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.

Introduction and Overview

Peter HalfpennyRob Procter

1.1 Introduction

The dramatic increase over the last two decades or so in computing power, in wired and wireless connectivity, and in the availability of data has affected all aspects of our lives. Our aim in this book is to provide an accessible introduction to how social science researchers are harnessing innovations in digital technologies to transform their research methods. In this chapter we provide an overview of how and why e-Research methods have emerged, including an account of the drivers that have motivated their development and the barriers to their successful adoption. The chapters that follow examine how innovations in digital technologies are enabling the emergence of more powerful research infrastructure, services and tools, and how social science researchers ...

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