Multimodality Talks Series: A Multimodal Approach to Big Data Analytics

Day: 4th June 2021

Time: 12.00-13.30 (GMT)

Place: online

Speaker: Prof. Kay O’Halloran, University of Liverpool, UK

Watch the recording of the talk here


In this presentation, I discuss recent moves towards multimodal approaches to big data analytics, which involve empirically testing and validating multimodal theory and frameworks through the analysis of large data sets. As a step in this direction, I introduce the Multimodal Analysis Platform (MAP) which is capable of searching, storing and analysing news and social media at scale (O’Halloran, Pal and Jin 2021). Facilities in MAP are used to integrate critical attributes from multiple modalities (e.g. language, visual images, and metadata) with the aim of capturing patterns and trends across digital platforms. MAP is being used to understand citizens’ decision making about Covid-19 testing and vaccination in the Liverpool City Region in the United Kingdom. I will report on preliminary findings from this study which demonstrate that understanding of effective public health messaging and public attitudes are required to optimise Covid-19 testing and vaccination. The study also reveals the necessity of using a multimodal theoretical framework to integrate the various computational tools into a robust methodological approach for investigating content and information in online media. This meeting of theory and technology will remain a critical research agenda for the foreseeable future.


O’Halloran, K. L., Pal, G., & Jin, M. (2021). Multimodal approach to analysing big social and news media data. Discourse, Context & Media, 40,


Professor Kay O’Halloran is Chair Professor and Head of Department of Communication and Media in the School of the Arts at the University of Liverpool and Visiting Distinguished Professor at the Martin Centre for Appliable Linguistics at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Prior to this she worked at Curtin University, Western Australia (2013–2019), and the National University of Singapore (1998–2013) where she was a member of the Department of the English Language & Literature, and Director of the Multimodal Analysis Lab in the Interactive & Digital Media Institute. Kay is an internationally recognized academic in the field of multimodal analysis, involving the study of the interaction of language with other resources in texts, interactions and events. A key focus of her work is the development of digital tools and techniques for multimodal analysis. Kay is currently working with research teams at the University of Liverpool to develop multimodal mixed methods approaches for big data analytics.

Wikipedia: Kay O’Halloran | Google Scholar: Kay O’Halloran

The Multimodality Talks Series is organised by the University of Leeds Multimodality@Leeds, The UCL Visual and Multimodal Research Forum, and Insulander/Svärdemo Åberg at the Department of Education, Stockholm University. It is conceived of working as a tandem with the Bremen-Groningen Online Workshops on Multimodality to make the best of the online format to offer multiple chances for sharing research and stimulating discussions on multimodality worldwide. See the full Multimodality Talk Series programme here:

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