Big data

Aims and scope

The availability of Big Data is becoming increasingly common in many felds such as business, computer science, government, and the social and behavioral sciences including psychology.

There are four key characteristics that may qualify data as Big Data, namely Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity. High-volume data refers to the size of the dataset. If it is too large, it can lead to problems with storage and analysis. High-velocity data means that the data are received at a high rate and/or have to be processed within a short period of time (e.g., real-time and interactive processing).

High-variety data are data consisting of many types of structured and unstructured data containing a mixture of text, pictures, videos, and numbers. Another characteristic of Big Data is the veracity, which indicates the importance of the quality (or truthfulness) of the data. Big Data with potential high relevance for psychology include social media data, health/physiological tracker data, geolocation data, dynamic public records, travel route data, and behavioral and genetic data.

The overall aim of this research area is to address methods and applications using Big Data in psychology. In line with the scientometric research tradition at ZPID, the current focus is on scientometrics and meta-psychology using Big Data methods. Research topics include:

  • Identification of research topics and trends in large text corpora
  • Investigating the scientific communication of psychology researchers on Twitter
  • Bibliometric studies using text mining and network analysis
  • Methodological and statistical issues in collecting, handling, processing, and analyzing Big Data in psychology
  • Leveraging machine learning to automate systematic reviews
  • Implications for research supporting infrastructure services in psychology (see PsychTopics)


Central publications

  • Bittermann, A., Batzdorfer, V., Müller, S. M., & Steinmetz, H. (2021). Mining Twitter to detect hotspots in psychology. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 229(1), 3–14.

  • Batzdorfer, V., Steinmetz, H., Biella, M., & Alizadeh, M. (2021). Conspiracy theories on Twitter: Emerging motifs and temporal dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Data Science and Analytics.

  • Richter, J., Bittermann, A., Christiansen, H., Krämer, L. V., Kuhberg-Lasson, V., & Schneider, S. (2021). Der Forschungsbeitrag der deutschsprachigen Klinischen Psychologie zu Themen der psychischen Störungen und Psychotherapie. Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 49(2), 113–127.

  • Bittermann, A. (2019). Development of a user-friendly app for exploring and analyzing research topics in psychology. In G. Catalano, C. Daraio, M. Gregori, H. F. Moed & G. Ruocco (Hrsg.),Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (2634–2635). Rom: Edizioni Efesto.

  • Bittermann, A. & Fischer, A. (2018). How to identify hot topics in psychology using topic modeling. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 226, 3–13.

Cooperation projects



We contribute bibliometric analyses to the Hessian collaborative project for translational psychotherapy research.
(with Prof. Dr. Winfried Rief, Philipps-Universität Marburg; Dr. Viktoria Ritter, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt)

Identification of research topics in continuously growing text corpora

(with Jonas Rieger, Dortmund University of Technology)

The landscape of research on prior knowledge and learning

(with Prof. Dr. Michael Schneider & Dr. Bianca Simonsmeier, University of Trier; Prof. Dr. Danielle McNamara, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA)

Using machine learning to automate systematic reviews

(with Dr. Tanja Burgard, ZPID)

Smartphone Sensing Panel Study

(with Prof. Dr. Markus Bühner & Dr. Ramona Schödel, Ludwig-Maximilians- University Munich)


The relationship between lay interests and research topics in psychology

(with Mark Jonas, Dr. Anita Chasiotis & Dr. Tom Rosman, ZPID)

Conspiracy theories on Twitter (2021)

(with Dr. Marco Biella, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen; Dr. Meysam Alizadeh, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)

The research contribution of clinical psychology from the German-speaking countries (2021)

(with Dr. Jan Richter, Universität Greifswald; Prof. Dr. Hanna Christiansen, Philipps-Universität Marburg; Dr. Lena Krämer, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg; Dr. Veronika Kuhberg-Lasson, ZPID; Prof. Dr. Silvia Schneider, Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Research interests of doctoral students (2020)

(with Dr. Andreas Fischer, Research Institute for Vocational Education, Nuremberg)

Flight and migration as a research topic in psychology (2019)

(with Dr. Eva Klos, Trier University of Applied Sciences)

Hot topics in psychology (2018)

(with Dr. Andreas Fischer, Forschungsinstitut betriebliche Bildung, Nuremberg)


Research Synthesis and Big Data in Psychology, May 17-21, 2021, online:
Videos and presentations

Research Synthesis incl. Pre-Conference Symposium: Big Data in Psychology, May 27-31, 2019, Dubrovnik, Croatia:
Videos and presentations

Big Data in Psychology 2018, June 7-9, 2018, Trier, Germany:
Videos and presentations

Edited volumes and series

Zeitschrift für Psychologie, Special Issue „Hotspots in Psychology“ (2022) 

Social Science Computer Review, Special Issue "Big Data in the Behaviorial Social Sciences" (2021) 

Visiting researchers

  • Prof. Dr. Mike Cheung, National University of Singapore
    (June 2018)