This chapter offers an introduction into the use of ‘big data’ in the social sciences, which is defined as the repurposing and exploitation of large novel digital trace datasets for use in social science research. Following a brief exploration of the concept of big data, and its application to social science research, the chapter focusses on the methodological practicalities of actually doing big data research, in two sections. First, general methodological issues in data capture, coding and analysis are addressed, with a discussion of common techniques such as application programming interface [API] access and automatic content analysis. Second, the chapter seeks to describe the toolkit required for doing big data research, looking especially at coding and scripting ability, before also remarking on appropriate types of infrastructural support, with the aim of making practical suggestions for getting researchers going in the field.