Big Data Rich and Big Data Poor

Limited Access to Big Data is starting to create a divide in the academic world and with large companies. “'Data is the new oil...' but unlike oil, data is being created at a faster pace than it can be consumed, or analysed. We’re awash with data." Kate Metzler in an attempt to find solutions conducted a survey of more than 9,000 social scientists to learn more about researchers who are engaged in research using big data and the challenges they face. "32 per cent of respondents who are currently engaged in big data research reported that getting access to commercial or proprietary data was a “big problem” for them"

"Firstly, because replication is the engine of science, and irreproducible research slows progress. If only researchers within companies can access and analyse big social datasets, “those without access can neither reproduce nor evaluate the methodological claims of those who have privileged access... secondly, and arguably most importantly, the motivations of industry researchers and social scientists may differ in ways that may really matter. Big data research conducted by companies is usually in service of a single overarching goal: to sell you more stuff." -Katie Metzler

On top of this the level of quantitative and programming skills required for big data research make it a challenge for educators to introduce it into social science courses. This skills gap and lack of teaching and lack of time for teaching is holding social science back at an increasing level. Research results show this trend not going away soon without large scale intervention.

Kate Metzler is Head of Methods Innovation at SAGE Publishing. This piece was featured on the London School of Economics and Political Science Under “The Big Data rich and the Big Data poor”: the new digital divide raises questions about future academic research


This blog post was written by Philip Patino employee at SAGE Publishing under PR Conventions and Social Science Department. As a SAGE employee he helps manage and edits the SAGE hosted sites MethodSpace and Social Science Space.