Call For Papers - Special Issue: Open Government Data for Citizen Participation (deadline extended to June 10th)


For this special issue of the journal Information Polity, we are interested in papers on the topic of open government data for citizen participation. 

Special Issue Guest Editors:  Shirley Kempeneer, Tilburg Law School, Tilbury University, The Netherlands & Johan Wolswinkel, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, The Netherlands.

Public sector organizations (PSO) produce, collect and pay for vast amounts of data, known as public sector information (PSI) or government data. Examples include geographical information, statistics, weather data and data from publicly funded researched projects, but also information used in rule-making and individual decision-making. Public organizations around the world have increasingly released many of this information as Open Government Data (OGD). OGD are non-privacy-restricted and non-confidential data, produced with public money and made available without any restrictions on their usage or distribution (Janssen et al., 2012). The academic literature on OGD is expanding rapidly but our specific theoretical and empirical understanding of the relation between OGP and one of its key objectives, strengthening citizen participation, is still limited. Therefore, this special issue aims to collect state-of-the-art theoretical and empirical research on the specific topic of the relation between OGD and citizen participation.

In recent years, the OGD movement has gained traction globally (Andraško & Mesarčík, 2018; Moon, 2019). OGD initiatives are regularly credited with a myriad of socio-economic goals that all aim to improve society. Among other objectives, OGD is expected to strengthen transparency and democratic processes through increased citizen participation (Gil-Garcia et al., 2020). Many people would like to provide input on public policy more often yet might not do so by lack of sufficient information. It can also be overwhelming to try and defend your point of view in an individual conflict with a public body if you do not have access to the relevant data. OGD can help to address this. However, ‘opening up’ data does not automatically lead to informed citizens, who feel empowered by information and are able to hold policy makers accountable based on this information (Meijer et al., 2012).

To achieve these objectives, it is therefore a precondition that public bodies unlock relevant data to citizens in a citizen-friendly way. By ‘citizen-friendly’ we thus mean government data supplied in a way that citizens can access and understand it, and subsequently use it to hold public officials accountable or participate in public decision-making. Of course, citizen participation comes in many flavors, as famously summarized in Sherry Arnstein’s (1969) “ladder of citizen participation”. This ladder ranges from citizen manipulation and more symbolic forms of participation to actual citizen empowerment. It seems probable that the way in which information is shared will have an impact on the level of citizen participation, and at least that sharing government information in a citizen-friendly way is an important prerequisite for meaningful citizen participation. Currently, there are insufficient legal and other stimulants that encourage governments to share data with citizens in such a meaningful, participation-oriented way, as existing guidance seems to focus more on preventing administrative burden than on empowering citizens (Nugroho et al., 2015; Schnell, 2016).

While the challenges and opportunities associated with open government data are high on the public sector agenda, driven by the datafication of society and renewed legal frameworks regarding the (re)use of this data (e.g. the EU Open Data Directive), our academic understanding of the drivers and barriers to citizen-friendly open government data is still limited. This special issue of Information Polity is therefore specifically interested in developing and strengthening the citizen perspective in how governments communicate their data and welcomes contributions to any of the different levels of citizen participation. It features a selection of manuscripts from an open call for papers, as well as a conference organized within the scope of the NWO-MVI project ‘Citizen-friendly data communication’, in June 2022 in Tilburg, Netherlands. The papers selected for this special issue contribute to knowledge in the areas of public policy, governance, public administration, participation, transparency and social equity in connection with adjacent fields such as data visualization, information and communications sciences and public law. Articles should be approximately 8000 words in length. 

Scope of the Special issue

This special issue will explore the topic of open government data communication with citizens. We invite researchers to submit abstracts for theoretical, empirical and critical oriented papers that address aspects at the intersect of open government data and the different levels of citizen participation from interdisciplinary perspectives.

