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Enghoff O, Aldridge J. 
“The value of unsolicited online data in drug policy research”. 
Int J Drug Policy. 2019 Jan 06.
Abstract
We alert readers to the value of using unsolicited online data in drug policy research by highlighting web-based content relevant to drug policy generated by distinct types of actor: people who consume, supply or produce illicit drugs, online news websites and state or civil society organisations. These actors leave 'digital traces' across a range of internet platforms, and these traces become available to researchers to use as data - although they have not been solicited by researchers, and so have not been created specifically to fulfil the aims of research projects. This particular type of data entails certain strengths, limitations and ethical challenges, and we aim to assist researchers in understanding these by drawing on selected examples of published research using unsolicited online data that have generated valuable drug policy insights not possible using other traditional data sources. We argue for the continued and increased importance of using unsolicited online data so that drug policy scholarship keep pace with recent developments in the global landscape of drug policies and illicit drug practices.

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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