Libby Hemphill bio photo

Libby Hemphill

Principal Investigator

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  • Libby Hemphill (Illinois Institute of Technology)
  • Richard Rogers (University of Amsterdam)
  • Jeff Hemsley (Syracuse University)
  • Sikana Tanupabrungsun (Syracuse University)

Potential Participants

Researchers interested in learning to collect, management, and analyze data from social media platforms, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


The technical expertise and computational resources required to collect and manage large scale social media data exclude many researchers who have the theoretical expertise to interrogate the data. Several tools have been developed recently by researchers to address these problems, and we introduce a few of those, and their developers, in this workshop.

This half-day workshop will help researchers interested in using data from social media platforms get started collecting data and managing their data workflow. We begin with brief overviews (roughly 10 minutes each) of digital research practices (Rogers), big data research project management (Hemphill), and open source tools for social media data collection (Hemsley and Tanupabrungsun). The remainder of the workshop will be structured as a research “hackathon” where participants will actively work in small groups to articulate data needs for specific research projects, draft data collection and management plans, and begin collecting data using existing tools.

The organizers all have experience developing tools to facilitate the capture of Internet data for a variety of research ends. They will each introduce some of the available tools and will be on hand to help during the hackathon. Rogers and colleagues have developed a suite of tools under the Digital Methods Initiative that facilitate data capture from sources such as GitHub, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Hemphill’s lab has developed a project management approach for handling big social data research projects and is involved in building infrastructures for social media data sharing. Hemsley and Tanupabrungsun have developed the Social Media Tracker, Aggregator, and Collector Toolkit that helps researchers quickly spin up data collection projects for Twitter and Facebook.

While most of the workshop will focus on data tools and their use, we will also discuss the theoretical and methodological challenges big social data present. For instance, we will discuss the limitations that platforms place on data available through their APIs, the ethical considerations of “public” data, and the potential for data sharing infrastructures to facilitate social media research.

Call for Applications

We invite participants with a range of expertise studying social media to submit applications. The workshop will be most useful for researchers who have projects or questions in mind but who are unsure about how to get the data they need to answer their questions.

Applications should be no more than 800 words and should provide the following:

  1. A short statement about your experience as a social media researcher – along with research questions, projects, publications, etc.
  2. An overview of the research project you would like to work on during the hackathon. This overview should include the specific questions you are addressing and the data challenges they are facing.

Because we hope to achieve measurable progress on each participant’s research, we will limit the workshop to no more than 20 participants. We may select up to 20 “observers” who will be invited to attend but whose projects will not be a focus of the hackathon portion.

Applications should be submitted via Dropbox Requests by June 30, 2017 at 5pm CDT. All those who submit proposals will be notified of the status of their applications before the August 1, 2017 Early Registration deadline. Please make sure your name, email, and institutional affiliation are included in the application you submit so that we can get in touch with you.


AOIR will invoice all invited participants USD$10 to cover workshop fees.


Email Libby with questions