Who’s Passionate About #OpenAccess? Interactive Map of 1000+ Twitterers Using The Hashtag


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Our map of Science Communicators based on utilization of the #scicomm hashtag was very popular and we’ve been asked to create maps for more hashtags. We decided that a map of Twitterers using #openaccess would be useful, as the movement to free research publication access is gaining momentum, with the associated #academicspring hashtag also being used. These maps show trends regarding the location and interests of the Twitterers, and perhaps more importantly they help people to connect with others in their geographic region.

Since May 30th 2011, when we started tracking the #openaccess hashtag 11 months ago, it has been used almost 43,000 times by 12,000 Twitterers. Google Maps limits the number of items on each map to 1,000, so we chose to show the top users, corresponding to those who have used the #openaccess hashtag 4 or more times in this 11 month period. We actually got flack from the last post as some people who didn’t use the #scicomm hashtag didn’t get mapped. These complaints are great because it shows people care and we want to make the maps better. Our suggestion? Find/create/use more hashtags in your posts if you are passionate about a topic, and make sure your Twitter profile lists your location in a way that is recognizable by software (e.g., London, UK). Adding people manually to these maps is incredibly laborious and unfortunately we can’t do it at this time.

We did a quick check of the overlap between the top 1000 #scicomm users and the top 1000 using #openaccess. We were surprised that the overlap is low, only 67/1000, or 6.7% use both hashtags regularly. We have still not perfected our method of geographic analysis so we will provide our initial thoughts on eyeball comparisons of the two maps (you can, too, by looking at each on Google in browser tabs: #openaccess #scicomm). There appear to be more people using the #openaccess in Japan and South America than #scicomm, and the reverse is true in Australia. Perhaps the topic is more important in these areas due to sensitivity to subscription costs? Again, we’d love it if a GIS expert wants to play with the KML files and provide more than an anecdotal analysis, both are accessible as a link found near the top of the Google Map.

We were curious as to the identity of these Twitterers, especially with the low overlap with #scicomm, so we did a word cloud based on their Twitter Bios (not their Tweets) and it is seen below. The top five words are research, university, science, access, and library. Not surprisingly, many work in these areas, and librarians are passionate about the topic. Some also use the hashtag #oa which we did not track as it is too short and will have a lot of noise from other topics.

This map is meant as a starting resource, not a complete list of everyone involved in the movement, and we hope it sparks more connections, analysis, and advancement of the initiative. While creating global maps of Twitterers using Google maps is limited, we can create maps restricted to a geographic area, or ones with more data which can be read by programs like Google Earth (or any program that can read XML files). Let us know what you’d like us to map, contact us or leave a comment below.

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