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Webinar Series: Web-scraping for Social Science Research

Article dated: 24 March 2020

Vast swathes of our social interactions and personal behaviours are now conducted online and/or captured digitally. In addition to common sources such as social media/network platforms and text corpora, websites and online databases contain rich information of relevance to social science research. Thus, computational methods for collecting data from the web are an increasingly important component of a social scientist’s toolkit.

This series of free webinars, presented by Dr Diarmuid McDonnell of the UK Data Service, will explain how to collect data from websites using computational methods. 


27 March 2020, 13.00 - 14.00 GMT

This webinar demonstrates the research potential of web-scraping by describing its role in generating a linked administrative dataset to study the causal effect of a regulatory intervention in the UK charity sector. The webinar will cover the process of scraping data about charities, practical and ethical implications, and the advantages and disadvantages of using this form of data for social science research more generally.


23 April 2020, 15.00 - 16.00 BST

This webinar delineates the value, logic and process of capturing data stored on websites. The webinar will cover the step-by-step process of collecting data from a web page, including providing sample code written in the popular Python programming language. It demonstrates web-scraping techniques for capturing real-time information on the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as for the author’s own research specialism (charitable organisations).


30 April 2020, 15.00 - 16.00 BST

This webinar delineates the value, logic and process of capturing data stored in online databases through an API (application programming interface). The webinar will cover the step-by-step process of downloading data via an API, including providing sample code written in the popular Python programming language. It demonstrates techniques for downloading public information on the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as for a range of other social science subjects (e.g., crime data via the Police UK API, business information via the Companies House API).

There is also a parallel webinar series focusing on getting, storing and manipulating data that illustrates a variety of complementary techniques for collecting data from the web.

Slides and recordings of UK Data Service webinars are made available on our past events pages and YouTube channel soon after the event has taken place.

We expect to run as normal a service as possible during this COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Please visit our COVID-19 page for the latest information.

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