Mixing methods and theory to explore Web activity
Tinati R., Halford S., Carr L., Pope C.
Web Science is now well recognized as an interdisciplinary field, drawing on research from the computational, natural and social sciences. These disciplines bring diverse theoretical and methodological approaches, providing alternative perspectives and insight into Web activity. Consequently, Web Science faces the challenge of developing research methods that transcend disciplines, not least in dealing with the epistemological tensions between different methodological approaches. As a start, this paper argues that, a mixed methods approach is required. To demonstrate the affordances of this, the activities of the UK Open Government Data community are analyzed by combining quantitative computational science techniques with qualitative social science methods underpinned by social theory. This provides a richer and more detailed analysis than either approach alone could offer and one which enables us to apprehend the Web as a complex socio-technical phenomenon. Copyright © 2012 ACM.