The Internet is revolutionizing how empirical research is conducted across the social sciences. Without the need for intermediaries, individual researchers can now conduct large-scale experiments on human participants, longitudinal surveys of rare populations, A/B tests on social media, and more. In this course, you will learn how to harness these opportunities while avoiding the many pitfalls of online research. The course is tailored for researchers in psychology, economics, business, and any other area of academia or industry who investigate human behavior.
We will cover the nuts and bolts of conducting “lab” experiments on alternative Internet platforms, including techniques to maximize the validity and reproducibility of research findings. We will also discuss how to unlock the potential of the Internet for more elaborate, richer designs (e.g., longitudinal, interactive) that go beyond simple survey experiments. Additionally, we will teach you how to scrape publicly available information and to conduct “field” experiments on social media, gathering real-world, immediately applicable insights about consumers, workers, and Internet users more generally. Importantly, technical and practical insights will explicitly serve the goal to improve the rigor and the publishability of participants’ own research. To this end, we will include discussions on whether and how to combine online and offline investigations, how to preregister and report online research in a paper, and more.
The course relies on a mix of discussions, demonstrations, and exercises that use participants’ own research needs and projects as starting points. At the end of the week, participants will be fully equipped to design, execute, and report valid online research for their own investigations.