This concluding chapter offers critical reflections on some of the key themes covered in the Handbook. Ethics emerged as a concern for many scholars, both for those engaging in quantitative and qualitative approaches. Scholars agree in that there is no overarching set of rules that can be applied to all projects blindly, rather they see ethical decisions as being grounded in the specifics of the data being collected, the social group under study, and the potential repercussions for subjects. A second central theme was the value of qualitative approaches for understanding ‘anomalies’ within larger data sets. Qualitative approaches are seen as valuable and a stand-alone means of collecting, analyzing and making sense of social media data, in particular for projects where context is essential. Finally, as the contributions in this volume demonstrate that many of the challenges posed by the nature of social media data are being tackled and addressed, this chapter ends with a reorientation of the 6Vs which focuses on the primacy of the researcher in the decision-making process. We argue that the provision of technical solutions alone do not entirely address the 6V problem and clarity of thought around research design is still just as important as ever.
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Citation of this paper:
Sloan, L., & Quan-Haase, A. (2017). A retrospective on state of the art social media research methods: Ethical decisions, big-small data rivalries and the spectre of the 6Vs. In L. Sloan & A. Quan-Haase (Eds.), The handbook of social media research methods (pp. 662–672). Sage