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The Role of Surveys in the Era of “Big Data”

Yongwei Yang
The Palgrave handbook of Survey Research, Palgrave (2018), pp. 175-192


Survey data have recently been compared and contrasted with so-called “Big Data” and some observers have speculated about how Big Data may eliminate the need for survey research. While both Big Data and survey research have a lot to offer, very little work has examined the ways that they may best be used together to provide richer datasets. This chapter offers a broad definition of Big Data and proposes a framework for understanding how the benefits and error properties of Big Data and surveys may be leveraged in ways that are complementary. This chapter presents several of the opportunities and challenges that may be faced by those attempting to bring these different sources of data together.