Studying Reddit: A Systematic Overview of Disciplines, Approaches, Methods, and Ethics

Nicholas Proferes, Naiyan Jones, Sarah Gilbert, Casey Fiesler, Michael Zimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


This article offers a systematic analysis of 727 manuscripts that used Reddit as a data source, published between 2010 and 2020. Our analysis reveals the increasing growth in use of Reddit as a data source, the range of disciplines this research is occurring in, how researchers are getting access to Reddit data, the characteristics of the datasets researchers are using, the subreddits and topics being studied, the kinds of analysis and methods researchers are engaging in, and the emerging ethical questions of research in this space. We discuss how researchers need to consider the impact of Reddit’s algorithms, affordances, and generalizability of the scientific knowledge produced using Reddit data, as well as the potential ethical dimensions of research that draws data from subreddits with potentially sensitive populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Reddit
  • online research
  • research ethics
  • social media
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications


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