It isn’t often that we, as students, have the opportunity to apply skills learned in class to real world problems. I, along with three other students in my Computer Science class, are lucky enough to have been given an opportunity to do so through a competition which we will be participating in, called the Big Data Competition.

The Big Data Competition is run by a non-profit organization called STEM Fellowship. STEM Fellowship runs a scientific journal that features original high school and university undergraduate student research. Our goal is to analyze real-world data about the online consumption and discussion of scientific publications, and to write a scientific paper discussing our findings. We will be getting terabytes of data from a company called Altmetric, which aggregates data about online activity surrounding scientific publications. Since a terabyte of raw data is equivalent to about eighty-five million pages, it would take over 300 years for us to manually read through and analyze it all. To solve this issue, we will be using skills learned in Computer Science to write a computer program that will do the heavy lifting for us. Using a programming language called Python, we can effectively teach the computer to read and recognize patterns in the data that we are given.

After brainstorming research ideas, we settled on analyzing the relationship between scientific papers and their corresponding activity on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Mendeley. Mendeley is an online community solely for saving and discussing scientific publications. We will be specifically investigating which topics get discussed more often over time and on which social networks, as well as which platforms generate the most engagement.

Our next step will be to write a properly formatted report on our analysis and findings. This will be our final product that will be submitted to STEM Fellowship for evaluation by a team of PhD and industry experts. This report is required to have properly structured and formatted sections such as the Background, Method of Research, Results of Research, and Conclusion. Here we will be applying skills learned in science classes completing lab reports, as well as conventional writing skills learned in English class. The winning team will have their report published in the STEM Fellowship journal.

We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to apply many skills learned in class to a real-world problem, and to report on our findings.

 

A small fraction of the data we’ll be analyzing

sethd

 

 

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