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Library Research Guides

Social Media Research Guide

Thinking about social media

There are many ways to use social media in academic research. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want to know what others are saying on social media? Are you looking for a collection of social media posts to search through?
  • Do you want to find research about the phenomenon of social media (its effects, user behavior, etc.)?  [Look at "secondary sources" below]
  • Are you looking for social media sources that you can export or download in order to "mine" (perform some automated or algorithmic analysis) the content? 
  • Are you interested in social media content over time, or a particular date range? 
  • Are you interested in any social media content, or a particular source (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

Keeping these considerations in mind will help you narrow down your options regarding where to find appropriate social media content for your research needs.

Secondary sources about social media research

Aspects of social media are being studied by researchers in many different disciplines such as political science, communications, history, sociology, information science, public health and more. This means that there are many databases which may be helpful for finding scholarly literature related to the study of social media.

When searching, remember to think about synonyms for your subject keywords. For example, in addition to searching for the term "social media" you may also want to try keywords such as "new media" or "social networking sites".

Background information on social media

Books and reference materials can be a good source of background information on social media technologies, industries and usage.