***** To join INSNA, visit ***** Together with Timothy Graham from University of Queensland, I am running a 5-day big data analytics course at the upcoming ACSPRI Winter Program (, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 29 June - 3 July.  The course is R-based (with Gephi for visualisations).  A short description of the course is below.  The early bird rate is available until 6th May.

This course introduces students to the collection and analysis of socially-generated 'big data' using the R statistical software and Gephi network visualisation software.

Big data involves data on: (1) people (social web) e.g. online social networks (e.g. Facebook), microblogs (e.g. Twitter); (2) information (WWW) e.g. web pages, clickstreams; (3) things (sensor web) e.g. phones, temperature sensors, and (4) places (geospatial web) e.g. geology, land use maps.

The focus of this course is on data from the social web and the WWW. Students will learn how to: (1) collect data from web pages, Twitter and Facebook; (2) construct, analyse and visualise networks of people and organisations (social networks) and terms (semantic networks); (3) extract and analyse text data; (4) conduct temporal analysis, (5) filter and sample from large datasets; (6) identify and engage with advanced techniques for dealing with very large datasets.

We will focus on three sources of network and text data: Twitter, Facebook and the WWW. We will look at:

  • Who are the actors, and what actor attributes are available for them?
  • How can we find connections between actors, and how can we use social network analysis to understand the social scientific meaning of such connections?
  • What text can be attributed to these actors, and what does analysis of this text tell us about the actors and society as whole?
  • How can we study behaviour over time, identifying significant events or trends?
  • What are some of the key methodological issues for using social media and WWW data to study individual and collective behaviour, and how can we address such limitations?

The course will also provide an opportunity for students to learn about examples of 'best practice' social science big data research, and thus see how these data and techniques are already being used in social science.

More information:


Dr Robert Ackland
Associate Professor and Deputy Director (Education), Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute
Leader, Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) Lab
Australian National University

My book:
Web Social Science: Concepts, Data and Tools for Social Scientists in the Digital Age (SAGE Publications)

Information about the Master of Social Research (Social Science of the Internet specialisation):

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