Combined Final Project Paper for LIS 590 NA – Network Analysis and LIS 590 SF – Social Computing (Fall, 2012)
In Their Own Words: Tweeting the International Student and Study Abroad Experience
Communication technology is making it ever easier for educational institutions, recruiters, students, and their family and friends to communicate with each other from anywhere in the world. As part of that rise of communication technology, Twitter has become an increasingly prevalent mode of communication. Both individuals and organizations use Twitter to get their messages across, usually tagging their Tweets with subject hashtags in order for other users to see their posts. Twitter sees hundreds of millions of Tweets daily, from people around the globe. Because international students travel around the globe as well, Twitter has the potential to be a very useful tool for connecting all of those possible users, educational institutions, recruiters, students, and families and friends. In light of Twitter’s potential for connecting these users, I asked the following question: Who is writing about international students and study abroad students on Twitter using the hashtags “#internationalstudent” and “#studyabroad” and what are they saying?
In order to attempt to answer this question, I collected Tweets over the course of a week, between 11/20/2012 and 11/28/2012, focusing on Tweets using the hashtags “#internationalstudent” and “#studyabroad.” My total dataset consisted of 315 total Tweets from 79 discrete users under the hashtag “#internationalstudent,” and 1478 total Tweets from 866 users under the hashtag “#studyabroad.” From this dataset I learned that most Tweets on these subjects remain in isolation, with most Tweets not being commented on or “ReTweeted” (that is, forwarded), making for primarily isolate-filled networks. I also learned that the primary users of these hashtags are indeed organizations, using Twitter as a recruiting mechanism, rather than students using Twitter to Tweet about experiences as international or study abroad students.
This document has been redacted from the original. As this project was initially designed as a class project only, no IRB authorization was pursued for the mining of publicly available Twitter data. Thus, in order to maintain anonymity of personally identifiable information, all Twitter handles initially used within the text have been replaced with pseudonyms. Additionally, as many of the data tables included far more Twitter handles than were explicitly named in the text, all tables listing personally identifiable information information have been removed, though tables and graphs without personally identifiable information have been kept in. Captions for removed tables have been retained to indicate what kinds of data tables were included. No alterations have been made to the substance, process, or analysis of the data collected, nor were any changes made to the conclusions.