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Editors’ Choice: Making Big Data Informative Data

Social science explores human interaction. So, now that we have data on virtually every type of human interaction, can we, once and for all, see exactly how human society works? Sort of. The potential of “big data” is enormous. But data by themselves are not enough. In this essay, I will argue that research still requires accurate theoretical models to provide guidance, and compelling research strategies to understand causal relationships. The size of the data cannot make up for the absence of these other pillars of research in social science.

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