Data Donation Symposium

11-12 September 2023 in Zurich

Data donation as an approach to make digital trace data accessible for academic research has become a trending topic over the last years. In the wake of legal advancements such as the introduction of the GDPR in the European Union, direct cooperation with citizens to access data that online services collect about their users has become both more attractive and easier. By now, most major online platforms and services provide their users with options to request and download their personal data in a structured form. Potentially, this makes a wide range of data accessible for researchers, including social media use, search histories, shopping data, health tracking records from wearables, and many more. Hence, this development offers huge opportunities for academic research in different disciplines and the number of initiatives that are enabling and supporting data donations is increasing across Europe (e.g., MiData, Data Donation Lab, OS2DF, DataSkop), and so is the interest in and the number of empirical studies building upon data donations.

Despite its promises, the collection of data donations is also associated with several challenges and uncertainties that can best be solved through interdisciplinary exchange and cooperation. Among others, these encompass (a) the legal and ethical aspects of processing data donations, (b) the technical and organizational implementation of data donation collections, (c) the psychological considerations regarding the motivation and recruitment of potential data donors, and (d) epistemological considerations regarding potential biases specific to data donations or new challenges regarding the analysis of donated data. Every data donation project is faced with these considerations but due to the relative novelty of the approach, there is still a lack of established practices, strategies, or guidelines. Hence, to strengthen and foster the advancement of data donations as an approach to collect digital trace data, this international symposium provides a platform to discuss the topic of data donations from different perspectives and across academic disciplines.

Submission of Presentation Proposals

We welcome proposals from all disciplines. Proposals can focus on, but are not limited to

  • theoretical contributions related to data donations,
  • technical tools that enable or support the collection of data donations,
  • empirical studies researching methodological aspects of data donations, or
  • empirical studies employing data donation approaches in different disciplines.

Presentation proposals should be submitted as extended abstracts, consisting of a maximum of 1,000 words (excluding tables, figures, and references) and be written in English. Proposals can be submitted as PDF files via e-mail to with the subject line “DD Symposium Proposal Submission”. Submission deadline is 30 April 2023.

The organising committee will evaluate all received proposals regarding their thematic fit to the symposium as well as the quality and clarity of the presented method and argumentation. If necessary external reviews will be consulted. The notification of acceptance will be sent out on 1 June 2023.


This symposium is organized by the Data Donation Lab, an infrastructure initiative at the Digital Society Initiative of the University of Zurich. The symposium will take place in a hybrid form: both virtual participation as well as in person participation at the City Campus of the University of Zurich are possible. The symposium will be held in English. Further information on the conference venue and the program will be communicated in due time.