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The Internet and the future of social science research.

Fischer, M. and Lyon, S. and Zeitlyn, D. (2008) 'The Internet and the future of social science research.', in The Sage handbook of online research methods. London: Sage, pp. 519-536.


This chapter considers the impact that the Internet and related communications technologies (IRCT) will have on the possibilities and prospects for new generations of social scientists. Contemporary and future developments will advance the scale of research activities that are feasible and the kinds of subjects that are 'researchable'. The opportunities and challenges posed by the Internet and related communications technologies will be driven both by changes in societies and advances in our methods, increasing capacity to do some of the same things either better or on a larger scale and to do new things in relation to data collection, analysis and dissemination. Amongst the issues the chapter considers are the likely implications for new kinds of research relationship, ways of dealing with increased amounts of potential data, responses to associated ethical issues, the potential for social science use of 'smart' technological assistants, and what further technologicalchanges may be on the way. A useful heuristic is the typology of probably, possible, improbably and (probably) impossible applications of IRCT over the coming years. The chapter considers candidates for each category, their relationship to present practice , and the kinds of skills that are likely to be required on the part of new generations of social science researchers.

Item Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Internet, Social sciences, Research methods, Communications technologies.
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Publisher statement:© 2008 Sage Publications Ltd
Record Created:12 Jan 2009
Last Modified:07 Oct 2010 09:58

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