What to watch: Practical considerations and strategies for using YouTube for research




Sui, Wuyou
Sui, Anna
Rhodes, Ryan E.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Digital Health


YouTube is the second-most visited webpage in the world and boasts over 2 billion users and 500 h of videos uploaded every hour. Despite this popularity, relatively few articles have discussed the practical use of searching and YouTube as a research tool and source of data. The purpose of our paper is to propose a step-by-step schematic for utilizing the YouTube platform. Our discussions include (a) when/whether to use YouTube for research; (b) selecting an appropriate research design; (c) how to search for YouTube data; (d) what data can be pulled from YouTube; and (e) the contextual limitations for interpreting YouTube data. Further, we provide practical strategies and considerations when searching, collecting, or interpreting YouTube data. These discussions are informed by our own work using the YouTube platform. Effective methods used to search for YouTube data are likely to extend beyond simply searching the platform itself; the search strategy and search results themselves should also be documented. While not exhaustive, we feel these considerations and strategies present themselves as a conceptual foothold for future research using the YouTube platform.



YouTube, social media, methodology, big data, tutorial


Sui, W., Sui, A., & Rhodes, R. E. (2022). “What to watch: Practical considerations and strategies for using YouTube for research.” Digital Health, 8, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1177/20552076221123707