Christian Strippel

Log File Analysis as a Method for Automated Measurement of Internet Usage

This article gives an overview of the ›log file analysis‹ method in the context of Internet use studies and aims to introduce it particularly to scholars with limited technical knowledge. To this end, it first explains the basics of data traffic on the Internet and the role of log files in this context. Then, three variants of the method – server, client, and proxy log files analysis – are presented and discussed, reflecting the current state of research. In addition, the possibilities and limitations of the three variants are evaluated in terms of measurement accuracy, data validity, representativeness, reactivity and costs. In conclusion, all three variants can be helpful for Internet use studies, but they come with certain strengths and weaknesses. Server log file analyses are suitable for studies that focus on specific websites, whereas client and proxy log file analyses are more suitable for user-centric studies that are interested in the usage behavior of individuals.