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.

Text Mining and Social Media: When Quantitative Meets Qualitative and Software Meets People

Lawrence AmpofoSimon CollisterBen O’LoughlinAndrew Chadwick

8.1 Introduction

‘At no time in history has so much of the public’s discussion… been so accessible to a wide audience and available for systematic analysis.’ (Keeter, 2012)

The ongoing production of staggeringly huge volumes of digital data is a ubiquitous part of life in the early twenty-first century. A large proportion of this data is text. This development has serious implications for almost all scholarly endeavour. It is now possible for researchers from a wide range of disciplines to use text mining techniques and software tools in their daily practice. In our own field of political communication, the prospect of cheap access to what, how, and to whom ...

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