Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Advocating for Platform Data Access: Challenges and Opportunities for Academics Seeking Policy Change

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Abstract:  Independent researchers’ access to digital platform data is critical for our understanding of the online world; yet recent reflections have shown that data are not always readily available (Asbjørn Møller & Bechmann, 2019; Bruns, 2018; Tromble, 2021). In the face of platform power to determine data accessibility, academics can often feel powerless, but opportunities and openings can emerge for scholars to shape practice. In this article, we examine the potential for academics to engage with non-academic audiences in debates around increased data access. Adopting an autoethnographic approach, we draw on our personal experiences working with policymakers and digital platforms to offer advice for academics seeking to shape debates and advocate for change. Presenting vignettes that detail our experiences and drawing on existing scholarship on how to engage with non-academic audiences, we outline the opportunities and challenges in this kind of engagement with a view to guiding other scholars interested in engaging in this space.

Keywords:  advocacy; data access; non-academic engagement; platforms; policymakers



© Katharine Dommett, Rebekah Tromble. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.