Tweets have become fodder for all kinds of academic research. Scholars mine Twitter to track how voters view politicians, how the public reacts to antismoking campaigns, even how people’s moods change through the day. But academics have faced technical and financial obstacles to obtaining the tweets.
This week Twitter Inc. announced a pilot program that should make it simpler to pursue social-media research—at least for some scholars.
The program, called Twitter Data Grants, will give researchers at “selected institutions free and easy access to Twitter data sets,” according to a company blog post announcing the effort and soliciting project proposals. Those researchers will also get the chance to collaborate with Twitter’s engineers and researchers.
Scholars already have other ways to get Twitter data. The company provides an interface that allows people to gather a limited sample of tweets, said Sherry L. Emery, a University of Illinois at Chicago public-health researcher who uses social-media data to study communication about smoking. But that free sample can be insufficient for rigorous analysis, Ms. Emery said, and it also requires some technical expertise to obtain. <Read more.>