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Call for Papers for the M&K Special Issue "Forschungssoftware in der Kommunikations- und Medienforschung: Entwicklung, Methodologie, Anwendung, Nachhaltigkeit"

Call for Papers for the M&K Special Issue "Forschungssoftware in der Kommunikations- und Medienforschung: Entwicklung, Methodologie, Anwendung, Nachhaltigkeit"

The thematic issue aims to bring together contributions that deal with overarching questions of the development, methodology, application or sustainability of research software in the field of media and communication science. Publishers: Andreas Hepp, Wiebke Loosen, Uwe Hasebrink

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 varied forms of research software are increasingly being used as well for the collection and evaluation of data. These can be simple scripts that make "digital traces" accessible to research, more complex self-developed programs for data collection, analysis and visualisation, or experimental online forums, platforms or simulations for observing behaviour and processes. Research software is used both in the context of qualitative and quantitative methods and can thus contribute to bridging the boundaries between the 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 procedures and technologies is created, about whose functionalities and fields of application as well as practical problems and limits hardly anything is known. There is a lack of both methodical and methodological debate as well as a lack of a critical reflection on 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 using commercial APIs and the development of corresponding algorithms. The fact that research software is often developed based on individual projects and questions poses additional challenges with regard to transparency and sustainable availability. In the training of methods, the use of (academic) research software has rarely been taught so far, 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 only just beginning. The thematic issue aims to stimulate such reflection.

Contributions are particularly welcome to 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 applied to research software and its use?
  • Where and for what purposes is sustainable development of research software appropriate and how can it be secured?
  • 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, deal with overriding questions of the development, methodology, application or sustainability of research software based on the concrete development and application of research software.

Anyone who would like to contribute to this issue is requested to send an extended abstract of the manuscript to the editorial office by the end of November 2019 (max. 6,000 letters incl. spaces). Based on the abstracts, the editorial team will develop a concept together with the editors 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 standard review procedure. The issue will be published in the first quarter of 2021.
 
Address: Redaktion Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, Christiane Matzen, c.matzen@leibniz-hbi.de

Photo by Shahadat Shemul on Unsplash.

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