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A Special Issue of Asian Journal of Communication

Introducing Computational Social Science for Asia-Pacific Communication Research

Guest Editors:

  1. Prof. Jonathan Zhu, City University of Hong Kong (Email: [email protected])
  2. Dr. Taiquan “Winson” Peng, Michigan State University (Email: [email protected])
  3. Dr. Hai Liang, Chinese University of Hong Kong (Email: [email protected])

Computational social science (CSS), an emerging paradigm of research, has penetrated into communication research largely due to two intertwined technological advancements: the widely available human behavioral data and the increasingly sophisticated as well as accessible computational methods (Lazar et al., 2009). To respond to the emerging trends, several influential journals have recently published special issues on challenges and opportunities that CSS has brought to social sciences in general and communication in particular, for example, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science’s special issue on “Toward computational social science: big data in digital environments” in 2015 and Journal of Communication’s special issue on “Big data in communication research” in 2014.

While pioneering, these publications did not directly address the specific conceptual, methodological, and technological challenges and opportunities in the application of CSS methods in Asia-Pacific communication research. Such challenges and opportunities are deeply rooted in the linguistic, cultural, and political diversity in Asia-Pacific societies. To fill the gap, the current special issue brings together a community of active researchers to introduce CSS for Asia-Pacific communication research. We aim to focus on the following questions:

  • What are CSS methods that are particularly relevant to and useful for Asia-Pacific communication research?

  • How can the CSS methods identified above be correctly and efficiently applied to address communication phenomena in Asia-Pacific societies?

  • What are the major strengths and limitations of the above CSS methods in Asia-Pacific communication research?

  • How can we blend the above CSS methods with traditional social science methods in Asia-Pacific communication research?

Scope of the Special Issue

We do not intend to make the special issue as a comprehensive reference of CSS. Instead, our focus is to introduce and demonstrate a carefully selected set of CSS methods that are particularly relevant to Asia-Pacific communication research. The methods of interest for this special issue may include, but are not limited to:

  • Data collection methods: server log analytics, web scraping, online experiment, and use of online archiving/indexing data (e.g., Google Trends, Google ngrams, etc.). Combined use of CSS method(s) and traditional method(s) (e.g., survey, content analysis, experiment, etc.) are welcome and appreciated.

  • Data analysis methods: temporal analysis, spatial analysis, network analysis, text analysis, and visual analysis. These are broad categories, each consisting of many specific methods or algorithms. For example, text analysis includes sentiment analysis, topic modeling, deep learning, among others. We prefer focusing on specific and relevant methods to general or broad ones.

  • Data visualization methods: static infographics, interactive visualization, etc. Works that demonstrate how visualization assists, enhances, and even revolutionizes data analysis and interpretation are particularly welcome. If necessary, author(s) of such paper(s) will be required to provide online supplements of interactive visualizations.

No matter which method(s) the author(s) of each submission choose(s) to focus on, all submitted papers should address at least the following three points:

  • Description of the specific methods in a clear, precise, but non-technical style. In addition, the author(s) should provide a (brief) review of how the method(s) have been used in social science research in general and communication research in particular.

  • Evaluation of the merits and limitations of the method(s) in comparison with the corresponding traditional method(s). The evaluation of the chosen method(s) should be empirically-based and the comparison with traditional method(s) be as concrete as possible.

  • Application of the method(s) to a non-trivial conceptual question in Asia-Pacific communication research. Authors are encouraged to apply the method(s) in a comparative context, either within Asia-Pacific or with counterpart(s) elsewhere, to ensure the generalizability of the study. For the same purpose, authors should avoid a “single-event” approach that focuses on a breaking event in a particular location. Submission of Extended Abstracts and Full Papers:

  • All authors are required to submit an extended abstract of their paper by May 15, 2017. Extended abstracts should have a length of 500-800 words (excluding tables, figures, and references). Extended abstracts should be submitted in a pdf format through email to [email protected].

The special issue editors will screen the extended abstracts for fit with the above descriptions. Authors will be informed about acceptance or rejection of the extended abstracts by the end of May 2017. Authors who are invited to submit full papers will need to submit their full papers by August 1st, 2017. Each full paper of the special issue should not exceed 5,000 words (excluding tables, figures, endnotes, and references). Full papers should be submitted following the Asian Journal of Communication standard submission process (see

Important Dates:

  • Extended abstract submission deadline May 15, 2017
  • Full paper submission deadline August 1st, 2017
  • First round review decisions September 1st, 2017
  • First round revisions due October 1st, 2017
  • Second round review decisions November 1th, 2017
  • Second round revisions due January 1st, 2018
  • Final editorial decision February 1st, 2018

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