A guide to understanding digital research from both a conceptual and practical perspective, helping the reader to make sense of the issues, challenges and opportunities of social science research in the digital age. The book will help the reader to understand how the digital context impacts on social science research and is divided into three main sections: • A Justification & Reconceptualization of Digital Research: The authors explore how far the digital environment is transforming social science research. • Accessing Digital Data: An outline of the characteristics of digital data, temporality issues in digital research and different data sources. • Moving Forward with Digital Research: Examining the practicalities of how to conduct digital research, with examples and suggestions to strengthen the implementation of digital research. Suitable for Masters and Doctoral students undertaking digital or online research methods courses, as well as anyone doing a research project or dissertation with an online component.

Digital Research as a Phenomenon and a Method

Digital Research as a Phenomenon and a Method

In this chapter we will:

  • identify what is digital research
  • explain why it matters
  • outline the structure of the book.

Introduction and Scope

As researchers, we can take an optimistic and open, or pessimistic and closed, stance on the use and application of digital technologies for research (Marres, 2012). We can choose to see new technologies as opening up new possibilities of discovery or we can choose to see research and the development of insight as being endangered by a technological shift over which researchers are powerless; a new world where human involvement is lost and research is conducted, analysed and results implemented by ‘smart’ connected technology. Whichever perspective you hold, or perhaps you are agnostic in your views, this ...

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