July 2017

Big Data Analysis for Social Scientists course - University of Edinburgh

Note: "vosonSML" is the new name for the R package that was previously called "SocialMediaLab". These archived documents may contain materials (e.g. R scripts) that refer to the old package. For up-to date references please visit the Training workshops page or the vosonSML page.

This page provides resources for participants in the Big Data Analysis for Social Scientists 1-day course that will be held at the University of Edinburgh, 6 July 2017.  The course will be taught by Robert Ackland (Australian National University) as part of the UK National Centre for Research Methods International Visitor Exchange Scheme (IVES).

One of the main aims of the class is to outline the main features of vosonSML.  If you would like to look at content before the class starts, please see the vosonSML page, and also, a 5-day course run earlier this year might be of interest.

vosonSML collects Twitter, YouTube and Facebook data from the respective free APIs. If you want to collect data you will need to arrange API access. You can find details on how to get API access here: we will covering setting up API access in the class, but if you want API access, it is important that already have accounts with Twitter, Google, and Facebook*.  Due to the fact that this is a one-day course, we will only be able to cover a couple of the data sources.


VOSON Lab Introduction

SocialMediaLab Workshop - background slides

R scripts:

  • Introduction to R and RStudio: Rmd, pdf
  • SocialMediaLab Tutorial - Data Collection: Rmd, pdf
  • Introduction to SNA with igraph: Rmd, pdf
  • Introduction to Text Analysis in R - Environmental Activist Websites: Rmd, pdf
  • 1-mode projections from 2-mode graphs (Facebook): using igraph, using Jaccard threshold


  • Facebook data collection:
    • 2015-06-23_to_2015-07-23_StopCoalSeamGasBlueMountains_FacebookData.csv
    • g_bimodal_facebook_csg.graphml
  • Twitter collection:
    • Jun_26_03_02_01_2017_AEST_auspol_TwitterData.csv
    • g_twitter_actor.graphml
  • YouTube collection:
    • Jun_26_03_12_16_2017_AEST_YoutubeData.csv
    • g_youtube_actor.graphml
  • For Introduction to SNA with igraph: Sat_Jun_27_13-04-34_2015_EST_YoutubeActorNetwork_FiveFracking.graphml
  • For Introduction to Text Analysis in R: nano2seeds_v2.csv
  • For exercises:
    • Divided They Blog (40 A-listers) hyperlink network: edges,
    • Abortion debate WWW hyperlink network csv files: edges, vertices
    • Abortion debate WWW hyperlinks and meta keywords

Backgound materials

The following are some background slides on social media network analysis, from Robert Ackland's masters courses at ANU.

  • Online Reserach Methods - Introduction
  • Social network analysis
  • WWW hyperlink networks
  • Threaded conversation networks
  • Microblogs