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A Formalization of the »Digital Methods« – Supporting Comprehensible Access to the Novel Web Science Research Field

  • This paper is grounded in the emerging field of web science and shall contribute to its further classification and demarcation by illustrating the current state of »web-native research methods«. It builds upon an initial arraying work of Richard Rogers, who coined the term »Digital Methods« for research with methods that were »born« in the web, and illustrated and organized them in his eponymous book in 2013. This paper attempts to develop a more appropriate illustration of the Digital Methods by following the web’s very own, hypertextual, network-like nature, in particular by construing an ontological representation on the base of the Web Ontology Language (OWL). By virtue of decomposing the book into granular information units and their subsequent reassembly into OWL entities, immediate access to the entire knowledge domain can be provided, and coherencies, interrelations and distinctions between concepts become apparent. The ontology’s structure was induced narrowly along the provided examples of research projects and subsequently clustered in topic groups, of which the three most important ones were (a) the Digital Methods as an arraying space of web-native methodology, (b) a collection of concrete applications of these Digital Methods in research projects, and (c) a hierarchical scheme of traditional sciences with a distinct interest in answering research questions with help of Digital Methods. Subsequently, the ontology was evaluated in three general dimensions: Deriving user stories and scenarios provided means to validate the utilization quality; the accuracy and reliability of the resulting structure was validated with help of a control group of web-native research projects; and process control instruments served as a validator for the ontology’s correctness. Despite the ontology itself, this paper also resulted in a first interpretation of the produced information: Statements about research practise in social science, politics and philosophy were as possible as findings about commonly applied varieties of methods. Concluding, the present paper proposes a process of ontology engineering, an evaluation of the ontology’s value, and an interpretation of the ontology’s content.

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Author:Miriam Schmitz
Referee:Kristian Fischer, Wolter Pieters
Document Type:Master's Thesis
Publishing Institution:Hochschulbibliothek der Technischen Hochschule Köln
Granting Institution:Technische Hochschule Köln
Date of Publication (online):2014/08/25
GND-Keyword:Digital Humanities; Formalisierung; Ontologie; Semantic Web
Tag:Online-Forschung; Webwissenschaft
Digital methods; Social network analysis; Web Science
Institutes:Informatik und Ingenieurwissenschaften (F10) / Fakultät 10 / Advanced Media Institute
CCS-Classification:E. Data
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft
Open Access:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell