The Hidden Data of Social Media Research: 
Exploring Practices and Problems of Studying Social Media Data 
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The Hidden Data of Social Media Rearch_CSS-winter-symposium

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Poster presented at the Computational Social Science Winter Symposium, Cologne, Dec. 1st 2014.

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The Hidden Data of Social Media Rearch_CSS-winter-symposium

  1. 1. The Hidden Data of Social Media Research: Exploring Practices and Problems of Studying Social Media Data Work in progress •Investigation of social media researchers’ methods, practices, perspectives and problems. •Exploratory design: qualitative semi-structured interviews with social media researchers. •Theory building occurs in parallel to the experiences in the ‘field’. •Coding and analysis are still ongoing – preliminary results for selected topics are available. Current status •40 interviews at 5 conferences •25-40 minutes, semi-structured •Interviewees … •… with different disciplinary backgrounds. •… from: Europe (20), US (13), Australia (5), South America (1), Asia (1). •… MA students (2) to full professors. (12) •… with experiences in research based on data gathered from several platforms. Future work •More interviews planned •Additional disciplines •Detailed coding of interviews •Next topics to be analyzed: •data collection and processing •epistemology. “I love thinking about ethics” “I always feel it must be great to be a hacker!” “Oh my gosh, we have this amazing data!” “But you can’t make your data available for others to look at, which means both your study can’t really be replicated and it can’t be tested for review.” “…it is hard to have standards nowadays because the field develops so fast.” “It seems very hard, or nearly impossible, to do this kind of stuff in the future as a single or individual researcher.” “My questions are limited to what I can do. “ “I will not quote tweets” “I would like more tools for collecting data. From services that aren't Twitter.” More information: Kinder-Kurlanda, K., & Weller, K. (2014). “I always feel it must be great to be a hacker!” The role of interdisciplinary work in social media research. Proceedings of the ACM Web Science Conference 2014, Bloomington, USA 2014. Weller, K., & Kinder-Kurlanda, K (2014). “I love thinking about ethics!” Perspectives on ethics in social media research. To appear in Proceedings of Internet Research 15: Boundaries and Intersections, Deagu, South Korea 2014. Katrin Weller & Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences katrin.weller@gesis.org, katharina.kinder-kurlanda@gesis.org •Social media researchers are often interdisciplinary, sometimes operating on the „fringes“ of their home discipline. •Interdisciplinarity is perceived as a requirement for (meaningful) social media research. •For social scientists in this area interdisciplinary collaborations, especially with computer scientists, are of high importance. •Interdisciplinarity is challenged by internal factors (e.g. perceived role of individuals in projects, different methodological approaches) and external factors (e.g. requirements for journal publications or tenure). Interdisciplinarity •Almost all participants have already reflected upon privacy and anonymization, rather few consider ethics on a more abstract level. •Many researchers try to envision the users‘ expectations of privacy in order to address the issue of lack of consent – and end up with very different ideas, which also lead to different practical decisions (e.g. whether to mention user names or not). •Little knowledge of available guidelines and literature in the field of internet research ethics. Research ethics •Many social media researchers from the social sciences wish for: programming skills or access to people with such skills, tools for data collection or analysis, ready-to-use datasets/corpora. •Many researchers with different backgrounds wish for: unrestricted access to data, better data (e.g. longitudinal, data from different platforms), better documentation and transparency of data, data sharing options, data equality, better research environments. •Special wishes: better collaboration with industry, less pressure to publish / fewer journals and conferences. If you had one wish… * FIRST RESULTS * * FIRST RESULTS * * FIRST RESULTS *

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