Critically engaging with social media research tools

critically-engaging-with-social-media-research-tools powerpoint slides for the presentation at
#NSMNSS / SRA event: An introduction to tools for social media research


TAGS – available here – by Martin Hawksey. Contains useful instructions and videos to help setting it up.

I have also created a step by step set-up guide for TAGS V6 –!ApdJKDPeE0fSmgo6z6yDln43Kb7X

The only concern is that Twitter now requires you to not only have a Twitter account but also have installed their app on your phone and provide them with your phone number and verify it. So it’s “Free”!

Just provide us with your entire identity and all the data that goes with it.

YOURTWAPPERKEEPER – available here –

It has been seriously undermined by changes to Twitters rules and regulations and its creator John O’Brien III seems to have sold it to Hootsuite and left it at that. It may now be in contravention of Twitter’s Terms of Services.

DMI-TCAT available here –

The Digital Methods Initiative Twitter Capture and Analysis Toolset (DMI-TCAT) allows the  retrieval and collection of  tweets from Twitter and to analyze them in various ways.

Please check for further information and installation instructions.

This software is highly recommended – it also has a version that can access Youtube –

GEPHIavailable here –

It can now be used to collect Twitter data – and operates on Windows and Apple operating systems – just be very careful with java updates and incompatible versions of iOS.

TROPES – available here –

Designed for Information Science, Market Research, Sociological Analysis and Scientific studies, Tropes is a Natural Language Processing and Semantic Classification software that guarantees pertinence and quality in Text Analysis.

LEXIMANCER – available here

Leximancer is computer software that conducts quantitative content analysis using a machine learning technique. It learns what the main concepts are in a text and how they relate to each other. It conducts a thematic analysis and a relational (or semantic) analysis of the textual data.


#NSMNSS / SRA event: An introduction to tools for social media research



£115 for non-members, £95 for SRA members

Following the success of March’s #SoMeEthics conference, the SRA and #NSMNSS are teaming up with 8 expert speakers to present a one-day session on tools for social media research.

The event aims to introduce, in a practical way, some of the things that are possible with social media research. It is aimed at social researchers who want to find out more about what this new methodology can offer, or social media researchers interested in seeing what other tools/techniques are out there.

Our speakers will introduce a mix of (mostly) free-to-use tools, demonstrating with real examples how they can be used in the analysis of a range of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and Flickr. They will cover both quantitative and qualitative social media analysis techniques, including the analysis of both text and image data, network analysis, geographical analysis, and more.

Full Programmepdf file

Press the ‘Register‘ button for more information and to book your place

Steven McDermott
, University of the Arts London

Critically Engaging with Social Media Research Tools


Wasim Ahmed, University of Sheffield

Introduction to NodeXL


Luke Sloan, Social Data Science Lab, Cardiff University

Democratising Access to Social Media Data – the Collaborative Online Social Media ObServatory (COSMOS)


Gillian Mooney, University of Leeds

– Using Facebook as a Research Tool


Phillip Brooker, University of Bath

Doing Social Media Analytics with Chorus


Sarah Lewthwaite, NCRM University of Southampton

Developing inclusive and accessible digital methods: engaging critically with your digital toolbox


Yeran Sun, Urban Big Data Centre, University of Glasgow

– How to use R and QGIS to find out tourism hotspots in cities


Francesco D’Orazio, Pulsar

– Mapping the visual dna of a brand on social media


Registration from 9.30am

Tea/coffee and a sandwich lunch is included

Choose an Option:
Not SRA member (£115.00)
SRA member (£95.00)

Start Time: 10:00 am
End Time: 5:00 pm

Date: October 11, 2016

Friends House
173-177 Euston Road
Map and Directions

 To Register…

Iraq Inquiry Report – #Chilcot – A Thematic Analysis

war (Hits: 1313)

Dr ElBaradei told Mr Blair that: “Any war would risk radicalising the region. It should be UN-controlled.” 

Extract from meeting in 2003 – Meetings with Dr Blix and Dr ElBaradei 6 February 2003

What follows are the visualizations created using Leximancer software of the Iraq Inquiry Report (all 12 Volumes over 2 million words)and also referred to as the Chilcot Report. The Report of the Iraq Inquiry was published on Wednesday 6 July 2016. Sir John Chilcot’s public statement can be read here.

