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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Digital and mobile technologies keep users from being lost, bored, or disconnected; they also collect unprecedented amounts of data about user behavior. These digital traces are being analyzed to enable companies to sell more and governments to identify terrorist or criminal activities. Academic social scientists are just beginning to imagine and test how these data can be used to further understanding of contemporary social life. Researchers are beginning to incorporate trace data into their studies. This chapter provides a discussion of the ethical issues particular to designing such methods, such as understanding the role of corporate data providers. It covers quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method approaches. Methods innovators must consider the ethical norms they are creating, not just the legal and ethical protocols imposed upon them. It is also essential that academic work using digital traces continue and flourish apace with the society it intends to understand and illuminate.

Keywords: research ethics, big data, trace data, quantitative methods, qualitative methods

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