The Two Cultures and Big Data Research
Eytan Adar

The ongoing struggle in the integration of Big Data methodology into the social science "toolkit" is due, in no small part, to the gulf between the "two cultures" of research. Those that produce and work with explanatory models (the first culture) criticize the primarily predictive models (the second) produced as part of Big Data research. While often the debate does not acknowledge the role of models as a fundamental point of contention, it nonetheless underlies much of the discourse. By better appreciating this difference and finding ways in which to integrate models, Big Data social science will become better integrated in the general social science research practice. The goal of this work is to critically examine the existing gap, the consequences of its existence, and possible resolutions.

Pre-print: PDF, (200Kb), I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 10(3), Winter, 2015.