Core Skills of Computational Social Science: Data Justice, Intellectual Humility, and Algorithmic Thinking


Computational social science (CSS), which brings computational approaches to social science questions, has been shown to be a powerful tool. Getting started in this interdisciplinary field requires several critical skills related to computation, scientific inquiry, and care for human subjects. Specifically, this How-to Guide outlines three essential skills for CSS research: an appreciation of data justice, intellectual humility, and an understanding of algorithmic thinking. Data justice helps ensure that CSS research not only “does no harm” but actively seeks to undo existing harm. Intellectual humility is necessary to recognize that all research involves many choices—none of which will ever be perfect. And algorithmic thinking is needed to apply computational methods to social science questions. Each of these elements is essential to doing good CSS research and could each be the subject of a guide in their own right. However, as a starting point in your CSS journey, this guide aims to introduce you to these key skills and concepts—outlining what it means to do good CSS research and providing a solid foundation on which to build future endeavors.

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