#MyPhD Notebooks Research

Social Media Data Collection

A few weeks ago, I provided you all with a barest-of-bones overview of my research studies. Now, it’s time for me to share a few more details about the direction of my data collection and analysis over the next few months.

Data: the majority of the data I am collecting for analysis and discussion in my thesis comes from social media. I am interested in internet research, and the concept of the internet as a research site.”

As well as looking at archive and current posts and discussions on social media, I intend to engage users of Twitter in other ways, with the aim of generating conversations specifically associated with my current research. There are two initial strands to this element of my data collection.

  1. #MyOrkneyFolklore Hashtag: as from this week, I’ll be starting to use and monitor the hashtag #MyOrkneyFolklore, asking people to comment on how Orkney’s folklore has had an impact of their sense of identity. Participants need not be residents of Orkney, or Orcadian. I’m interested in hearing from anyone who feels that the folklore of Orkney has had an impact on any aspect of their personal identity, or their community’s identity.
  2. #MyPhDHour Twitter Hour(s): following earlier analysis of data gathered from social media relating to Orkney, folklore, and identity, I plan to host at least one Twitter Hour to discuss key areas of my research (depending on the detail of the analysis and the interest, it might be that there are three or four Twitter Hours held over the coming months, teasing out specific themes of my research).
You can find me on Twitter here
You can find me on Twitter here

#MyOrkneyFolklore Hashtag
I will post again in the next few days with some starters-for-ten that have arisen in my research and experiences so far, to kickstart some Twitter chat.

#MyPhDHour Twitter Hour(s)
More information relating to #MyPhDHour Twitter Hour(s) will follow in the coming weeks. I plan to host the first Twitter Hour before Easter.

Ethical Considerations
All social media data I am collating and analysing is taken from information in the public domain. On Facebook, this means data is only downloaded from public groups, which do not require any form of personal affiliation with the content to access the data (including joining the group, even if all content is public anyway). On Twitter, data is only downloaded from accounts which are set to be public. No social media accounts, even those fully in the public domain, will be mentioned by name unless explicit permission is obtained.

If you’d like to participate in the discussions outlined above on Twitter, but have your account set to private, please do let me know if you’re happy for your comments to be referenced in my research. As a default, anyone who joins in the discussions but has their account set to private will not have their comments referenced in my research, unless they contact me otherwise to explicitly indicate they are happy for their comments to be included. Obviously, regardless of whether you’d like your comments included or not, I’d still be delighted if you joined in the conversation!

Naturally, my thesis will look into the ethical considerations associated with my data collection and analysis in much more detail than this. If you’re interested in ethical principles relating to internet research then, as a starting point, the Association of Internet Researchers Ethics Working Committee has published two reports featuring recommendations (published in 2002[1] and in 2012[2]).

Following Up Conversations
It may be that, in the course of the discussions mentioned above, I identify some interesting observations or comments and wish to follow these up with the original poster, to see if they are happy to discuss these further in a different format (perhaps by way of a more traditional interview, or in an email conversation).

Aside from this, however, if you’d like to discuss my research further in any way, then you can contact me directly by email (lydia.crow@uhi.ac.uk). I’d be as interested to hear from folklorists who wish to discuss the content of my research specifically in relation Orcadian folklore, as I would from internet researchers who wish to discuss methods, and data collection and analysis.


[1] You can access the 2002 AOIR report here: http://aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf.

[2] You can access the 2012 AOIR report here: http://aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf.

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