers to collect, track and manage consent. Research participants get autonomy over their data, with visibility over their consents and researcher's data policies. 

The funding from SAGE will enable Knowsi to further tailor its features to the requirements of academic researchers and research ethics boards, to enable integration with survey and reporting tools, and to bring Knowsi to a wider audience, including academic librarians. 

Andrew Lovett-Barron, founder of Knowsi, commented: "We believe that great research is built on a foundation of trust, and Knowsi establishes that foundation on a user-friendly and GDPR-compliant portal - before, during and after a study. We are excited to work with SAGE to bring secure and simple consent practices to academic researchers and students. You focus on doing great research, and we'll make sure you and your participants are well set up." 

Five grants of £2,000 are awarded to software tools in the early stages of development, to enable concept testing and software development. The winners are: 

  • Exploratory Labelling Assistant (ELA) by Enrico Bertini: A tool for visually exploring, labelling and classifying large text corpora 
  • Oolong by Chung-hong Chan: A set of standards and benchmarks that will enable researchers to test the validity of their content analysis models 
  • Homicide Media Tracker by Nechama Brodie: A platform for tracking news media archives for the study of violence in society and the media's role in shaping public opinion
  • Measuring Experience in VR by Ruth Pijls and Brend Groen: A tool to help researchers measure participants' behavioral responses in virtual reality 
  • Touch Capture Pro by Stoo Sepp: An app for studying the social and cognitive effects of using smart phones and other touch-based devices

Katie Metzler, Associate Vice President of Product Innovation at SAGE Publishing, commented: “We launched the SAGE Ocean Concept Grants in 2018 to support the development of new tools and software for social science researchers. This year we had 146 entries from 45 countries, with applications for tools and apps to support data collection and analysis, text mining, online experiments, and more. I’m delighted to award Knowsi our large grant this year. Knowsi is a perfect example of an elegant application of technology to meet an important and widespread need for social researchers – collecting and managing participant consent in line with privacy regulations. The five winners of our early stage grants come from all over the world and represent the breadth of methods employed by social researchers, from text mining to experiments in VR. As the world’s leading research methods publisher, we’re committed to helping social researchers do high quality, high impact research, and all of this years’ winners are building innovative tools and services that we believe will help the social sciences to flourish.”

To find out more, read an interview with Andrew Lovett-Barron of Knowsi, and interviews with the £2,000 grant winners on the SAGE Ocean website. 


SAGE Ocean is an initiative from SAGE Publishing to support social scientists to gain the skills, tools and resources they need to work with big data and new technology. 

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE publishes more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies, and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. 

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