Digital methods as mainstream methodology
Digital methods (i.e. use of online and digital technologies to collect and analyse research data), have been utilised by a variety of disciplines. In an era in which social life is increasingly played out online, such methods offer different ways of asking new questions and generating new data. However, digital methods raise some concerns for researchers, such as maintaining ethical research practices, avoiding unrecognised biases, and keeping up with the pace of contemporary technological developments. Despite over a decade of innovation and some notable achievements digital methods have yet to be accepted into the mainstream.
This network for methodological innovation aimed to build capacity in the research community to address the opportunities and challenges that digitally inspired methods present for social research. Through a series of three seminars, it brought together researchers from a range of disciplines and career stages to map out, engage with and advance current debates in digital methods; showcase a cross-disciplinary range of contemporary social science research projects that effectively and innovatively utilise digital methods; and, identify future roles for such methods within the mainstream of social research.
The objectives for this network were:
- To inspire social researchers to deploy relevant, effective, innovative, digital methods, via a series of three open seminars;
- To identify future training needs so that the wider social science community can make use of digital methods;
- To foster networks for sharing of expertise between social scientists from a variety of disciplines and career stages, and computer and information scientists; and
- To provide networking and dissemination opportunities and provide a space to share expertise for researchers at all career stages.
Listen to the project collaborators talk about the network and digital methods in social research.
The first seminar was on 9th July, in Bristol.
The second seminar took place on December 7th 2012 at the British Library.
The third seminar took place on 15 March 2013 at the University of Manchester.
The project's final report 'Digital Methods as Mainstream Methodology: Building capacity in the research community to address the challenges and opportunities presented by digitally inspired methods' is available online.
Dr Stephen Roberts
University of Southampton