Designing Web-based Experiments:
Sampling, Recruitment, and Data Collection
in Social Media and other Digital Environments

WebSci’21 Workshop

Date: June, 22

Time: We expect to start at 11 MSK (UTC+2). However, the exact time is yet to be confirmed.

Format: online

Working language: English

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russia), Laboratory for Social and Cognitive Informatics (SCILa)

Providing access to diverse populations and being cost-efficient, online experiments have been widely used to solve various problems in social sciences. This research method has been especially prevalent in Web science and digital communication research allowing to study human interactions with and within the Web environment. Among all, online experiments have been used to explore online behaviour, information perception, social media use, to name a few. However, such designs raise a number of methodological challenges — both conceptual and technical.

This workshop (hosted by the 13th Web Science Conference 2021) is dedicated to the methodology of online experiments. It will bring together researchers from various fields with an expertise in online experimental designs who will present their studies and share experience in methodological problem solving. The goal of the workshop is to discuss different approaches towards designing Web-based experiments as well as their affordances and limitations.

The event will start from the presentation given by the organizers: the SCILa team will share its experience of conducting a cross-national online experiment based on the recent study on the perception of fake news in three countries. In particular, we will discuss possible factorial designs, representative sample construction, recruitment via targeting tools on social media, and online experiment interface development and testing. Followed by the presentations of other panelists, the workshop will end with an extensive discussion session where participants will have an opportunity to advise each other and exchange broader ideas on the use of experiments in Web science.


The estimated time of the workshop is between 3 and 4 hours. The detailed program will be announced after the review of applications is finished.

Who can apply


We will select up to 5 participants who will present their research during the workshop. The application needs to meet several requirements:

The proposed presentations are expected to cover methodological aspects of online experiments such as but not limited to: choice of a design; sample construction and methods of recruitment; development of digital instruments for the experiment (e.g. applications, websites, games); factors of participants behaviour (e.g. engagement, drop-out, completion rate).

Participants will be allowed to discuss both research in progress and completed studies.


This workshop is intended for PhD students and scholars at any stage of their career who are interested in the online experiments. Participants may have varying research backgrounds (e.g. media and communication studies, sociology, social psychology, political science), but are expected to have a good command of quantitative approaches and a broader involvement in Web science.

How to apply

To register for the workshop, please follow the guidelines on the WebSci’21 website:

To apply as a panelist, you need to submit an extended abstract (~1000 words) of your presentation (no full papers are required). We ask you to send abstracts (pdf) to; no special formatting is necessary. Please, do not forget to identify your name, position, and affiliation in the letter. Abstract submission deadline — April 23, 2021.

Workshop organizers