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This introductory guidance aims to raise awareness and explore the potential of social media research. It is primarily aimed at government social researchers and analysts, but will also be of interest to policy-makers and researchers working outside of government.
The guidance discusses how social media data has a range of attributes which are not found in ‘offline’ data and how as such, new approaches and techniques are required. It covers an introduction to social media, use of social media in government, social media as a research tool and ethical considerations. The document also provides a number of working-level resources which it is hoped will guide researchers unfamiliar with the topic through their first social media research projects.
As of March 2018 we have added to the initial guidance, to include a resource which highlights key ethical and quality assurance considerations which those conducting social media research might encounter. The resource also includes descriptions of these considerations, to support those commissioning or planning projects using this data. It also includes a grid showing the relationship between these new ethical consideration and the Government Social Research ethical principles for conducting research, to highlight where traditional approaches can be taken to handling these considerations, and where new approaches may have to be developed.