YouTube as an innovative resource for social science research
Jang, SH, YouTube as an innovative resource for social science research, Proceedings of the 2011 Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 27 November - 1 December 2011, Hobart, Tasmania, pp. 1-16. ISSN 1324-9320 (2011) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Conceived in 2005, YouTube - a video sharing platform based on Web 2.0 technology - has been extensively used in social studies research and practice. Recently, an increasing number of researchers have turned their attention to YouTube. They have used YouTube in selecting samples and collecting multimodal data for social studies, and examine YouTube or its users in case studies (Harley & Fitzpatrick, 2009; Vergani & Zuev, 2011). Although Thacker and Dayton (2008) assert that such Web 2.0 research has paved new ways for online research that can achieve its aims ideally, a systematic foundation in terms of theory and practice for research through and about YouTube remains sketchy. Some researchers have considered YouTube as a branch of Web 2.0 research, but most of them have not gone beyond the theoretical discussion (Flick, 2009; Snee, 2008). Very often pre-existing data on the website are considered as lacking authenticity and trustworthiness, and data collection from YouTube is - perhaps mistakenly - perceived as a simple and easy process. However, YouTube, with all its benefits, pitfalls and challenges, is now recognised as a sophisticated research resource which requires researchers to employ sensitive and professional judgements to ensure its efficient exploitation.
In order to offer an efficient guide for researchers in studies concerned with YouTube, this paper firstly introduces the medium and describes reasons for its popularity to create a general understanding of why YouTube can be an effective tool in social research. It then goes on to discuss the challenges confronted by researchers, teachers, and students when using YouTube as a resource for their public or personal studies. Lastly, the paper describes the benefits of the medium as a research tool and makes suggestions as to how YouTube can effectively be utilised to produce high quality data. This paper will be of interest to social researchers, particularly those interested in Web 2.0 research, ethics and copyright policies in Web research.
Refereed Conference Paper
YouTube, Web 2.0, social media research, ethical challenges, Web research design, Internet research resources