Capture from Twitter


Twitter is an online social media site that allows its members to post messages (known as Tweets) of up to 140 characters. You can collect material from Twitter using NCapture and then import it into NVivo.

NOTE  NCapture relies on the Twitter API which provides a sampling of tweets. This may result in a capture of different tweets to what you see in a browser.

You can capture Twitter data as a:

  • Dataset that you can sort, filter and auto code in NVivo.

  • PDF of the web page containing the Tweets.

To find out whether your version of NVivo supports importing Twitter data as a dataset or PDF, refer to Which versions of NVivo are compatible with NCapture?

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Capture from Twitter

To capture Tweets and then import them into NVivo:

  1. In your web browser, go to www.twitter.com.

  2. Find the Tweets that you want to capture.

  1. Click the NCapture button at the top of your browser. You can choose how you want to capture the content and provide additional information.

a  Select a Source type. You can capture Twitter data as a dataset that you can sort, filter and auto code in NVivo. Alternatively, you can capture the web page showing Tweets as a PDF—this is the only option when you are viewing your home timeline.  The options vary depending on what you are viewing in Twitter—refer to Tips for capturing Tweets for more information.

b  Review the default Source name. This will be the name of the source once it is imported into NVivo. If you want, you can change the name.

c You can enter a short Description or a Memo:

  • The description could describe what you are capturing—it becomes one of the source's properties.

  • The memo could record your reasons for capturing this data and how it relates to your research. It becomes a linked memo when the source is imported.  

d  In the Code at nodes box, you can enter one or more nodes that you want to code the content to. Then, when you import the content into NVivo, the entire source is coded at the nodes you entered.

If you enter a node that does not exist in your project—or incorrectly type the name of a node—a new node will be created during import. If you want to code to an existing node in your project (for example, a child node in a hierarchy), you can enter the hierarchical node name—for example, economy\tourism.

e  Click Capture. You can stop a capture—for example, if you want to limit the amount of data you capture—and NCapture will stop collecting more Tweets. An NCapture file will be created with the Tweets already captured. You can import NCapture files into your NVivo project. For more information on importing from Twitter, refer to one of the following:

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Tips for capturing Tweets

Depending on the Tweets that you are viewing in your timeline, you may see different capture options.

Tweets displayed Description
Home timeline In Twitter, your home timeline displays the Tweets of people or organizations that you follow. You can only capture your home timeline as a PDF file.
Search results

NOTE  The tweets you can capture is determined by Twitter. NCapture relies on the Twitter API which provides a sampling of tweets. This may result in a capture of different tweets to what you see in a browser.

In Twitter, when you search for Tweets containing a keyword or hashtag, you can view of the results as:

  • Top Tweets  Displays the most popular Tweets, which you can capture as a dataset or a PDF. If you capture this view as a dataset, you get All Tweets.

  • All Tweets  Displays all Tweets, which you can capture as a dataset or PDF.

  • People you follow  Displays the search results from the Twitter accounts that you follow. You will not be able to capture this view as a dataset—only the web page as a PDF file.

When you capture search results as a dataset, Tweets from at least the past 7 days are captured. Older Tweets may not be captured, even if they are visible in your timeline.
User stream or List In Twitter, you can display the Tweets for a particular user or for a list (curated group) of Twitter users. When you capture these views, you can choose to exclude the Retweets.
Favorites In Twitter, you can mark a Tweet as a favorite. You can display a list of favorites, which you can capture as a dataset or a PDF.

When you capture Tweets as a dataset, information about the author of the Tweet—for example, Location and Number of Followers—is also included.

You can take multiple captures of the same Twitter content—for example, the same hashtag—at different times and then merge the content into a single dataset during import.

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How can I use Twitter in my research?

Here are some other ideas for finding Tweets to include in your research. You can:

  • Display Tweets posted by a person or organization that is relevant to your project—for example, you could display the Tweets posted by @world_wildlife.

  • Combine search terms or save searches to periodically check for new Tweets. For more information on advanced search techniques—refer to Twitter Help.

  • Mark selected Tweets as  'favorites' in Twitter. For example, you could review the results of a search in Twitter and favorite the Tweets that you want to include in your research.

  • Create Twitter Lists to group users who post on a particular topic. You do not need to follow the users that are included in the list.

  • Create your own hashtag and invite others to join you in a conversation on Twitter.

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About Retweets

A Retweet is a message that was created by one user and then shared by another user. Retweets include 'Retweeted by ...'  information below the Tweet in Twitter.  

Twitter keeps track of the number of Retweets for original Tweets. This information is included in the NCapture file and can be useful for analysis in your project.

When you capture Tweets posted by a particular user, you can choose to exclude the Retweets from the NCapture file.

When Retweets are captured and imported into NVivo, Retweet information is automatically added to the start of the Tweet to identify the original author—for example, RT @world_wildlife. Due to the 140 character limit in Twitter, this can sometimes mean that text at the end of the Tweet is cut off.

NOTE  There is another method of retweeting where the original Tweet is copied and pasted into a new Tweet and 'RT' is manually added at the beginning of the Tweet before being posted on Twitter. These are handled as Tweets rather than Retweets.

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Authorizing NCapture in Twitter

The first time you capture Tweets while signed into Twitter, you will be prompted to authorize NCapture. This gives permission to NCapture to collect content that you have access to.

The content that you can capture from Twitter is subject to privacy settings. You can only capture Tweets that are public or are from people who have granted you access to their private Tweets.

If you experience problems capturing Tweets as a dataset, you may need to clear the authorization and reauthorize.

For more information on what it means to authorize NCapture and to understand the privacy of your data, refer to Authorize NCapture.

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How many Tweets can I capture?

When you capture Twitter content as a dataset and import it into NVivo, you will generally get more than just the Tweets that were visible on the page. The number of Tweets that you can capture is determined by Twitter. The exact number may vary depending on the:

  • Number of Tweets available.

  • Amount of traffic on Twitter.

If you want to follow a particular topic over time, you may need to take multiple captures at periodic intervals. You can choose to import the additional capture files as new datasets or merge them with previously imported datasets.

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View the progress of your captures

As NCapture collects the Tweets, you can see the number of Tweets captured. You can stop a capture at any time

If you are using NCapture for Chrome, you can start another capture on a new tab without needing to wait until the first capture is complete.

To see the progress of all captures for your current Chrome session.

  1. Click the NCapture button at the top of your browser.

  2. Click the Show capture progress page link—this page shows you the status of all captures for your current Chrome session.

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How do I stop a capture?

There may be times when you want to stop the capture process before it has finished—for example, if you want to limit the number of Tweets you capture for a popular or trending topic. NCapture will stop collecting further data and will create a file with the data already captured.

To stop a capture in Internet Explorer—click the Stop button.

To stop a capture in Chrome:

  1. Click the NCapture button at the top of your browser.

  2. Click the Show capture progress page link—this page shows you the status of all captures for your current Chrome session.

  3. Click the Stop button for the capture that you want to stop.

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