Leximancer is a computer software that conducts quantitative content analysis using a machine learning technique. It learns what the main concepts are in a text and how they relate to each other. It conducts a thematic analysis and a relational (or semantic) analysis of the textual data. Leximancer provides word frequency counts and co-occurrence counts of concepts present in the tweets. It is:

[A] Method for transforming lexical co-occurrence information from natural language into semantic patterns in an unsupervised manner. It employs two stages of co-occurrence information extraction— semantic and relational—using a different algorithm for each stage. The algorithms used are statistical, but they employ nonlinear dynamics and machine learning. (Smith and Humphreys, p. 26)

Once a concept has been identified by the machine learning process, Leximancer then creates a thesaurus of words that are associated with that concept giving the ‘concept its semantic or definitional content’.

Iraq Inquiry Report Social Network Visualisation - by Dr Steven McDermott

Iraq Inquiry Report Social Network Visualisation – by Dr Steven McDermott

How to read the Leximancer Map

A Leximancer ‘Theme’ is a group or cluster of Concepts that have some commonality or connectedness as seen from their close proximity on the Concept Map. The size of the Theme circle has no bearing as to its prevalence or importance in the text; the circles are merely boundaries. Prevalence is determined by the number of Concepts present in the Theme and this is indicated in the Thematic Report. The histogram bars in the Thematic Report are color-coded (hot – cold) to further signify the prevalence of the Theme – and this color is carried through to the Theme circle boundary color.  (Source: Link)


Thematic Summary of Iraq Inquiry Report 2016a

Thematic Summary of Iraq Inquiry Report 2016a

Thematic summary of Iraq Inquiry Report 2016 in full as pdf file.

attacks (Hits: 1458)
“Once Saddam is gone there is likely to be widespread and apparently random violence between Iraqis. Specific attacks against Coalition Forces are likely to come later (perhaps some months later) if particular individuals or groups feel they are being cut out of contracts, administration positions etc.”

Incredible Article – Social media and the social sciences: How researchers employ Big Data analytics

F7.mediumI can not recommend this article enough.

Very well written and covers the appropriate literature and software surrounding social media mining and analysis for social scientists.

I also completely agree that what is needed is a critical engagement with social media as well as other Big (Social) Data by non computer programmers, mathematicians and physicists in order to generate rich and detailed accounts of what is happening…

There is a need for critical data analysis, utilizing digital methods for capturing and analyzing social media according to platform dynamics. There is also a need for enriching data analytics with more traditional methodologies to provide thick description (Felt, 2016).

by Mylynn Felt, PhD student, Department of Communication, Media and Film, The University of Calgary,


Social media posts are full of potential for data mining and analysis. Recognizing this potential, platform providers increasingly restrict free access to such data. This shift provides new challenges for social scientists and other non-profit researchers who seek to analyze public posts with a purpose of better understanding human interaction and improving the human condition. This paper seeks to outline some of the recent changes in social media data analysis, with a focus on Twitter, specifically. Using Twitter data from a 24-hour period following The Sisters in Spirit Candlelight Vigil, sponsored by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, this article compares three free-use Twitter application programming interfaces for capturing tweets and enabling analysis. Although recent Twitter data restrictions limit free access to tweets, there are many dynamic options for social scientists to choose from in the capture and analysis of Twitter and other social media platform data. This paper calls for critical social media data analytics combined with traditional, qualitative methods to address the developing ‘data gold rush.’

Big Data & Society January-June 2016 vol. 3 no. 1

An Analysis of Big Data on Health: Critique is Not Optional

What follows is the material presented at the  ‘Vice and Virtue: the Rise of Self-Tracking Technologies and the Moralising of ‘Health’ Behaviours’ on the 10th-13th May 2016 Brocher Foundation, Switzerland (

An Analysis of Big Data on Health_001

An Analysis of Big Data on Health (pdf file of slides)

The abstract for what is a WORK IN PROGRESS 

can be accessed here….

