Faculty - John McLevey, PhD

Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies
Department of Knowledge Integration

Cross-appointments:

  • Department of Sociology & Legal Studies
  • Department of Geography & Environmental Management
  • School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability

Contact information:

Phone: 519-888-4567, ext. 41938
Office: Environment 1 (EV1), room 215
Email: john.mclevey@uwaterloo.ca, ki.ug.associatechair@uwaterloo.ca

John McLevey website
NetLab website

Degrees:

  • PhD Sociology, McMaster University, 2013
  • MA Sociology, McMaster University, 2009
  • BA (H) Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2008

Research interests:

  • Computational social science
    • Social and cultural networks, diffusion
    • Generative models, Bayesian data analysis, agent-based simulation
    • Computational text analysis
  • Cultural cognition and affect, cultural learning, social influence, identity theory
  • Public opinion, polarization, and large-scale cultural change
  • Political and environmental sociology

John’s current research addresses three broad and longstanding themes that cut across the social, cognitive, and computational/statistical sciences. First, he is developing generative models of schematic cognition, social influence, and cultural learning to deepen our knowledge of how latent opinions, identities, beliefs, and behaviors form and co-evolve, and to better measure polarization and large-scale cultural change. In developing these models, he is primarily focused on culture related to five substantive issues: climate change and environmental policy; privacy, security, and surveillance; democracy and autocracy; science and expertise; and, finally, lifestyle preferences and politics. Second, he is using these models as digital 'laboratories' (of a sort) to better understand the workings and impacts of coordinated information operations such as disinformation campaigns and censorship on populations. Third, he is using data from social media platforms to better understand the role of emotional dynamics and identity-related processes in online political discussions. John approaches each of these projects as a computational social scientist with expertise in network science and social network analysis, probabilistic and generative modelling, and computational text analysis.

To date, Dr. McLevey’s work to date has been funded by research grants from SSHRC and an Early Researcher Award from the Ministry of Research and Innovation. He is currently the Principal Investigator of a SSHRC-funded project (2020 – 2025) called “Disinformation, Democracy, and Online Political Deliberation.” He is also involved in several collaborative projects with colleagues throughout Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Germany, and France.

You can learn more about Dr. McLevey’s research by visiting the webpage for his research lab, Netlab.

Publications:

Books / research monographs:

  1. HM Collins, R Evans, M Innes, W Mason-Wilkes, E Kennedy, and J McLevey (Collins as lead author with others listed alphabetically). 2022. The Face-to-Face Principle and the Internet: Science, Trust, Truth, and Democracy. Cardiff, UK: Cardiff University Press.
  2. John McLevey. 2021. Doing Computational Social Science. London, UK: Sage. Research methods and data science series.
  3. Mark Stoddart, Alice Mattoni, and John McLevey. 2020. Industrial Development and Eco-Tourisms: Is Co-existence Possible Between Oil Exploration and Nature Conservation? London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.

Peer reviewed journal articles:

