Skip to content

Understanding the production and circulation of social media data: toward methodological principles and praxis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3341-3358
JournalNew Media and Society
Issue number9
Early online date31 Dec 2017
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Dec 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Dec 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Sep 2018


Social media data have provoked a mixed response from researchers. While there is great enthusiasm for this new source of social data – Twitter data in particular – concerns are also expressed about their biases and unknown provenance and, consequently, their credibility for social research. This article seeks a middle path, arguing that we must develop better understanding of the construction and circulation of social media data to evaluate their appropriate uses and the claims that might be made from them. Building on sociotechnical approaches, we propose a high-level abstraction of the ‘pipeline’ through which social media data are constructed and circulated. In turn, we explore how this shapes the populations and samples that are present in social media data and the methods that generate data about them. We conclude with some broad principles for supporting methodologically informed social media research in the future.

    Structured keywords

  • Digital Societies

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (accepted author manuscript)

    Rights statement: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Sage at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 390 KB, PDF document

    Licence: Other


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups