Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time
Karpf, David. A (2011) Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time. pp. 1-19. In: Proceedings of the A DECADE IN INTERNET TIME: OII SYMPOSIUM ON THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIETY, 21 September - 24 September 2011, University of Oxford.
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This paper discusses three interrelated challenges related to conducting social science research in “Internet Time.” The rate at which the Internet is both diffusing through society and also developing new capacities is unprecedented. It creates some novel challenges for scholarly research. Many of our most robust research methods are based upon ceteris paribus assumptions that do not hold in the online environment. The rate of change online narrows the range of questions that can be answered using traditional tools. Meanwhile, new research methods are untested and often rely upon data sources that are incomplete and systematically flawed. The paper details these challenges, then proposes that scholars embrace the values of transparency and kludginess in order to answer important research questions in a rapidly-changing communications environment.
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