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Web Social Science
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Web Social Science
Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age



© 2013 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"Although written simply enough to be accessible to undergraduates, accomplished scholars are likely to appreciate it too. Reading it taught me quite a lot about a subject I thought I knew rather well."
- Paul Vogt, Illinois State University

"This book brings the art and science of building and applying innovative online research tools to students and faculty across the social sciences."
- William H. Dutton, University of Oxford

A comprehensive guide to the theory and practice of web Social Science. This book demonstrates how the web is being used to collect social research data, such as online surveys and interviews, as well as digital trace data from social media environments, such as Facebook and Twitter. It also illuminates how the advent of the web has led to traditional social science concepts and approaches being combined with those from other scientific disciplines, leading to new insights into social, political and economic behaviour.

Situating social sciences in the digital age, this book aids:

  • understanding of the fundamental changes to society, politics and the economy that have resulted from the advent of the web
  • choice of appropriate data, tools and research methods for conducting research using web data
  • learning how web data are providing new insights into long-standing social science research questions
  • appreciation of how social science can facilitate an understanding of life in the digital age

It is ideal for students and researchers across the social sciences, as well as those from information science, computer science and engineering who want to learn about how social scientists are thinking about and researching the web.

 
Chapter 1. Introduction
 
PART ONE: WEB SOCIAL SCIENCE METHODS
 
Chapter 2. Online Research Methods
Dimensions and Modes of Online Research  
Online Surveys  
Online Interviews and Focus Groups  
Web Content Analysis  
Social Media Network Analysis  
Online Experiments  
Online Field Research  
Digital Trace Data: Ethics  
 
Chapter 3. Social Media Networks
Social Networks: Concepts and Definitions  
Social Network Analysis  
Social Media Networks  
Social Networks, Information Networks and Communication Networks  
SNA Metrics for the Example School Friendship Network (advanced)  
 
Chapter 4. Hyperlink Networks
Hyperlink Networks: Background  
Three Disciplinary Perspectives on Hyperlink Networks  
Tools for Hyperlink Network Research  
 
PART TWO: WEB SOCIAL SCIENCE EXAMPLES
 
Chapter 5. Friendship Formation and Social Influence
Homophily in Friendship Formation  
Social Influence  
 
Chapter 6. Organisational Collective Behaviour
Collective Behaviour on the Web: Background  
Collective Action and Public Goods  
Networked Social Movements  
 
Chapter 7. Politics and Participation
Visibility of Political Information  
Social and Political Engagement  
Political Homophily  
An Introduction to Power Laws (advanced)  
 
Chapter 8. Government and Public Policy
Delivery of Information to Citizens  
Government Authority  
Public Policy Modelling  
 
Chapter 9. Production and Collaboration
Peer Production and Information Public Goods  
Scholarly Activity and Communication  
Network Structure and Achievement  
 
Chapter 10. Commerce and Marketing
Distribution of Product Sales  
Influence in Markets  

The benefit-and the challenge- of this ambitious volume is that the author considers not only how web data are providing new insights into existing social science research questions, but also how social science can contribute to an understanding of life in the digital era...Overall, Ackland has much to offer researchers seeking to conduct Web social science research: in both the methods section and a section composed of concrete, useful examples, he examines varied research designs, tools and data types from diverse social science perspectives. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and research/faculty.

A.I. Piper
New College of Florida

As a relative novice to web-based social research, I have been searching for a book that explains the concepts and different methodologies in accessible language; gives examples demonstrating the practical application of web methods; and does not neglect academic rigour and ethics. This one ticks all those boxes…Ackland’s book is comprehensive and, despite the technical topic, easy to read and understand. The book is particularly valuable for those new to web social science, while it will serve as a handy reference for those with experience in the field.

Christine Bertram, research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies
SRA Research Matters

An innovative book that is helpful for understanding new research questions on the impact of online networks and Internet use. This book can easily convince the reader of the importance of Internet-related research topics [and] it is a textbook that all students in social sciences would be able to read.

Thierry Penard
Economic Record - The Economic Society of Australia

It´s a really interesting book, for Social Investigators as it is very updated and refers to new digital methodologies.
The book includes aspects related with creation and collection of data trough web, as well as aspects related with analysis, including cualitative and quantitative methodology, so it is a very complete and recomended book.
It includes a 2nd part with a lot of web social science examples, that are really useful for students and all level social investigators.

Dr Marian Ispizua
Sociology, Universidad del Pams Vasco
February 24, 2015

I am no longer in charge of the module but I alerted a colleague about the book as I think it is a very good introduction to the subject.

Dr Monika Metykova
School of Media, Sussex University
December 9, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


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ISBN: 9781849204828
ISBN: 9781849204811

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