[Air-L] Twitter research

Greenhalgh, Spencer Paul greenha6 at msu.edu
Tue Mar 27 08:08:57 PDT 2018

Hi Diana,

Great to meet other people on the list who are working with Twitter chats for educators :)

I get the impression that you’re asking more about what data to present rather than what data to analyze, and I think it’s important to make a distinction between them. For example, in my work with colleagues, we’ve never shied away from doing content analysis of tweets, but we’ve paid close attention to how we reproduce tweets when we write up the results of that content analysis.

For example, in this paper<http://doi.org/10.1177/2042753016672131>, we tried to report general themes rather than specific quotes whenever possible; similarly, in this one<http://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-016-0142-4>, we abridged tweets to get the idea across while making it difficult to track down the original tweet/user (technically, since the tweets were in French, we just translated them into English, which had the same effect; I’ve thought about doing something similar without needing to translate). We’ve also included specific tweets in whole when we requested and received permission to do so.

That answers the ethical concerns, but not necessarily the Twitter policy ones; we’ve always paid more attention to the former than to the latter.

I’d be happy to talk more about this off list if you’d like—my colleagues and I have put a lot of thought into it recently, and we’d love to chat with other education researchers about it.



Spencer Greenhalgh
PhD Candidate, Educational Psychology and Educational Technology
Michigan State University


On 27Mar 2018, at 06:19, Tremayne, Diana <D.Tremayne at leedsbeckett.ac.uk<mailto:D.Tremayne at leedsbeckett.ac.uk>> wrote:


I'm just seeking some opinions from people on the list. My research focuses on a Twitter 'chat' for educators. I'm collecting a range of data and exploring how the chat might support professional development. I will be analysing in a range of ways (content analysis, observation, SNA etc) but am interested to know if/how people have explored closer analysis of particular interactions as obviously this has implications in terms of ethics and breaches of Twitter policy. This, from Ahmed et al, (2017) considers the issue:

'Additionally, reproducing tweets but removing user IDs, or altering tweets significantly will contravene
Twitter's User Development Policy which requires tweets to be published in full. However, academic
researchers could argue that the policy is frequently breached and that Twitter has never taken any
action due to the breaches. This is not to say that Twitter may never take action, nor that they will not
take retrospective action, or that doing this is ethical.'

I would be interested to know what people's views/experiences are of this.

Many thanks


Ahmed, W., Bath, P. and Demartini, G. (2017) Chapter 4 Using Twitter as a Data Source:

An Overview of Ethical, Legal, and Methodological Challenges. In: Woodfield, K., (ed.) The
Ethics of Online Research. Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity (2). Emerald , pp.
79-107. ISBN 978-1-78714-486-6

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