Methods Bites

Blog of the MZES Social Science Data Lab

Collection, Management, and Analysis of Twitter Data

2022-06-02 18 min read tutorials Andreas Küpfer

As a highly relevant platform for political and social online interactions, researchers increasingly analyze Twitter data. As of 01/2021, Twitter renewed its API, which now includes access to the full history of tweets for academic usage. In this Methods Bites Tutorial, Andreas Küpfer (Technical University of Darmstadt & MZES) presents a walkthrough of the collection, management, and analysis of Twitter data. Continue reading

Survey data collection from start to finish

2022-04-11 22 min read instructionals Joshua Hellyer

Surveys have long been a staple of social science research on individuals’ attitudes and behaviors. In recent years, however, we have witnessed a strong shift from secondary analyses of large general social surveys toward smaller, more targeted primary data collections. This development has been accompanied by the increasing availability of affordable and easy-to-implement surveys using online access panels. While the entry barriers to original survey-based research are now likely lower than ever before, it still comes with notable methodological, administrative, and logistic challenges. To help aspiring survey researchers navigate this process, this Methods Bites Instructional by Joshua Hellyer (MZES, University of Mannheim) provides a comprehensive guide to survey data collection with online access panels. Continue reading

Telling Stories with Data: Insights into Data Journalism

2021-11-12 10 min read instructionals [Yannik Buhl]

Telling stories with data is one of the most important things to do for almost everyone working with data analyses. Why? Because its goal is reaching the audience one wants to reach. If one succeeds therein – be it, for example, average news consumers or academics in a specific field –, the underlying data analysis will more probably have a lasting impact. A good story drags the audience into your analysis. In this Methods Bites Tutorial, Yannik Buhl offers a recap of his workshop “Telling Stories with Data: Insights into Data Journalism” in the MZES Social Science Data Lab during Spring 2021. It focuses on the important steps to tell a thorough story based on data analyses – and how scientists and data journalists can learn from each other. Continue reading

Using Geospatial Data in R

2021-06-11 17 min read tutorials [Stefan Jünger Denis Cohen]

The use of geospatial data – data that can be mapped using geographic information systems (GIS) – has become increasingly widespread in the social sciences. Applications not only extend to the analysis of classical geographical entities (e.g., policy diffusion across spatially proximate countries) but increasingly also to analyses of micro-level data, including respondent information from georeferenced surveys or user trace data from Tweets. In this Methods Bites Tutorial, Stefan Jünger (GESIS) and Denis Cohen (MZES) show how to retrieve, manage, and visualize geospatial data in R. Continue reading

Generalized Additive Models: Allowing for some wiggle room in your models

2021-05-10 8 min read tutorials [Sara Stoudt]
Generalized additive models (GAMs) have become an important tool for modeling data flexibly. These models are generalized linear models where the outcome variable depends on unknown smooth functions of some predictor variables, and where the interest focuses on inference about these smooth functions. In this Methods Bites Tutorial, Sara Stoudt (Smith College) offers a hands-on recap of her workshop “Generalized Additive Models: Allowing for some wiggle room in your models” in the MZES Social Science Data Lab in March 2021. Continue reading

Extracting Emotions from Faces with Face++ (and Microsoft Azure)

2021-04-23 13 min read tutorials [Theresa Küntzler]

Images are an increasingly used data source in the social sciences. One application is to extract features from human faces using machine learning algorithms. This blog post provides a guide on using APIs for this task, specifically how to access the services offered by Face++ and the Microsoft Face API. The post walks you through (1) how to gain API access credentials, (2) how to call the Face++ API from R, and (3) how to handle the output. It is based on the talk by Theresa Küntzler, who introduced the participants of the MZES Social Science Data Lab on May 12, 2020, to Extracting Emotions (and more) from Faces with Face++ and Microsoft Azure. Continue reading

regplane3D: Plotting 3D regression predictions in R

2021-03-19 19 min read tutorials [Denis Cohen Nick Baumann]

The interpretation and presentation of empirical findings from (generalized) linear models has come a long way in the social sciences. Researchers increasingly visualize substantively meaningful quantities of interest such as expected values, first differences, and average marginal effects and consistently include uncertainty estimates in the form of analytical, simulation-based, or bootstrapped confidence intervals. However, existing interpretations and presentations are typically restricted to bivariate patterns which show (changes in) expected values as function of a single predictor, holding all else constant. This can be a significant limitation, especially when substantive inquiries focus on the interplay of two variables in predicting an outcome. To interpret and visualize such applications effectively, researchers must extend their presentations to include a third dimension. In this Methods Bites Tutorial, Denis Cohen and Nick Baumann introduce and showcase the regplane3D package, a tool for plotting 3D regression predictions in R. Continue reading

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