Study of the Internet and related ICTs provides new opportunities and challenges for social science research methods. The Digital Social Research (DSR) component of the MSc programme introduces students to the knowledge and skills of value to the conduct and critical evaluation of empirical research on the social shaping of the Internet and its societal implications, as well as introducing the Internet and related digital technologies as tools for social research.
Students will learn:
- The significance of alternative methodological approaches that provide the context for theory construction, research design, and the selection of appropriate analytical techniques;
- To conduct and manage all stages of the research process from developing research questions and hypotheses to disseminating findings;
- How to devise appropriate research questions and research designs;
- Analytical and interpretive skills for a range of quantitative and qualitative approaches to data collection; and
- How to use online tools that support the research process (e.g. from statistical software to computer-assisted qualitative analyses).
Outline of Core and Optional Components
There are six components to the Digital Social Research element of the degree, accounting for 25% of the final mark for the year. All students must take DSR Methods Core and DSR Statistics Core in Michaelmas term. Students will then select four four-week methods option courses taught in Hilary term (two from Group A, two from Group B), each focusing on advanced methods topics. A provisional list of DSR option papers includes (as of September 2014):
Option Papers Group A (Weeks 1-4, Hilary Term)
- Accessing Research Data from the Social Web
- Advanced statistics for Internet research, part 1
- Experimental Approaches
- Wrangling data
- Digital Ethnography
- Digital Interviewing
Option Papers Group B (Weeks 6-9, Hilary Term)
- Advanced statistics for Internet research, part 2
- Simulating Society
- CAQDAS and the Internet
- Metrics, Measurement, and Online Visibility
- Information Visualisation
- Big Data Analytics
Students can also take any option from a relevant paper from another University of Oxford Social Sciences Division Masters programme (with the permission of the course convenors).