Social media and the social sciences: methods and tools for academic research
Social media as a research tool has gained in popularity in recent years. Those new to the field may wish to know about the key methodologies and tools that can be used for the analysis of data. This post will provide a round-up of popular methods and tools for the analysis of social media data.
Although there will be a number of ways to build custom scripts for the analysis of data; it remains that pre-existing tools remain popular for social science scholars as it removes the need for development skills. Twitter remains the most utilised platform and will be the focus of this post.
As a wrote in my 2015 LSE Impact blog post:
- Sentiment analysis works well with social media data, as posts may be consistent in length
- Time series analysis is normally used when examining posts overtime to see when a peak of social media posts may occur
- Network analysis is used to visualize the connections between people and to better understand the structure of the conversation.
- Machine learning methods may work well with social media data because of the volume of tweets
- Qualitative analysis methods (such as thematic and content analysis) are rare for social media research, however, they can often offer up more depth than quantitative methods.
Read more here
In terms of popular tools for the analysis of social media data a list of popular tools is populated below:
An overview of tools for 2019
|Tool||OS||Download and/or access from||Platforms*|
|Chorus (free)||Windows (Desktop advisable)||http://chorusanalytics.co.uk/chorus/request_download.php|
|COSMOS Project (free)||Windows
MAC OS X
|Mozdeh||Windows (Desktop advisable)||http://mozdeh.wlv.ac.uk/installation.html|
|NVivo||Windows and MAC||http://www.qsrinternational.com/product||Twitter
Ability to import
|Twitter Arching Google Spreadsheet (TAGS)||Web-based||https://tags.hawksey.info|
|Webometric Analyst||Windows||http://lexiurl.wlv.ac.uk||Twitter (with image extraction capabilities)
Other web resources
The tools above can be used in a manner to conduct academic research that many may believe that is not possible! Consequently I am running a 1 day intensive training event teaching the above skills and techniques on May 17th in London (online attendance will be made possible). Information provided below:
Social Media and Digital Humanities: Methods and Approaches For Social Scientists and Digital Marketing Professionals
This event will introduce a mix of methodologies and provide an overview of free-to-use and commercial software for the analysis of social media data. It will be led by an expert in the area, Dr Wasim Ahmed who has taught Undergraduate, Masters, and PhD level courses on social media data analytics.