Web Survey Bibliography

Title Social Media in Public Opinion Research: Report of the AAPOR Task Force on Emerging Technologies in Public Opinion Research
Source AAPOR
Year 2014
Access date 04.06.2014
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Abstract Public opinion research is entering a new era, one in which traditional survey research may play a less dominant role. The proliferation of new technologies, such as mobile devices and social media platforms, are changing the societal landscape across which public opinion researchers operate. As these technologies expand, so does access to users’ thoughts, feelings and actions expressed instantaneously, organically, and often publicly across the platforms they use. The ways in which people both access and share information about opinions, attitudes, and behaviors have gone through perhaps a greater transformation in the last decade than in any previous point in history and this trend appears likely to continue. The ubiquity of social media and the opinions users express on social media provide researchers with new data collection tools and alternative sources of qualitative and quantitative information to augment or, in some cases, provide alternatives to more traditional data collection methods.  The reasons to consider social media in public opinion and survey research are no different than those of any alternative method. We are ultimately concerned with answering research questions, and this often requires the collection of data in one form or another. This may involve the analysis of data to obtain qualitative insights or quantitative estimates. The quality of data and ability to help accurately answer research questions is of paramount concern. Other practical considerations include the cost efficiency of the method and speed at which the data can be collected, analyzed, and disseminated. If the combination of data quality, cost efficiency, and timeliness required by a study can best be achieved through the use of social media, then there is reason to consider these methods for research. An additional reason to consider social media in public opinion and survey research is its explosion in popularity over the last several years. At a time when many are eschewing landline telephones (Blumberg and Luke, 2013) or actively taking steps to prevent unsolicited contact (e.g. caller ID, restricted access buildings), many are now communicating and interacting online via social networking sites. It is only natural for researchers to aim to meet potential respondents where they have the best chance of getting their attention and potentially gaining their cooperation. However, this brave new world is not without its share of issues and pitfalls – technological, statistical, methodological, and ethical, and much remains to be investigated. As the leading association of public opinion research professionals, AAPOR is uniquely situated to examine and assess the potential impact of new “emerging technologies” on the broader discipline and industry of opinion research. In September 2012, AAPOR Council approved the formation of the Emerging Technologies Task Force with the goal of focusing on two critical areas: smartphones as data collection vehicles and social media as platform and information source. The current report focuses on social media; a companion report covers mobile data collection.  This report examines the potential impact of social media on public opinion research – as a vehicle for facilitating some aspect of the survey research process (i.e., questionnaire development, recruitment, locating, etc.) and/or augmenting or replacing traditional survey research methods (i.e., content analysis of existing data). We distinguish between qualitative insights and quantitative indicators from social media and discuss the factors that must be evaluated to determine its fitness for use.
Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeReports, seminars
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Web survey bibliography - 2014 (332)

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