Mannheim Research Colloquium on Survey Methods (MaRCS): Building Bridges: Toward a Paradigm for Making Collective Sense of Diverse Data Streams

20.02.2024 - 10:00 to 11:00
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
Josh Pasek
Lecturer affiliation: 
University of Michigan


A central goal for social scientific research is understanding how publics at large think and behave. In recent years, this task has simultaneously become both easier and more challenging. New windows into behaviors—in the forms of social media data, digital traces, and soon tools like person recognition—offer insight into facets of human action free of interventions and even individuals’ capacity to self-report. Yet extracting value from these datasets requires that we understand both how data generating processes differ from one source to another and how what we observe relates to what we wish to describe. The problem emerges in our attempts to map the understandings we get to the population more broadly. As the costs of probability-based data collections continue to increase and new restrictions limit the data available from social media platforms, we are increasingly being stymied in our attempts simultaneously link datasets with one-another and with the target population.

In this talk, I lay out some of the challenges we are facing, how I expect them to shape our ability to make sense of novel data collections, and propose a research paradigm for “bridge-building.” The goal of this effort is to formally map distinctions between data streams and to identify when various types of distinctions would lead researchers to different conclusions. I discuss a series of studies that use different levels of data linkage (e.g. individual, geographic, temporal) to highlight some of these distinctions and provide an initial conceptual map of parameters researchers should consider when using multiple data sources either individually or collectively to make population inferences.

Please use this link to attend the colloquium via Zoom:

MaRCS is a seminar series jointly organized by the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), the University of Mannheim School of Social Sciences, and GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences.

You can sign-up to the MaRCS mailing list here to receive invitations to the upcoming seminars.