2.9 Big Data: Challenges for Social Scientists

  • Need advanced and new skills for capturing, collecting, storing, manipulating and analyzing often un/semi-structured big datasets
    • e.g. interacting with APIs, machine learning, social network analysis
  • Our advantage… theory
    • Computer scientists dominate field of big social data but more rarely come up with good questions/explanations
  • Big data requires same standards as “small” data (Grimmer 2015)
    • Careful research design, sampling strategy, measurement etc.


Grimmer, Justin. 2015. “We Are All Social Scientists Now: How Big Data, Machine Learning, and Causal Inference Work Together.” PS Polit. Sci. Polit. 48 (1). Cambridge University Press: 80–83.