  • John McLevey, Tyler Crick, Pierson Browne, and Darrin Durant. 2022. “A New Method for Computational Cultural Cartography: From Neural Word Embeddings to Transformers and Bayesian Mixture Models.” Canadian Review of Sociology.
  • Allyson Stokes, Janice Aurini, Jessica Riztk, Rob Gorbet, and John McLevey. 2022. “Using Robotics to Support the Acquisition of 21st Century Competencies: Promising (and Practical) Directions.” Canadian Journal of Education.
  • Jessica Rizk, Janice Aurini, Allyson Stokes, Rob Gorbet, and John McLevey. “Leading through the COVID-19 Pandemic: Research with Canadian Education Leaders.” Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy.
  • Alexander Graham, John McLevey, Tyler Crick, and Pierson Browne. 2022. “Structural Diversity is a Poor Proxy for Information Diversity: Evidence from 25 Scientific Fields.” Social Networks. 70:55-63.
  • David Tindall, John McLevey, Yasmin Koop-Monteiro, and Alexander Graham. 2022. “Big Data, Computational Social Science, and Other Recent Innovations in Social Network Analysis.” Forthcoming from Canadian Review of Sociology / Revue canadienne de sociologie.
  • Igor Grossman, Oliver Twardus, Michael E. W. Varnum, Eranda Jayawickreme, and John McLevey. 2021. “Expert Predictions of Societal Change: Insights from the World after COVID Project.” American Psychologist.
  • Kathryn S. Plaisance, Janet Michaud, and John McLevey. 2021. “Pathways of Influence: Understanding the Impacts of Philosophy of Science in Scientific Domains.” Synthese.
  • Mark Stoddart, John McLevey, Vanessa Schweizer, and Catherine Wong. 2020. “Climate Change and Energy Futures: Theoretical Frameworks, Epistemological Issues, and Methodological Perspectives.” Introduction to an edited special issue of Society & Natural Resources.
  • Kathryn S. Plaisance, Alexander V. Graham, John McLevey, and Janet Michaud. 2019. “Show Me the Numbers: A Quantitative Portrait of the Attitudes, Experiences, and Values of Philosophers of Science.” Synthese. 1-31.
  • Owen Gallupe, John McLevey, and Sarah Brown. 2018. “Selection or Influence? A Meta-Analysis of the Association between Peer and Personal Offending.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology. 1-23.
  • John McLevey, Alexander Graham, Reid McIlroy-Young, Pierson Browne, and Kathryn S. Plaisance. 2018. “Interdisciplinarity and Insularity in the Diffusion of Knowledge: An Analysis of Disciplinary Boundaries Between Philosophy of Science and the Sciences.” Scientometrics. 117(1):331-349.
  • John McLevey and Reid McIlroy-Young. 2017. “Introducing metaknowledge: Software for Computational Research in Information Science, Network Analysis, and Science of Science.” The Journal of Informetrics. 11: 176-197.
  • Allyson Stokes and John McLevey (equal authors). 2016. “From Porter to Bourdieu: The Evolving Specialty Structure of English Canadian Sociology, 1966- 2014.” Canadian Review of Sociology / Revue canadienne de sociologie. 53(2):176–202.
  • John McLevey. 2015. “Understanding Policy Research in Liminal Spaces: Think Tank Responses to Diverging Principles of Legitimacy.” Social Studies of Science. 45(2):270-293.
  • John McLevey. 2014. “Think Tanks, Funding, and the Politics of Policy Knowledge in Canada.” Canadian Review of Sociology / Revue canadienne de sociologie. 51(1):54-75.

Peer reviewed book chapters in edited volumes:

  • John McLevey and Tyler Crick. Forthcoming 2021. “Machine Learning and Neural Network Language Modelling for Sentiment Analysis.” In Luke Sloan and Anabel Quan-Haase (eds.) The Sage Handbook of Social Media Research. Sage.
  • John McLevey, Pierson Browne, and Tyler Crick. Forthcoming 2021. “Reproducibility, Transparency, and Principled Data Processing.” In Uwe Engel and Anabel Quan-Haase (eds.) Handbook of Computational Social Science. Routledge.
  • David Tindall, Mark Stoddart, John McLevey, Lorien Jasny, Dana R. Fisher, Jennifer Earl, and Mario Diani. Forthcoming 2021. “The Challenges and Opportunities of Ego-Network Analysis of Social Movements and Collective Action.” In Mario Small, Brea Perry, Bernice Pescosolido, and Edward Smith (Eds.) Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Ego-centric Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • John McLevey, Allyson Stokes, and Amelia Howard. 2018. “Pierre Bourdieu’s Uneven Influence on Anglophone Canadian Sociology.” Thomas Medvetz and Jeff Sallaz (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Pierre Bourdieu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [This chapter was also translated into French and published in Franck Poupeau and Amín Pérez (eds.) 2021. Bourdieu and the Americas. Institut des Hautes Etudes de Amerique Latine Presses.]
  • John McLevey and Ryan Deschamps. 2018. “The Sociology of Public Policy Formation and Implementation.” William Outhwaite and Stephen Turner (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Political Sociology. SAGE.

