Vast amounts of digital data are now generated daily by people as they go about their lives, yet social researchers are struggling to exploit it. At the same time, the challenges faced by society in the 21st century are growing ever more complex, and demands research that is bigger in scale, more collaborative and multi-disciplinary than ever before. This cutting-edge volume provides an accessible introduction to innovative digital social research tools and methods that harness this ‘data deluge’ and successfully tackle key research challenges. Contributions from leading international researchers cover topics such as:  • Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research  • Data management  • Social media and social network analysis  • Modeling and simulation  • Survey methods  • Visualizing social data  • Ethics and e-research  • The future of social research in the digital age This vibrant introduction to innovative digital research methods is essential reading for anyone conducting social research today.

Contemporary Developments in Statistical Software for Social Scientists

Paul S. LambertWilliam J. BrowneDanius T. Michaelides

7.1 Introduction

This chapter provides a brief review of statistical software applications in social science research, before describing and illustrating some exciting new developments in interoperability and documentation that have emerged from recent technologically oriented projects.

7.1.1 Background on Statistical Software in Social Research

In broad terms, statistical software, as it is used for social science applications, tends to feature three elements. It supports mechanisms for accessing, storing and (if required) modifying social science datasets (both with regard to the data itself, and metadata about the data, such as informative names and coding labels for variables); it features facilities such as mathematical algorithms which allow operations and statistical analyses to be applied to ...

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