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Online Data, Documentation of

Since the 1990s, researchers have increasingly relied on data publicly available through the Internet. With the growth of social media, opportunities have expanded to collect and document massive quantities of information produced by and about people, things, and their interactions. Many communication studies now include content analyses of blogs, both personal and political, analyses of tweets, and posts on online discussion boards and forums. The advantage of online data is that it is often “naturally” created by Internet users. Online data can uncover users’ attitudes and behaviors more accurately, considering that users are not subject to providing socially desirable answers as they may be when participating in traditional focus groups or surveys. This entry discusses advantages and challenges of online data documentation, as well as ...

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