Edited volumes / books:

  • John McLevey, John Scott, and Peter Carrington (eds). The Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis, Volume 2. London: Sage. Currently under contract and in progress.

Policy and research reports:

  • John McLevey, Pierson Browne, Tyler Crick, and Jillian Anderson. 2020. “Applied Computer Vision for Disinformation Research: An Analysis of Twitter’s Elections Integrity Data on Russian and Chinese Information Operations.” Research report for the Crime & Security Research Institute, Cardiff University.
  • John McLevey, Pierson Browne, and Tyler Crick. 2020. “Online Deception & Dynamic Narrative Networks.” Research report for the Crime & Security Research Institute, Cardiff University.
  • Gorbet, Rob, Janice Aurini, Jessica Risk, Allyson Stokes, John McLevey, and Nicole Figueiredo. 2020. “COVID-19 Pandemic and Canadian Schooling.” Prepared for Education Onward Council in consultation with Fair-Chance Learning.
  • Aurini, Janice, Rob Gorbet, John McLevey, Jessica Rizk, Allyson Stokes (Alphabetical). 2019. “White Paper on Ed-Tech Connect: An Intersectoral Workshop on Education, Technology, and 21st Century Labour.” Funded by SSHRC Connections Grant.
  • Janice Aurini, John McLevey, Allyson Stokes, and Rob Gorbet. 2017. “Classroom Robotics and Acquisition of 21st Century Competencies: An Action Research Study of Nine Ontario School Boards.” Report for the Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) and the Ministry of Education, Ontario.

Special issues of peer-reviewed journals:

  • David Tindall, John McLevey, and Nina Kolleck (editors). Social Networks and Climate Change. Special issue / section of Social Networks. Special issue currently in progress.
  • Mark Stoddart, John McLevey, Vanessa Schweizer, and Catherine Wong (editors). 2020 Climate Change and Energy Futures. Special issue of Society and Natural Resources.

Manuscripts in progress:

  • John McLevey. In progress. “Lifestyle politics and mass opinion polarization in global perspective: A longitudinal analysis of population-level belief networks.” Working paper.
  • John McLevey. In progress. “Normative and associative diffusion in heterogenous populations: A computational experiment.” Working paper.
  • John McLevey. In progress. “An agent-based computational model of affect control and climate change denial.” Working paper.
  • John McLevey. 2022. “Do liberals drink lattes across the multiverse? Cultural learning and the evolution of identities, opinion, and cultural preferences.” Working paper.
  • John McLevey, Pierson Browne, and Tyler Crick. In progress. “Bayesian latent variable models for social network analysis.” In preparation for the second volume of the Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis.
  • John McLevey, Adam Howe, Yixi Yang, and Yasmin Koop-Monteiro. In progress. “Software for Social Network Analysis” In preparation for the second volume of the Sage Handbook of Social Network Analysis.

Research grants:

