Authors: Gareth Morrell and Andy Scott, NatCen and Katie Metzler, SAGE

Day One – Tuesday 25th June

Strand – Innovations in Research Methods

Session Two: 2.45pm – 4.15pm

In May 2012 the National Centre for Research Methods funded NatCen Social Research, Oxford Internet Institute and SAGE to co-ordinate a cross-disciplinary network, New Social Media, New Social Science (NSMNSS)? This was a timely development: social media is everywhere and for some habitual; social science cannot be left behind in exploring the opportunities it provides to understand social attitudes, trends and behaviours.

Researchers from a whole host of disciplines and sectors are rightly excited by the scale, accessibility and efficiency of ‘Big Data’, forging new links and partnerships along the way. But methodological opportunities are always accompanied by associated challenges. As techniques for harvesting and analysing data from social media continue to develop apace, is there a danger that our research agenda is guided by the lure of technology at the expense of other considerations? The events and discussions across the last 12 months of NSMNSS have also identified a range of concerns about the ethics of using social media and the quality of the data: can researchers ensure ethical principles of informed consent, anonymity and confidentiality.

Finally, there’s a question about quality: do we know enough about if, how and why we’re different online? For social media research to do more good than harm it needs to address these questions. This paper will bring insights from the NSMNSS network activities and members on how we meet these challenges.

Please click here to download presentation.