Online Social Research
The rapid expansion of the internet has presented researchers with a range of new ways to collect data about the social world, generating important new insights into social behaviour and interaction.
This course is designed to give you an introduction to online social research, covering a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for collecting and analysing online data, and for exploring digital social phenomena. Using a combination of lectures and hands-on practical sessions, you will explore various aspects of online social research including ways to collect data, the ethics of online research and methods to analyse online data.
This course provides an overview of online research methods as deployed within contemporary social research. It will develop your critical understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches to social research, and offer you an opportunity to develop some initial practical skills in applying these approaches. We aim to give you the confidence to select methods appropriately and provide a foundation for developing your skills independently in future.
On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
- Understand the range of online social research methods currently available (C and K)
- Critically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these methods and their place in contemporary sociology (C and K)
- Appreciate the ethical issues that online social research methods raise (C, K, P and T)
- Demonstrate a practical understanding of the application of these methods (K, P and T)
- Develop research proposals that make effective and appropriate use of these methods (K, P and T).
- The emergence of digital sociology and online social research
- Online interviews and focus groups
- Administering surveys online
- Ethnography in online settings
- Multi-sited and online/offline fieldwork
- Ethics of online research
- Methods of analysing online data including a selection from:
- Social media data and NVivo
- Semiotic and content analysis
- Sentiment analysis
- Issue crawler
- Social network analysis.
Learning and teaching methods
- Class discussions
- Practical sessions working with data on paper and on the computer
- Caliandro, A. and Gandini, A. (2016). Qualitative research in digital environments: a research toolkit. Taylor & Francis.
- Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the internet: embedded, embodied and everyday. Bloomsbury Publishing.
- Marres, N. (2017). Digital sociology: The reinvention of social research. John Wiley & Sons.
Maximum of 25 people. Please note, 10 participants will be students from our MSc Social Research Methods course.
Please bring a USB memory stick if you would like to take away copies of your work.
There are no formal entry requirements for this course.
You should have some knowledge of social research methods.
Fees and funding
Fees are to be confirmed
Terms and conditions
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Course location and contact details
Campus locationStag Hill
Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Surrey
Surrey GU2 7XH