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This self study pack will provide an introduction to digital research methods, with an emphasis on content analysis as a method of analysing digital data. Digital methods concern research that involves the collection and analysis of data taken from the internet, most often social media. Social media is now an integral part of most people’s lives and we can learn a lot about people and a variety of subjects based on social media activity. Moreover, social media continues to have a greater and greater impact on offline issues and events, and analysing a subject using digital data can grant us a unique perspective. More and more disciplines are embracing digital methods, ranging from health and social care, to political science, to psychology, to economics. This makes digital methods very versatile and it’s likely that, whatever you’re studying, digital data about this subject exists. Therefore, digital research is of growing academic interest and this self study pack will explore why and how digital research could be used in your academic career.  

The self study pack will begin by contextualising why researchers use digital methods and the benefits of using digital methods in research. People also produce a lot of data on social media, and so it can be daunting knowing where to start. You will therefore be guided through what can be learned about a user from a social media post. Images also play a key role on social media, but they are notably more complicated to understand than text. Therefore, images are examined separately to provide some ideas of how images can be approached. How data can be collected from social media is also explored and is it vital to understand the ethical issues related to digital methods before beginning your research. It is often assumed that because digital research involves the collection of publicly available social media data as part, then there are few if any ethical concerns to consider. However, digital data should be managed to the same ethical degree as other kinds of data and digital data also has some unique ethical concerns. The final portion of the self study pack is dedicated to content analysis as a method of understanding digital data. You will be guided on how to construct a content analysis code frame and then have the opportunity to produce your own findings based on real social media data.

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Self Study Pack Content

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Key InformationPoints40Effort10 hoursPrerequisitesnoneRelease Date11th May 2021
Author Info

Hi! My name is Hannah Guy and I’m a 3rd year PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University. My thesis examines the role of images in the spread of disinformation on social media. I am a member of the Visual Social Media Lab and outside of my PhD. I have been involved in projects examining the Black Lives Matter Movement, Digital literacy in education contexts, and populism on social media.