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Twitter: a Guide for Research Purposes

A brief guide to using Twitter for researchers.

The Basics

Twitter search operates as a Basic Search and an Advanced Search. In addition, there are tools to organise Tweets and Twitter accounts.  To get the best from Twitter you do need your own Twitter account.  If you don't have a Twitter account you can find out about setting one up and more in The Basics section of the Twitter Help Centre


Basic tools help you to find and organise Twitter @accounts and hashtags that interest you.  Tools are listed here with a brief description.



Search box 

Twitter has a search box for simple keyword searches.   Searches generate suggestions for hashtags and Twitter accounts.  You can use these or ignore them and search for your own keywords. 


People use the hashtag symbol (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase in their Tweets.  This group's Tweets with the same hashtag together.  Clicking on a hashtagged word in any message shows you other Tweets with the same hashtag. 


Frequently used hashtags are said to be Trending. Twitter will pick up these tags and display them on your homepage.  The hashtags you see are based on who you follow, your browsing history and location. 

Twitter Handle 

An individual Twitter name or identity.  Twitter handles are unique with an @ prefix, for example, @LksAse  


To Follow another account means that their Tweets get posted on your Twitter stream. 


Create a list and populate it by following interesting or relevant accounts, for example, Leadership & Management



There are actions you can to take to make effective use of the tools available. These are listed here.

Techniques for gathering and organising  information 


Follow relevant accounts 

From your own Twitter account follow Twitter accounts that are useful or relevant. 

Make Lists of accounts on key topics 

Use the Twitter List facility to create lists of accounts relevant to your research or interests.  

Search for useful #hashtags  

You can use a few simple strategies.  Collect hashtags as they come up when you use Twitter, search for collections created by other researchers on Google or use a database like Symplur (requires free registration) to search for hashtags.   

Make lists of useful #hashtags  

Collect useful hashtags to build into your Twitter searches. 

#hashtag management tools 

There are a number of free to use tools to follow and collate #hashtags.  For example, Twubs.  In the fast-moving world of social media tools like this can appear and disappear quickly.  A search of Google will find lists and reviews of current alternatives on.