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New Software Reviews Section in M&K

New Software Reviews Section in M&K

Following up on our thematic issue "Research Software in Communication and Media Research" in M&K 1/2021, we are planning to introduce a new section for reviews of research software. For this purpose, we are asking for expressions of interest and submissions.

The importance of software for analysing empirical data is growing tremendously in communication and media research in the wake of digitization and media change. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for researchers to keep track of the numerous and increasingly rapid developments. In the field of computational communication science, not only methods and procedures from computer science are adapted for use in communication science. Software solutions for data evaluation are also developed independently according to the requirements of the subject. This does not only address the need for quantitative analysis of "big data". Qualitative-interpretative methods for evaluating small and medium-sized data sets as well as for multimedia content are also supported by a variety of software. In larger projects, researchers and platform providers are increasingly providing data access and evaluation methods via software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service (APIs). Beyond analysis, the need for software-supported solutions for further steps in the handling of research data is also being addressed - from the creation of data management plans and data collection to data protection-compliant anonymization and archiving. Research software often has to meet different requirements than commercial software solutions used in corporate contexts. At the same time, it is created under much more restrictive conditions than commercial software. The frustration of trying to use project-specific prototypes and moderately well-documented Github repositories for further work and the simultaneous joy of the free, open-source availability of an implementation of the latest methodological innovation are two sides of the same coin.

We consider software reviews to be a suitable form for gaining and maintaining an overview of these developments and for sharing one's own experiences from working with research software in the community. The reviews we are looking for can evaluate individual tools, programmes and function libraries as well as present an overview or a detailed comparison of several software products for solving a specific research step. Of course, we do not want advertising texts from developers, but reviews that present the essential features as well as advantages and disadvantages of software from the user's perspective.

A list of possible suggested topics illustrates the range we envision:
  • Software programmes for qualitative data analysis,
  • Overview of R libraries for performing topic modelling,
  • Use of NoSQL databases in social media research,
  • Access and data availability to the Twitter Academic API,
  • R vs. SPSS,
  • Software programmes for interview transcription,
  • Graph clustering software programmes and packages,
  • Tools for generating training data for supervised machine learning,
  • Use of crowdsourcing services such as Amazon Mechanical Turk for research data,
  • Comparison of literature management programmes.
M&K invites authors to submit reviews on such, similar or completely different questions concerning the use of software in the research process of communication studies.
Contributions should not exceed five pages (12,000 characters including spaces) and can be written in German or (for non-native speakers of German) in English. Colleagues who would like to contribute to this new section are asked to send their topic proposal to the editors in advance so that we can avoid any overlap of topics. Each review will go through an internal review process to ensure the quality of the text. Accepted reviews will be published open access in the next available issue.
For questions and comments as well as suggestions for the new section, please contact the editorial office Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, Christiane Matzen, c.matzen@leibniz-hbi.de.

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash


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