Topics covered by the special issue may include, but are not limited to:

  • State-of-the-art academic thinking about the relation between open government data, transparency, and the different levels of citizen participation;
  • Case studies of the drivers and barriers that public sector organizations face in ‘opening up’ data in a citizen friendly way;
  • Theoretical and practical explorations on citizen-friendly data communication and data visualization;
  • Historical accounts of the relation between open government data, transparency and citizen participation/empowerment;
  • Analyses of legal frameworks involving open government data and data re-use from the perspective of citizen participation;
  • Mechanisms and measures for assessing open government data impacts on citizen participation;
  • Theoretical and empirical analyses of approaches to open government data that enhance citizen understanding

Important dates for the publication of this special issue are as follows:



Deadlines Special Issue

Call for abstracts

February 1 2022

Deadline abstract submission

June 10 2022

Invitation to submit full paper (= accept abstracts)

June 20 2022

Deadline submission full manuscript

October 10 2022

Review process

November ‘22 - January ‘23

Final decision on manuscripts

February 1 2023

Anticipated publication

Summer 2023 (issue 2)


Abstracts should initially be sent to Shirley Kempeneer (s.kempeneer@tilburguniversity.edu) by June 20th, 2022. Abstracts should be up to 750 words and include the names of all authors and their institutional affiliations.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Guest Editors of the Special Issue. This review will focus on the fit with the special issue theme, feasibility and potential contribution to knowledge. The authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit full manuscripts. Full manuscripts will be double-blind peer reviewed. Please note that initial acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee acceptance and publication of the final manuscript.

Final manuscripts have to be submitted directly through IP’s submission system and needs to adhere to the journals submission guidelines: www.informationpolity.com/guidelines  

About Information Polity

Information Polity is a tangible expression of the increasing awareness that Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) have become of deep significance for all polities as new technology-enabled forms of government, governing and democratic practice are sought or experienced throughout the world. This journal positions itself in these contexts, seeking to be at the forefront of thought leadership and debate about emerging issues, impact, and implications of government and democracy in the information age.

More information: https://www.informationpolity.com/

Author Instructions

Instructions for authors for manuscript format and citation requirements can be found at:


Special Issue Editors:

Shirley Kempeneer, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, The Netherlands (s.kempeneer@tilburguniversity.edy)

Dr. Shirley Kempeneer is an assistant professor at Tilburg University. Her main research focus is big data in the public sector. This includes topics on open government data, digital transformation, and algorithmic regulation.

Johan Wolswinkel, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, The Netherlands (c.j.wolswinkel@tilburguniversity.edy)

Prof. Dr. Johan Wolswinkel is Full Professor of Administrative Law, Market & Data. His research focuses on the regulation of administrative decision making, varying from competitive decision-making to data-driven and algorithmic decision-making.


Andraško, J., & Mesarčík, M. (2018). Quo Vadis Open data? Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, 12(2), 179–219.

Arnstein, S. R. (1969). A Ladder Of Citizen Participation. Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/01944366908977225, 35(4), 216–224. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944366908977225

Gil-Garcia, J. R., Gasco-Hernandez, M., & Pardo, T. A. (2020). Beyond Transparency, Participation, and Collaboration? A Reflection on the Dimensions of Open Government. Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/15309576.2020.1734726, 43(3), 483–502. https://doi.org/10.1080/15309576.2020.1734726

Janssen, M., Charalabidis, Y., & Zuiderwijk, A. (2012). Benefits, Adoption Barriers and Myths of Open Data and Open Government. Http://Dx.Doi.Org/10.1080/10580530.2012.716740, 29(4), 258–268. https://doi.org/10.1080/10580530.2012.716740

Meijer, A. J., Curtin, D., & Hillebrandt, M. (2012). Open government: connecting vision and voice: Http://Dx.Doi.Org/10.1177/0020852311429533, 78(1), 10–29. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852311429533

Moon, M. J. (2019). Shifting from Old Open Government to New Open Government: Four Critical Dimensions and Case Illustrations. Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/15309576.2019.1691024, 43(3), 535–559. https://doi.org/10.1080/15309576.2019.1691024

Nugroho, R. P., Zuiderwijk, A., Janssen, M., & de Jong, M. (2015). A comparison of national open data policies: lessons learned. Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, 9(3), 286–308. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-03-2014-0008

Schnell, S. (2016). From information to predictability: transparency on the path to democratic governance. The case of Romania: Https://Doi.Org/10.1177/0020852316648756, 84(4), 692–710. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852316648756