2.8 Big data: Repurposing

  • Found vs. designed data
    • “tempting to think about the contrast that I’ve set up as being between “found” data and “designed” data. That’s close, but it’s not quite right. Even though, from the perspective of researchers, big data sources are “found,” they don’t just fall from the sky. Instead, data sources that are “found” by researchers are designed by someone for some purpose. Because “found” data are designed by someone, I always recommend that you try to understand as much aspossible about the people and processes that created your data." (Salganik 2017, 16)
  • Found vs. ideal data
    • “When you are repurposing data, it is often extremely helpful to imagine the ideal dataset for your problem and then compare that ideal dataset with the one that you are using. If you didn’t collect your data yourself, there are likely to be important differences between what you want and what you have. Noticing these differences will help clarify what you can and cannot learn from the data you have, and it might suggest new data that you should collect.” (Salganik 2017, 16)


Salganik, Matthew J. 2017. Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age. Princeton University Press.