call for papers: digital methodologies – beyond big & small data

Digital Methodologies: Beyond Big & Small Data

Session Proposal for
9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology (RC33)
September 11th – 16th, 2016, University of Leicester (

Session Organizer
Christian Bokhove, University of Southampton, United Kingdom,
Mark Carrigan, University of Warwick, United Kingdom,
Sarah Lewthwaite, University of Southampton, United Kingdom,
Richard Wiggins, Institute of Education, United Kingdom

Session Abstract
In recent years the challenge of Big Data has become a dominant theme within discussions of social science methodology. But these debates have too often been played out within a limited methodological frame of reference, in which the virtues and vices of Big Data are counterpoised or the call is made to supplement Big Data with Small Data. This stream will  critically analyse this methodological framing of Big Data, its strengths and limitations, with a view to developing digital methodologies which move beyond Big Data and Small Data. In doing so, we hope the stream will also addressed a broad range of related issues, such as:

  • The methodological challenge of big data and digital social research
  • The practical challenges of mixed methods approaches to digital social research
  • The role of theoretical ideas in digital methodologies
  • The relationship between Virtual Methods, Digital Methods, Technology Enhanced Methods etc.
  • The methodological utility of data mining and the dangers of data fishing
  • The continued utility of sampling in digital social research, for example with regard to collection methods involving Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Twitter streams.
  • What are the ethical and social implications of linking and accessing administrative data?
  • What are the implications for epistemologies, data collection and analysis of the pace of change in which social life is increasingly played out online?

The stream seeks to incorporate technical issues pertaining to digital methods into a broader discussion of the impact of digital methodologies. We are particularly keen to receive papers that reflect upon and bridge existing methods and draw out a vision for the  future of social science research and practice.

The session is organised jointly between the Independent Social Research Foundation’s Digital Social Science Forum and the International Journal of Social Research Methodology.

DEADLINE: 21st January, 2016

Submission Instructions:

1. To submit a paper abstract for the RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, you should visit: After landing on the homepage, navigate to ‘Abstract Submission’, which appears in the top left hand column of the webpage, see image below:
Abstract submissions screenshot
2. Complete the form in full. You may wish to cut and paste your abstract into the Abstract field from another document.
3. Choose the relevant session for your stream. To do so you will need to select the relevant lead session organiser from the drop-down menu highlighted in the image below. To check you are submitting to the correct session, you can view a table of sessions and session convenors by clicking the link entitled ‘View the list of sessions and session convenors’. Once complete, click submit.
Session details screenshot