  • 2020-2025. John McLevey (Principal Investigator), Anabel Quan-Haase (Co-Applicant), David Tindall (Co-Applicant), Collaborators: Darrin Durant, Deena Abul-Fottouh, Owen Gallupe, Martin Innes. “Disinformation, Democracy, and Online Political Deliberation.” SSHRC Insight Grant, $219,003 + $20,000 research supplement from the Department of Canadian Heritage Initiative for Digital Citizenship.
  • 2019. Janice Aurini, Allyson Stokes, John McLevey, Jessica Riztk, and Rob Gorbet. “Ed-Tech Connect: An Intersectoral Workshop on Education, Technology, and 21st Century Labour.” SSHRC Connection Grant, $16,400 (plus matching funds).
  • 2018-2019. Mark Stoddart (PI), John McLevey, (Co-Applicant), John Sandlos (Co-Applicant), Vanessa Schweizer (Co-Applicant), Catherine Mei Ling Wong (Co-Applicant). Climate Change and Energy Futures Workshop: Challenges and Opportunities for Global and Interdisciplinary Research. SSHRC Connection Grant, $24,373 (plus $14,339 in matching funds from Memorial University and University of Waterloo).
  • 2016-2022. David Tindall (PI), John McLevey (Co-I), Mark Stoddart (Co-I). Collaborators: Mario Diani, Jennifer Earl, Dana R Fisher, Philip Leifeld, Andrew Jorgenson, Philippe Le Billon, Don Grant, Moses Boudourides. Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Grant Application. “Making sense of climate action: Understanding social mobilization to curb anthropogenic climate change through advances in social network analysis,” $282,672
  • 2016-2020 John McLevey (PI), Ontario Early Researcher Award, Ministry of Research and Innovation, “Information and Idea Diffusion in an Open Source Collaboration Network,” $150,000.
  • 2016-2018 John McLevey (PI), Owen Gallupe (Collaborator) and Martin Cooke (Collaborator), Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Development Grant, “Remaking the Boundaries of Open and Proprietary Science: A Longitudinal Study of Biomedical Research and Development Networks in Canada” $67,790.
  • 2016-2018 Katie Plaisance (PI) and John McLevey (Co-I), Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Development Grant, “Increasing the Impact of Philosophy of Science in Scientific Domains”, $59,302
  • 2015-2016 John McLevey (PI) and Vanessa Schweizer (Co-I), Basillie School of International Affairs, Major Workshops Grant, “Challenges and Opportunities for Governance of Socio-Ecological Systems in Comparative Perspective,” $8,400.
  • 2015-2020 Mark Stoddart (PI) and John McLevey (Co-I), Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Grant, “The Oil-Tourism Interface and Social-Ecological Change in the North Atlantic,” $188,423.
  • 2014-2016 John McLevey (PI), Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Insight Development Grant, “Collaborative Design in Online Networks,” $74,814.
  • 2013 University of Waterloo, Faculty Research Startup Grant, $15,000.

Selected open source research software:

  • dcss: A Python package accompanying John McLevey (2021) Doing Computational Social Science. Includes curated datasets and a large collection of utility functions for data processing and working with statistical and machine learning models. Currently in beta and under active development.
  • metaknowledge: A Python package for quantitative and social networks research in the sociology of science and information science. Developed by Reid McIlroy-Young and John McLevey. First released in 2015. Under active development. metaknowledge website and documentation
  • Nate: A Python package for network-based text analysis. Developed by John McLevey, Pierson Browne, and Tyler Crick. Under active development. Nate website and documentation
  • pdpp: A Python package for principled data processing, Python. Developed by Pierson Browne, Tyler Crick, Rachel Wood, and John McLevey. First released in 2015. Under active development. pdpp website
  • M2C3: A Python package implementing methods and models (M2) of cultural cognition and change (C3), with an emphasis on belief network analysis, relational class analysis, correlational class analysis, and other approaches to analyzing and modelling shared cultural schemas from survey data. Developed by John McLevey. Currently in beta and under active development. (The alpha version was called dems.)
  • simkit: A Python package for generative modelling (esp. agent-based computational models and probabilistic models) of cultural learning and social influence, structural identity and affect control, and institutional emergence. Developed by John McLevey. Currently in beta and under active development.

Courses:

  • INTEG 120: The Art & Science of Learning
  • INTEG 240: Bullshit, Bias, & Bad Arguments
  • INTEG 340: Research Methods & Design
  • INTEG 440: Computational Social Science
  • INTEG 640: Computational Social Science
  • FCIT 607: Data Analysis and Modelling for Future Cities