Chapter 9 – Visualization in e-Social Science

Mike Thelwall

This chapter draws upon the experience of the Information Science field of Webometrics to describe the problems and techniques involved when collecting and visualising data about the internet. Social science research based upon the raw data from search engines is in the unprecedented position of being granted free access to a huge heterogeneous corpus of information (the web) but needing some technical computing knowledge to fully understand the data and to extract it efficiently. One of the strange aspects of search engine based research is that the needs of researchers are peripheral to the aims of search engine owners and so the information delivered by search engines can be frustratingly unreliable or difficult to interpret effectively. In addition, key search capabilities are sometimes introduced or removed with little notice.