Research Design in Social Data Science

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What you'll learn

What you'll learn

What you'll learn on this self-paced online course

Utilizing big data is becoming increasingly important in social research, but it brings an array of ethical challenges and research design elements to consider. On this course, you’ll gain an understanding of the emerging field of social data science and take your first steps into the big data-driven approach to research, learning from recent examples of social data science publications and projects.

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Understand the relationship between empirical research, theory generation and testing

  • Define and formulate research problems, questions and hypotheses to be tested

  • Understand the rationale for using qualitative or quantitative research methods and the integrated or complementary nature between different methods in mixed methods research designs

  • Understand different forms of sampling, sampling error, and case selection, and their potential implications when interpreting findings

  • Apply concepts of generalisability, validity, reliability, and replicability

  • Understand ethical aspects of social data science and how to cope with them

3 - 6 hours to learn
3 months access


$[[price]] USD

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Course modules

Course modules

There are five modules in this course

1. What is social data science?

In this module you will be introduced to social data science and be familiarized with both social data science and scientific methods.

2. How do you determine the design elements and data sources of a research project?

In this module you will learn how to determine the main parameters of a research project including boundaries, scale and time resolution of your research, what big data is, how it differs to traditional data collection and what consent refers to.

3. What methods can we use in social data science?

In this module you will become familiarized with the toolset of social data science, covering both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.

4. What can be learnt from your research?

In this module you will learn to develop research questions and hypotheses, be familiarized with validity, reproducibility, replicability and generalisability.

5. What is ethical social data science?

In this module you will be familiarized with the main ethical challenges in social data science and how to cope with them.



What our learners say about SAGE Campus courses






The course is introductory so no prior knowledge of social data science is required. However, it requires some familiarity with social science research.

Not sure where to start or which course to take next? Check out our handy learning pathways.



Frequently asked questions

Do I need any software to complete this course?

No specific software is needed to take this course. You simply need a laptop or PC and an internet connection.

How long will I have access to the course for?

You have access to the course for 3 months.

How many hours should I spend leearning every week?

You can take the course at whatever pace you choose over the 3 month access period. The course takes between 3-6 hours to complete, so you have plenty of time to fit it around your lifestyle.

How is the course structured?

The course contains 5 modules and it’s recommended that they are followed sequentially, however, the modules are self-contained and you may decide to skip if preferred.

Do learners get a certificate?

All of our courses offer a certificate of completion signed by your instructor. You will be able to download this certificate, from the Learning Platform, when you complete the course.

Is the course theoretical and conceptual or are exercise based?

The course is primarily conceptual, however, there are many hands-on examples, thought experiments and exercises.

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