Digital Ecologies Research Partnership

DERP is an alliance of platforms supporting the academic exploration of communities online for the betterment of the internet at large.


Launched in 2014, the Digital Ecologies Research Partnership (DERP) is a joint initiative by an alliance of community websites to promote open, publicly accessible, and ethical academic inquiry into the vibrant social dynamics of the web.

DERP seeks to solve two problems in the academic research space:

First, it is difficult for academic researchers to easily obtain data for their work beyond the confines of the largest social media platforms. DERP is a single point of contact for researchers to get in touch with relevant team members across a range of different community sites. We envision that this will lower the friction to investigating these sites in more depth, and broaden the scope of research happening within the academic community.

Second, it remains difficult to conduct good cross-platform analyses in academic research. By bringing a number community of sites together under a single cooperative effort, we intend to lower the friction of doing so, as well as better enable the sites themselves to coordinate with one another on supporting researchers.

DERP focuses on providing public data to academic researchers while facilitating an active online research community of Fellows. DERP will only support research that respects user privacy, responsibly uses data, and meets IRB approval. All research supported by DERP will be released openly and made publicly available. Partner platforms may also have additional guidelines and privacy commitments that apply to the research they support.


DERP Fellows are a community of affiliate researchers that currently are using DERP data, and also provide assistance to the Partnership on its continuing operations as an advisory committee.


As of September 2014, DERP has 5 partner organizations that collaborate in providing data and supporting academic researchers:


DERP connects researchers with points of contact at online communities and data resources. If you wish to request data from a DERP community, please send us a proposal outlining your research.

here's some guidelines:

  1. 1Provide a firm sense of the project.

    No need for a long description, but the proposal should give us a sense of what you plan to do, what platforms you want to team up with, and what kind of support (datasets or otherwise) that you need.

  2. 2Give some details about your research background.

    This can be really lightweight - a link to your CV or academic page is enough.

  3. 3Describe the level of institutional support/review you have.

    Has the project already been approved through an IRB? Is it a new project, or part of an ongoing body of work? This won't be determinative, but is good to know.