Media and Data Science Lab

Media and Data Science Lab

The MAD Science Lab Mission

The Media and Data Science Lab is a state-of-the-art media analytics and data science lab designed for conducting cutting-edge industry and academic research in the ever-evolving digital media ecosystem. Collaborating with corporate and governmental partners, the MAD Science Lab combines communication expertise with advanced data analytics to provide practical insights into contemporary issues. The MAD Science Lab is housed in the Institute for Communication & Information Research of the College of Communication & Information Science at the University of Alabama at 470 Reese Phifer Hall.

Powered by Sprinklr, the lab leverages is vast digital and social media data collection and analysis capabilities to analyze how social network structures and information flows impact communication outcomes across social networking sites, blogs, discussion forums, product review sites, and news sites. The MAD Science Lab’s mission includes four primary objectives:

  • Become a hub for media and data science research for industry and academia
  • Serve as incubator for the development of novel analytical and theoretical approaches to “big data” research
  • Train communication data scientists equipped with high demand data analytical skills and an understanding of communication processes
  • Provide professional clients top-notch monitoring and advanced analysis services

Lab Hours:

Mondays: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Tuesdays: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Thursdays: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Fridays: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Lab hours on Friday will be group trainings when requested. Sprinklr trainings will take place from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Leximancer and LIWC trainings will be held from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Trainings & Requests

C&IS faculty, students, and staff can request training or lab access by completing a MAD Science Request.

While lab hours are open, appointments are strongly recommended to ensure availability of lab personnel, equipment and software.

For all other inquiries, please contact us at [INSERT EMAIL HERE’].

Lab Capabilities

Basic Data Collection

The Public Opinion Lab has access to current and historical social media and comment posts from a variety of sources including Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, discussion forums, news sites, QQ, and various other crawled data.  Our team will work with you to identify and collect data necessary to answer your industry and academic research questions.

Audience Monitoring & Analysis

Our team will examine both direct engagement with your brand or organization and indirect conversations about your brand or organization. We will analyze the conversations to understand what key topics matter to your audience, who drives those conversations, and what content characteristics lead to active engagement.

Our Audience Monitoring & Analysis report provides clients actionable insights based on a variety of analyses including:

  • Volume of posts
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Emotion
  • Topics of brand conversations
  • Audience affinities
  • Geographic analysis
  • …and more

Market Trend Analysis

The Market Trend Analysis takes a broader view of clients’ market sectors across social media platforms to understand:

  • Emerging consumer attitudes and concerns
  • Social media strategies and tactics that work and do not work in particular markets
  • Communication patterns across different platforms
  • Opportunities and threats for brands moving forward

Aggregating information across these analyses, our team will provide clients with a social media SWOT analysis and strategic recommendations for future social media strategies.

Competitive Brand Evaluation

We will conduct a cross-platform examination of how your brand’s perception, audience, and activities stack up against up to three competitors.

Aggregating data from multiple platforms of interest, we will go beyond the basic audience monitoring and analysis to examine the category trends, share-of-voice, volume trends, net sentiment, audience affinities, and geographic coverage against the competition.

Custom Data Collection & Analysis

Customized approaches to data collection and analysis can be design for specific client and partner needs including specialized data scraping, social network analysis, data mining, machine learning and more. We work with the client to understand the questions they want answered and devise custom data solutions to fit the project’s needs.

The MAD Scientists

Dr. Jameson Hayes


Jameson Hayes (Ph.D., University of Georgia) is the Director of the Public Opinion Lab and an associate professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. Dr. Hayes’ research specialization is emerging media marketing communication and social media analytics, specifically examining the intersection of brand and interpersonal communication within emerging media and the resulting implications for advertising/marketing communication theory and practice.

Dr. Brian Britt

Associate Director, Data Analytics

Brian Britt(Ph.D., Purdue University) is the Associate Director of Data Analytics for the Public Opinion Lab and an associate professor in the Department of Advertising + Public Relations. Dr. Britt’s research primarily focuses on the intersection between organizational communication and new media, with a particular emphasis on the strategies employed by individuals positioning themselves in online organizations and the ways in which those organizations evolve over time. As a computational social scientist, Dr. Britt connects large-scale data collection and management approaches with innovative statistical analyses in order to address social scientific problems and contexts that would otherwise be intractable.

Dr. Rebecca Britt

Associate Dean of Research
Dr. Rebecca Britt (Ph.D., Purdue University) conducts research examining health communication and the role of new media. She examines large web data sets to understand health discourse and structural and temporal features in online communities. Other projects include studies of social media influencers, online video game subcultures and social dynamics. Dr. Britt enjoys working in the Public Opinion Lab to collaborate on studies that involve gathering data using Twitter and Reddit and has an interest in examining conversations about brands surrounding social media influencers (such as in the beauty, fashion and lifestyle), communication about stigmatized health issues and disparities in health, among many other ideas!

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Elliot Panek studies the uses and effects of digital media from sociological and psychological perspectives. He has published research in top-tier academic journals on the topics of social media and narcissism, texting while driving, media addiction, and media use and political polarization. In 2015, Dr. Panek founded the Alabama Reddit Research Group (ARRG), a research team at the University of Alabama dedicated to improving our understanding of the social dynamics and impact of Reddit.

Dr. Gregory J. Bott, CISSP, holds the Marilyn Hewson Chair Professor of Cyber Security in the Department of Information Systems, Statistics, and Management Science at the University of Alabama. He is also a Cyber Nexus Distinguished Fellow and his primary research areas are cybersecurity, human trafficking, and information privacy. He has published in the Productions and Operations Management Journal, the Journal for Management Information Systems, Computers and Security, and Communications of the AIS, and several academic conferences.


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