The ‘social’ has always been a commercial and scientific resource – now in the digital age the competition regarding claims to which disciplines have justified understandings of this domain have intensified. The social sciences need to defend their subject area in order to preserve it. An application of the netnographic approach (Kozinets, 2010), social network analysis, data mining and machine-learning tools to highlight the certainties and uncertainties of Big Data and the Health Industry in order to start the process of uncovering the social and cultural forces that they are appropriating. What follows is the application of the tools of Big Data analytics on those that conduct Big Data analytics. There are competing discourses surrounding ‘Big Data’ and Health. On the one hand business, marketing and advertising interests are promoting Big Data as information that no longer requires theory or the scientific methodologies of old. On the other are voices from the academy; digital humanities and computational social sciences that wish to benefit from the volumes of available data. It is these (and other) competing discourses that are the target of this research. This paper argues that those engaged in ‘data without theory’ are generating a relational social mechanism similar to that of self-fulfilling prophesies of Merton, the network effects of Coleman and the bandwagon effects of Granovetter (Donati, 2015:66) and leaving no room for critique. (Continue reading)

Towards a typology of hashtag publics: a large-scale comparative study of user engagement across trending topics

“what we have defined as keyword hashtags constitute a very different way of using hashtags – largely for emphasis rather than to institute an issue public –, and the uses and utility of such hashtags remain to be explored in greater detail still.”

“what we have defined as keyword hashtags constitute a very different way of using hashtags – largely for emphasis rather than to institute an issue public –, and the uses and utility of such hashtags remain to be explored in greater detail still.”

by Axel Bruns, Brenda Moon, Avijit Paul & Felix Münch (2016)

Twitter’s hashtag functionality is now used for a very wide variety of purposes, from covering crises and other breaking news events through gathering an instant community around shared media texts (such as sporting events and TV broadcasts) to signalling emotive states from amusement to despair. These divergent uses of the hashtag are increasingly recognised in the literature, with attention paid especially to the ability for hashtags to facilitate the creation of ad hoc or hashtag publics. A more comprehensive understanding of these different uses of hashtags has yet to be developed, however.
Previous research has explored the potential for a systematic analysis of the quantitative metrics that could be generated from processing a series of hashtag datasets. Such research found, for example, that crisis-related hashtags exhibited a significantly larger incidence of retweets and tweets containing URLs than hashtags relating to televised events, and on this basis hypothesised that the information-seeking and -sharing behaviours of Twitter users in such different contexts were substantially divergent.
This article updates such study and their methodology by examining the communicative metrics of a considerably larger and more diverse number of hashtag datasets, compiled over the past five years. This provides an opportunity both to confirm earlier findings, as well as to explore whether hashtag use practices may have shifted subsequently as Twitter’s userbase has developed further; it also enables the identification of further hashtag types beyond the “crisis” and “mainstream media event” types outlined to date. The article also explores the presence of such patterns beyond recognised hashtags, by incorporating an analysis of a number of keyword-based datasets.
This large-scale, comparative approach contributes towards the establishment of a more comprehensive typology of hashtags and their publics, and the metrics it describes will also be able to be used to classify new hashtags emerging in the future. In turn, this may enable researchers to develop systems for automatically distinguishing newly trending topics into a number of event types, which may be useful for example for the automatic detection of acute crises and other breaking news events.

Axel Bruns –
With contributing authors Jan Schmidt, Fabio Giglietto, Steven McDermott, Till Keyling, Xi Cui, Steff en Lemke, Isabella Peters, Athanasios Mazarakis, Yu-Chung Cheng, and Pailin Chen

Vice and Virtue: the Rise of Self-Tracking Technologies and the Moralising of ‘Health’ Behaviours

10th-13th May 2016
Brocher Foundation, Switzerland (
Attendance is free but registration is essential as places are limited. Please email Becky Brown ( if you would like to attend.
Provisional programme:
Becky Brown
Public Health Promotion and the Moralisation of ‘Lifestyle’ Behaviour
John Coggon
‘Coercive Healthism’ and Individual Choices to ‘Live Healthily’
Paul Crawshaw
Social marketing, inequality and governance failure in global public health
Luna Dolezal
Human Life as Digitized Data Assemblage: Health, Wealth and Biopower in Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story
Vikki Entwistle
Health professionals and the moralisation (or not) of ‘self-management’ among people with long-term health conditions
François Hudon
Social Justice, Freedom and Self-Tracking Technologies
Samia Hurst
Steven McDermott
An Analysis of Big Data on Health: Critique is Not Optional
Heather Morgan
Digital technologies + chronic health conditions = new modes for moralising?
Susan Oman
John Owens and Alan Cribb
Promoting health, promoting autonomy? Deliberation, action and freedom in an age of wearable technologies
Christopher Till