ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Social media as a data collection tool: the impact of Facebook in behavioural research

Eloise Zoppos

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 1 - Law Building, Room 024
Date: 2012-07-11 01:30 PM – 03:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-06-19


Internet-related technologies are often used in various stages of behavioural research, particularly data collection. For example, the Internet allows researchers to collect data via online surveys, synchronous focus groups, and email interviews. Although they do have their limitations, these methods allow researchers to collect data in a timely and cost-effective manner. Additionally, these methods can often minimise any potential sensitivity or confidentiality issues by offering increased anonymity. With the advent and proliferation of social media platforms such as Facebook, researchers are now able to capitalise on another possible method of online data collection. In this paper, the potential uses of Facebook in various stages of data collection are discussed. These include using the site as a recruitment tool via group notices and paid advertising, and also using the site to collect observational and ethnographical data. This paper will conclude with suggestions on how best to utilise the site in the research process given the potential limitations and ethical considerations associated with its use.

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