• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Political Communication, Sociology, Digital Humanities, Politics
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Robert Ackland
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2021
    See Future Offerings

The Internet is increasingly a source of data for social science research and this course provides students with training in quantitative and qualitative online research methods for social research. The course covers unobtrusive/non-reactive methods involving socially-generated digital trace data (networks and text) from sources such as websites, social networking sites such as Facebook and microblogs such as Twitter. Obtrusive/reactive social research methods are also covered, including both quantitative methods (online surveys, online experiments) and qualitative methods (online focus groups and interviews, online field research).

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. compare online research methods to methods traditionally used by social scientists;
  2. locate available tools and data for online research;
  3. collect digital trace data and conduct basic social network and text analysis;
  4. conduct qualitative online research; and
  5. understand the advantages and disadvantages of various online research methods, and their ethical implications.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Computer lab assignment: Basic social network analysis using R, 500 words (10) [LO 3]
  2. Computer lab assignment: Basic text analysis using R, 500 words (10) [LO 3]
  3. Computer lab assignment: Collection and analysis of digital trace data, 1500 words (30) [LO 1,2,3,5]
  4. Critical review of qualitative online research methods paper, 750 words (15) [LO 1,4,5]
  5. Designing of research project involving qualitative online methods, and troubleshoot potential problem, 1000 words (20) [LO 1,4,5]
  6. Online test reviewing online research methods, 750 words (15) [LO 1,3,4,5]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of Computer (COMP), Criminology (CRIM), Political Science (POLS), Social Research (SOCR) or Sociology (SOCY) courses, or with permission of the convenor. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed SOCY6169.

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Halfpenny, P. and Procter, R. (2015). Innovations in Digital Research Methods, London: SAGE Publications.

Ackland, R. (2013). Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age, London: SAGE Publications.

Salganik, M. (2016). Bit By Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, http://www.bitbybitbook.com.

Dicks, B. (2012): Digital Qualitative Research Methods (SAGE Benchmarks in Social Research Methods Series), London: SAGE Publications.

Graham, T. and Ackland, R. (2015). SocialMediaLab - an R package for collecting and constructing networks from social media data. https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/SocialMediaLab/index.html



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $4890
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
6629 26 Jul 2021 02 Aug 2021 14 Sep 2021 29 Oct 2021 In Person View

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