Online data are relatively cheap, fast and easy to collect internationally, and are thus comparable across countries. Data comparability is crucial for social and behavioural scientists in the current context of globalization and economic interdependence. Despite its advantages and popularity, web-based data collection research faces important methodological challenges that must be addressed to provide web-based data collection with the scientific validity that traditional research methods already enjoy.
WEBDATANET was established in 2011 in order to fulfil that goal by constituting a multidisciplinary network of web-based data collection experts - (web) survey methodologists, psychologists, sociologists, linguists, economists, Internet scientists, media researchers and public opinion researchers - to accumulate and synthesize knowledge of methodological problems and their potential solutions. Given the context of the growing importance of web-based data collection in the social and behavioural sciences, WEBDATANET is a COST Action that creates a unified research forum. It tackles web-based data collection problems and and issues like scientific validity by using different data sources, such as new and already existing web-surveys, social networks, and other web 2.0 technologies.
WEBDATANET is generating innovative ideas, addressing the latest technological options, creating synergies within the existing body of knowledge, fostering the development of new research agendas, supporting the drafting of cross-national research proposals, and providing new tools and guidance for researchers, official bodies, and statistical institutes. The network also promotes web-based data usage in the EU by supplying web-based teaching and discussion platforms, disseminating findings, and organizing conferences, working groups, and research exchanges. As a result, Action IS1004 contributes to the theoretical foundations of web-based data collection, stimulates its integration into the entire research process (i-science), and enhances its credibility, all ultimately for the benefit of the general public.