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Scrutinizing the use of online data: A critical study of the use of online forum texts in research
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Internet has given researchers a convenient and accessible tool for collecting data. It enables researchers to find natural occurring language that gives them the opportunity to save time and partake of various advantages the Internet has to offer. Web forums are deep and complex message boards occupied by online communities. These web forums are a rich source for collecting naturally occurring language that can be used for various sorts of research. Several researchers have shown that these web forums have a generous amount of advantages when used as data (Yates, 1996; Hsiung, 2000; Joinson, 2001; Im & Chee, 2006; Newhagen & Rafaeli, 2006; Misoch, 2015). However, it is equally important to understand the nature of the flaws that web forum texts as data may have. The notion of anonymity and the overrepresentation of a certain demographic groups may mislead incautious researchers collecting data from web forums.

This paper aims to analyse several research articles which uses web forum texts as data within two different disciplines, health and social care and linguistics, in addition to classifying them as either high-stakes or low-stakes research. The goal is to investigate how researchers handle possible limitations and risks of such data. Initial results showed that high-stakes are more thorough when discussing and reporting concerns regarding their data. Evidently, health and social care high-stakes research articles reported more concerns than linguistics research articles. Several recommendations based on these results were made in the end of the paper for researchers to use when conducting research based on web forum texts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 19 p.
Keyword [en]
web forums, genre analysis, data analysis, literature review
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126169OAI: diva2:897591
Available from: 2016-01-29 Created: 2016-01-26 Last updated: 2016-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Collantes, Sebastian
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