M&K Special Issue "Research Software in communication and media research"


M&K Special Issue "Research Software in communication and media research"

Call for Papers

Proposals are invited for papers for a special issue of M&K on the theme of "Research Software in communication and media research: Development, methodology, Application, Sustainability".

With the digitalisation of media and communication technologies and the advancing deep mediatisation of society, digital methods, computational social sciences and digital humanities have gained in importance for communication and media research. In the field of classical methods of empirical social research, the most diverse forms of research software are increasingly being used for both the collection and evaluation of data as well. These can be simple scripts that make "digital traces" accessible to research, more complex self-developed programs for data collection, evaluation and visualization, or experimental online forums, platforms or simulations for observing behaviour and processes. Research software is used in both qualitative and quantitative methods and can thus contribute to bridging the gap between these two methodologies, as the current discussion about "digital methods" shows.

The majority of such research software is developed within the framework of individual research projects and with a view to their specific questions and practical framework conditions. In this way, an unmanageable variety of processes and technologies is created, about whose functionalities and fields of application, but also practical problems and limits hardly anything is known: There is a lack of both methodical and methodological discussion, of a critical reflection of research software. The discussion about "tool criticism", for example, shows that software is not simply a neutral tool, but that data is pre-structured in a certain way and guided by interests through the use of commercial APIs and the development of corresponding algorithms. The fact that research software is often developed on the basis of individual projects and questions poses additional challenges with regard to transparency and sustainable availability. In methods training, the use of (academic) research software is rarely taught, and only a few didactic materials are available. The question of the extent to which certain types of research software are associated with individual research paradigms also needs to be discussed more intensively. While research software is spreading rapidly in communication and media research, reflection on it is still in its infancy.

The aim of this issue is to stimulate such reflection. Contributions are particularly welcome on the following questions, which always relate to software for communication and media research:

  • What are the challenges in the development and use of research software?
  • What research ethical requirements should be placed on research software and its use?
  • Where and for what purposes is sustainable development of research software appropriate and how can it be ensured?
  • How can research software be integrated into teaching and which didactic peculiarities and challenges have to be considered?
  • What is the relationship between digital methods and the classical canon of methods or is there a specific methodology of digital methods and what does this mean for research software?

We are therefore looking for contributions that - if necessary based on the concrete development and application of research software - deal with overriding questions of the development, methodology, application or sustainability of research software.

Anyone wishing to contribute to this issue is requested to send an Extended Abstract of the manuscript to the editors by the end of November 2019 (max. 6,000 letters incl. spaces). On the basis of the abstracts, the editorial team will draw up a concept and invite the authors to submit a manuscript by the end of March 2020. The acceptance of the manuscripts will be decided according to M&K's usual review procedure. The issue will be published in the 1st quarter of 2021.

Address: Editor Media & Communication Science, Christiane Matzen, c.matzen@leibniz-hbi.de

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