A Tutorial for Using Twitter Data in the Social Sciences: Data Collection, Preparation, and Analysis
95 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 5, 2016
The ever increasing use of digital tools and services has led to the emergence of new data sources for social scientists, data wittingly or unwittingly produced by users while interacting with digital tools. The potential of these digital trace data is well-established. Still, in practice, the process of data collection, preparation and storage, and subsequent analysis can provide challenges. With this tutorial, we provide a guide for social scientists to the collection, preparation, and analysis of digital trace data collected on the microblogging service Twitter. This tutorial comes with a set of scripts providing researchers with a starter kit of code allowing them to search, collect, and prepare Twitter data following their specific research interests. We will start with a general discussion of the research process with Twitter data. Following this, we will introduce a set of scripts for data collection on Twitter. After this, we will introduce various scripts for the preparation of data for analysis. We then present a series of examples for typical analyses that could be run with Twitter data. Here, we focus on counts, time series, and networks. We close this tutorial with a discussion of challenges in establishing digital trace data as a normal data source in the social sciences.
Keywords: Twitter, Digital Trace Data, Data Collection, Political Communication, Computational Social Science, Big Data
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