Call for Papers: Methodological approaches to the study of virtual environments…

…and online social networks

I just came across an interesting Call for Papers by the Graduate Journal of Social Science. As the title of this post indicates, it deals with methodological approaches to the study of virtual environments and online social networks. It therefore addresses one of the key questions I’ve been asking myself since I started my PhD. To my knowledge, no such compilation exists to date. The most accessible text that I have come across regarding this topic is Bernie Hogan’s Analyzing Social Networks via the Internet. If you’re interested, please have a look at the details below. Deadline for submission is March 15, 2011. I’m certainly looking forward to having a look at the full issue.

This special issue aims at mapping some of the methodological approaches to the study of virtual environments, and welcomes both theoretical and empirical analyses that address them. The interest here is in what methods graduate researchers choose to use, the problems they face in trying to use them and the ways in which these methods are being adapted in relation to these virtual sites of study. Graduate students doing empirical work on virtual worlds and online social networks from all disciplines are strongly encouraged to submit papers dealing with the processes of choosing, applying and critically evaluating their methods.

While we expect contributions to vary according to the particular focus of investigation, questions such as the following may be relevant: What are the advantages and disadvantages of these methods? Are such methods developed specifically for the study of virtual worlds and/or online social networks, or are they adaptations of traditional research methods in social sciences? Are there specific disciplines, theories, or academic frameworks that offer more suitable insights regarding such methods- or can using them suggest limiting the scope of this ‘new’ research environment?

Authors are encouraged to submit papers addressing questions such as:

  • How to choose a suitable method for the study of virtual worlds and/ or online social networks?
  • Methods for exploring the social and cultural aspects of virtual worlds and/ or online social networks.
  • Methods for exploring the technical aspects of virtual worlds and/ or online social networks.
  • Criteria for evaluating research on virtual worlds and/ or online social networks.
  • Simulations as research methods: problems, recommendations, evaluation.
  • Methods for collaborative research in virtual environments and/ or online social networks.
  • Ethical issues.
  • Immersion: do we need to be users of virtual worlds/ online social networks to study them?
via gjss.org

Hogan, B. (2008) Analyzing Social Networks via the Internet. In: N.Fielding, R.Lee and G.Blank (eds) The Handbook of Online Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.