Social Media Analysis


Note re laptops:

A laptop is required for this course and we strongly recommend participants bring their own if possible, as this usually optimises the learning environment as well as the transferability of skills and knowledge.

The course instructor will be in touch a couple of weeks prior to the course to help participants download the software required. If there are any participants that do not have access to a laptop for the course, they are encouraged to contact ACSPRI staff as soon as possible (by 27/1/2015 at the latest) to help come up with an alternative.




This course will provide students with an introduction to social media analysis in the context of social research.  The course is designed for social researchers interested in social media, and covers methods of accessing and analysing digital trace data from websites, blogsites, Twitter and Facebook.  While there is emphasis on social networks (e.g. WWW hyperlink networks, follower networks in Twitter, friendship networks in Facebook), analysing text content from social media is also covered.  There will also be an introduction to using Virtual Worlds (e.g. Second Life and Massively Multiplayer Online Games) and online experiments for social research.  Analytic approaches include social network analysis and text content analysis.  The course also provides practical training in three software tools that can be used for social research using social media data: VOSON (for hyperlink network construction and analysis), NodeXL (an Excel 2007/2010 template for collecting and analysing social media data) and Gephi (for network visualisation).

Level 2 - runs over 5 days

Prof. Robert Ackland is based in the School of Sociology at the Australian National University (ANU). He was awarded his PhD in economics from the ANU in 2001, and he has been researching online social and organisational networks since 2002. He leads the Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks Lab ( which was established in 2005 and is advancing the social science of the Internet by conducting research, developing research tools, and providing research training. Robert has been teaching masters courses in online research methods and the social science of the internet since 2008 (undergraduate versions of the courses started in 2017) and in 2019 he began teaching a course on economic analysis of the digital economy. His book Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age (SAGE) was published in July 2013. He created the VOSON software for hyperlink network construction and analysis, which has been publicly available since 2006 and has been used by around 3000 researchers worldwide, and he is a co-creator of the vosonSML and VOSONDash R packages for collecting and analysing social media network and text data.

Course dates: Monday 9 February 2015 - Friday 13 February 2015
Course status: Course completed (no new applicants)
Week 3
Recommended Background: 

Participants are advised to have taken the ACSPRI course Introduction to Social Network Research and Network Analysis or had some equivalent exposure to social network analysis or quantitative text analysis.

The course assumes participants have good familiarity with using computers, in particular web applications.

If the course is run with participants using their own laptops, participants will need to have: (1) Firefox web browser and a VOSON user account (free for course participants); (2) NodeXL (this is a free template for Excel 2007/2010 and only runs on Windows); (3) Gephi (this runs with Mac/Windows/Linux).

Recommended Texts: 

Course notes will be provided.

Ackland, R. (2013), Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age, SAGE Publications.

D. Hansen, B. Shneiderman and M. Smith (2010), Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a connected world. Morgan-Kaufmann.



Course fees
Non Member: 
Full time student Member: 
Summer Program 2015