Social media is a rich source of data that researchers from many disciplines increasingly incorporate into their research. For a number of years, many groups across Australia have independently collected significant social media holdings to serve their local research community. The Australian Digital Observatory project seeks to sustainably align and connect selected established platforms into a national infrastructure that supports an extended and diverse array of research communities.

Due to the cancellation by Twitter of the API for Academic Research, our harvesting of tweets stopped on the 21st of April 2023. All other harvesting operations (Mastodon, Reddit, YouTube, Flickr) continue.

The Australian Digital Observatory project establishes a national infrastructure for accessing and analysing dynamic digital data, including existing collections of national interest across Twitter, Mastodon, FlickR, YouTube, Reddit, and other platforms, please visit the data and methods page for more information on the collected data and citation details.

The Australian Digital Observatory creates an interdisciplinary team of data science researchers and support staff at key locations around Australia who will offer data-related services, training, and research support in data collection, storage, tidying, pre-processing, analytics, and visualisation to support academics’ research data pipelines. These tasks can be time-consuming and often involve a steep learning curve for specific technical skills. The Australian Digital Observatory can reduce or eliminate this burden so that researchers can focus on analysis and interpretation.

The Melbourne eResearch Group at the University of Melbourne has set up an API and a Dashboard that allow users to perform some analysis on social media posts, such as word similarity, topic modelling, sentiment analysis, and tweet counts.

The first step accessing either the API or the Dashboard is to request an API key (see below). API keys are conditionals to non-commercial use and other limitations (see Terms and Conditions ).

Once an API key (a very long sequence of letters and numbers that identifies you as an ADO user –do not share it with anyone) you can either access the Dashboard (the API key has to be inserted to gain access to it) or, if coding is your thing, you can access the API directly. To get the most out of the API please refer to its documentation (see below).

With either the Dashboard or the API you can download the IDs of tweets (Twitter social media posts), which can be used to get the actual tweet data via the Twitter API for later analysis. Due to privacy reasons, ADO cannot disclose actual tweet data unless in aggregate; however, the tweet IDs can be used to download the data of interest and analyze them in ways not covered by the AOD Dashboard and API (please see the tutorials below).

All images generated with the help of AI.

Please read our privacy policy on the collection of personal data.