TED-On: A Total Error Framework for Digital Traces of Human Behavior on Online Platforms [article]

Indira Sen, Fabian Floeck, Katrin Weller, Bernd Weiss, Claudia Wagner
2021 arXiv   pre-print
Peoples' activities and opinions recorded as digital traces online, especially on social media and other web-based platforms, offer increasingly informative pictures of the public. They promise to allow inferences about populations beyond the users of the platforms on which the traces are recorded, representing real potential for the Social Sciences and a complement to survey-based research. But the use of digital traces brings its own complexities and new error sources to the research
more » ... e. Recently, researchers have begun to discuss the errors that can occur when digital traces are used to learn about humans and social phenomena. This article synthesizes this discussion and proposes a systematic way to categorize potential errors, inspired by the Total Survey Error (TSE) Framework developed for survey methodology. We introduce a conceptual framework to diagnose, understand, and document errors that may occur in studies based on such digital traces. While there are clear parallels to the well-known error sources in the TSE framework, the new "Total Error Framework for Digital Traces of Human Behavior on Online Platforms" (TED-On) identifies several types of error that are specific to the use of digital traces. By providing a standard vocabulary to describe these errors, the proposed framework is intended to advance communication and research concerning the use of digital traces in scientific social research.
arXiv:1907.08228v4 fatcat:vrrkbdnp3rhqnahh25uktiow6m