Web Scraping for Migration Data Analysis


In today's data-driven world, understanding migration patterns is crucial for researchers and data enthusiasts. Web scraping, a technique that extracts data from websites, has emerged as a valuable tool for gathering insights into migrant populations. This guide aims to demystify the concept of web scraping and its applications, providing practical advice, tools, and considerations for those new to this methodology.

Web scraping offers many advantages, including data availability and access, cost-effectiveness, reduced researcher bias, and enhanced transparency and replicability compared to traditional data collection methods. The author outlines three categories of use cases:

  1. Online communication among and about migrants
  2. Integrating, identifying and expanding existing datasets to enrich migration research.
  3. Creating datasets that shed light on migrant population characteristics often overlooked by standard migration sources.

The author details a checklist before taking the web scraping journey. This includes verifying whether the desired data has already been collected and is publicly available, exploring the feasibility of utilizing an Application Programming Interface (API) for smoother data acquisition, reviewing the terms of service of the target websites, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements and ethical protocols.

While web scraping presents numerous opportunities, it also poses specific challenges that warrant careful consideration. Web scraping works better with stable websites since some web scraping types are sensitive to website changes, as some require adjustments for labelling or locating the information. The websites choose the information published, leading to possible biases, and researchers might face requirements concerning ethics, data protection and privacy. 

This article serves as a comprehensive resource for understanding the application of web scraping in migration research. It offers insightful definitions, distinguishing web scraping from web crawling and API usage. Additionally, it highlights current browser plugins, programming languages, codes and other guiding tools that can empower data enthusiasts for further web scraping exploration. 


Last modified
27 February 2024
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