Extracting theory from black boxes: Using machine vision APIs in communication research


The increasing volume of images published digitally requires social science and communication researchers to employ methods able to perform visual content analysis at a large scale. Ongoing advances in machine vision and the ability to automatically detect objects, concepts and features in images provide a promising opportunity to address this challenge, yet it is often not feasible for social science researchers to develop their own custom classifier given the volume of images, resources and technical expertise needed. We therefore propose a research protocol with which existing pre-trained (commercial) models can be used for theory-building purposes despite their black box approach. https://doi.org/10.1109/eScience.2018.00068

2018 IEEE 14th International Conference on e-Science (e-Science)