Approaches to Auditing Search Engines for Social Science Research


Search platforms, like Google Search and Bing, act as mediators of knowledge carrying out many of the basic functions that form life and discourse online. These algorithmically mediated platforms determine the how, what, where, and when knowledge is distributed, accessed, and promoted by content producers and the public alike. While the ephemerality of these dynamic digital platforms poses real challenges, emerging methodologies like auditing offer help to social science researchers looking to take them on. Choosing to repurpose search engines for research offers valuable opportunities for generating high-quality qualitative and quantitative evidence in the analysis of the complex questions researchers may wish to tackle in social science research. This guide serves as an introduction to the field of blackbox analysis for social science research and provides an overview of approaches to data auditing of search engines.

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