Institute for Web Science and Technologies · Universität Koblenz - Landau
Institute WeST
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Seminar: Social Science Methodology in Web Science Research

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Winter Term 2014 / 2015


This course covers various (social) scientific approaches to internet research / webscience. The main aim is to provide students with a better understanding of methodology and epistemology: Which questions can be answered employing which methods? How can we gain scientific insights and further our knowledge of the web and of society based on internet data (e.g. data gathered from social media)? Social science approaches will be covered as well as the philosophical underpinnings of a science of the web – but always applied to actual projects and concrete questions. Students will be enabled to independently plan, execute and assess (empirical) studies.


Is it possible to predict election results based on Twitter data? Are Facebook friendships online, offline or both? How can we observe a discussion on reddit – and what is such a discussion representative of? Questions like these are what we will address in the seminar. On the one hand an overview will be given of social science methods (quantitative and qualitative: surveys, interviews, observation, questionnaires…) that are increasingly being employed in studies of the Web. On the other hand the seminar aims to clarify and further the understanding of the scientific and philosophical foundations on which we base insights about the Web (and those insights gained using Web data). An understanding of these foundations allows the planning and implementation of own research projects. An overview of current challenges but also of new chances and possibilities in web science research will be given. The seminar is conceptualized as an advanced course on scientific methods. The course is especially useful to students who plan to work with social media data in their Bachelor or Masters theses or who are interested in interdisciplinarity.


Date Content
13.11.2014, 12:00-14:00 Introduction / Choice of topic for presentation and essay

13.02.2015, 10:00-14:00


  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires
  • Web content analysis

Guest lecture: Experimenting in the web

26.02.2015, 10:00-17:00

Epistemology & Methodology

  • Social network analysis
  • Online experiments in understanding health behavior
  • Representativeness / user groups
  • Internet time
  • Elections on Twittery

16:00-17:00: Optional: Ask your essay questions

27.02.2015, 10:00-17:00

Case studies: Social media & Ethical & Legal questions

  • Wikipedia and conflict
  • Friendships on Facebook
  • Google flu trends
  • The Facebook emotion experiment
  • The Facebook college student study

16:00-17:00: Optional: Ask your essay questions


Each block session will consist of a presentation, discussion and/or group work (first half of the session) and student presentations (second half of the session).


Participants are required to give one presentation (20 minutes). After the seminar a short essay (max. 6 pages) is to be submitted that elaborates on the presentation topic. Topics for the presentation and the essay will be chosen in the introductory meeting, so that you are required to attend this meeting. Depending on the number of participants there may be team presentations.

Seminar - Social Science Methodology in Web Science Research

Veranstaltungsnummer: 04653

Termin(e) Do 12.00-16.00
A 120, KO Gebäude A