Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 880262-M-6
A Theoretical Approach to Data and (Mis)information
Course info
Course module880262-M-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryMA (Master)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences; TSH: Commun. and Inform. Sciences; TSH: Department Communication and Cognition;
Is part of
M Communication and Information Sciences (research)
M Linguistics and Communication Sciences (research)
Convenant TSH
dr. R.M.F. Koolen
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksCaution: this information is subject to change
Registration openfrom 14/10/2020 up to and including 20/08/2021
Note: assignment to subgroups will be determined at the start of the course.

After this course, you will be able to:
  • Interpret and explain relevant concepts with regard to data and misleading information.
  • Critically analyze and evaluate the accuracy of professional messages.
  • Apply scientific literature to reflect on professional cases, with the aim to generate a critical opinion on the subject matter.
How factual is the communication about a corona-related app which focuses either on privacy concerns or health benefits? How do graphs mislead? Why do conspiracy theories appeal? Why do people keep believing in a link between 5G and the corona virus? This course is about developing a critical attitude towards data and information in online professional messages. Our first focus is on data and ‘facts’ (factoids, alternative facts, et cetera). It is often assumed that these are objective ‘nuggets of truth’ but you will learn how data and facts can also be biased. We then move on to the interpretation of these data and facts. Even with truthful data and facts, we are still confronted with misleading information on a daily basis. This misleading information can be spread intentionally or not: the media may deliberately spread information to deceive other people (disinformation), or they can do so based on an honest mistake (misinformation). Either way, in this course, you are going to develop the skills to critically assess data and information.

We will focus specifically on:
  • Framing in online professional messages (making certain aspects of reality stand out while hiding other aspects)
  • Fact-checking: Finding and checking factual assertions in text, photos and videos of online professional messages
  • The varying quality of data sets (e.g., questionable research practices)
  • Conspiracy theories and filter bubbles
  • (Misleading) data visualizations
  • Dealing with misleading information - the receiver's perspective - sticky mtyhs and ignored facts
We will discuss current research and all kinds of online professional messages. 

To successfully finish the course, you will need to:

1. Assemble a portfolio (individual: 30% of end grade), for which you:
  • Write two blogposts reflecting on the content of the lectures
  • Present one of your blogs during the course
2. Do a fact-checking project (group: 20% of end grade)
3. Do a written exam (individual: 50% of end grade)
4. Contribute to discussions (in class and online; pass/no pass)

Note: you need to score at least a 6 on parts 1-3. Your contribution to the discussions needs to be rewarded with a pass.

Preparation for the labor market

Being able to critically assess data and information is valuable in all professional domains. Not taking given information for granted, knowing how to debunk misleading information and being able to present truthful information are all highly appreciated and much needed skills.
Contact person
dr. R. van Enschot
Timetable information
A Theoretical Approach to Data and (Mis)information
Written test opportunities
Written exam / Written examEXAM_01BLOK 2228-01-2021
Written test opportunities (HIST)
Required materials
Several academic articles serve as study material. For example: Cairo, A. (2015). Graphics lies, misleading visuals: Reflections on the challenges and pitfalls of evidence-driven visual communication. In D. Bihanic (Ed.), New challenges for data design (pp. 103-116). Springer-Verlag, London. Scheufele, D.A., & Iyengar, S. (2014). The State of Framing Research: A Call for New Directions. K. Kenski, & K.H. Jamieson (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press. Wicherts, J. M. et al. (2016). Degrees of freedom in planning, running, analyzing and reporting psychological studies: A checklist to avoid p-hacking. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1832. The whole reading list will be announced on Canvas.
Recommended materials
Written exam

Final Result

Individual portfolio

Group project: fact-checking

Kies de Nederlandse taal