Top Journals in Communication According to Google Scholar in 2014

Google Scholar recommendations

If you are a lover of Google Scholar like me (I’ve written a few posts on becoming a G Scholar power user, in case you’ve missed them) you may have seen that the 2014 Google Scholar Metrics are out.

Here are the top 5 journals in Communication according to the ranking:

  1. New Media & Society
  2. Journal of Communication
  3. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
  4. Public Opinion Quarterly
  5. Public Relations Review

 

A complete list is here.

So how is it ranked? According to their site, Google uses h5 scores for h-index and h-medians. An h-index is described on the Google Scholar Metrics page as: “the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3.” They describe an h-median score as “the median of the citation counts in its h-core. For example, the h-median of the publication above is 9. The h-median is a measure of the distribution of citations to the articles in the h-core.” The h5, what they use, is that score for only articles published in the last 5 complete calendar years.

What’s covered in 2014′s list? Articles published between 2009 and 2013, indexed in Google Scholar in June 2014.  Here’s more detail on what is included.

There you have it. According to Google’s ranking system (that is, based on citation numbers as described above), those are the top journals in Comm. You can see all the different fields, browse, and search the Google Scholar Metric here.

For more information on G Scholar Metrics, here’s a release on the Google Scholar blog.

Cheers!

Matt

Facebook’s Controversial Study: Some Thoughts and Teaching Opportunities

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By now, you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the massive study conducted by Facebook, titled “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks” and published in the June Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences.  In the study, individuals, and lots of them (there were 689,003 unknowing participants) were exposed to positive or negative posts on the service. The study then looked to see if people who saw more negative posts in turn wrote more negative posts.  (As a side note, if you aren’t familiar with the idea of emotional contagion, a few semesters back I used an interesting book called “The Dragonfly Effect” in my Social Media and Social Change class. The book discusses the concept. Essentially, the value of the idea as argued by the book is that an emotion has a viral quality to it that can spread and that thus telling the emotional aspect of your cause is critical for spreading support for a social causes.)

I’m not here to comment on whether the study was ethical or not (certainly it wouldn’t have passed any IRB I’ve ever heard of). No matter your opinion, this case brings up a very interesting situation that will make for a great discussion opportunity in a research class when it comes time to talk ethics and IRB.

In my experience teaching research methods, students tend to be disinterested (see: blank stares, checking smart phones) in discussions of the ethical obligations of researchers and the IRB. And I understand. Unless a student is going to graduate school the likelihood that she will have to deal with IRB and research ethics outside of our class seems fairly low (unless of course they participate in studies). But this case is an important reminder to students that research does not have to be confined to the academic setting. While this study was published in an academic journal, the Washington Post reported that according to posts on the Facebook page of employee and co-author Adam D.I. Kramer, Kramer stated “… we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”

And what better way to find out than through social scientific study? Facebook has the access and clearly the ability through their algorithm to manipulate what you see. The fact that they are doing this doesn’t surprise me (They manipulate users’ news feeds in an attempt to optimize their service). And the anxiety and controversy it is causing doesn’t surprise me (It brings questions to the mind of many: How else are they manipulating me? And that breeds distrust). What I find interesting is that they make public their work and used it to contribute to scientific understanding. And, in a way, I’m glad they did because it creates teaching and learning opportunities for all of us.

Great Discussion Topic For Class #1: Informed Consent: What is it?  What consists of consent? And did users consent in this case? And what are the ramifications of not having informed consent?

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I tell my students Informed Consent means exactly that. You are INFORMED as to what the study is about and you CONSENT to participate. There was no overt informed consent. No one actively stated their agreement to participate in the study, and they were not informed about the study and what it entailed.

The obvious argument is that Facebook should have disclosed this information. From a professional communication perspective, this works. Clear. Transparent. Don’t violate the trust of your users.

If Facebook was concerned that negative content might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook, was their answer to enlist users in an experiment without their consent? Which is more likely to keep people from visiting Facebook?

I always tell my students that one of the ramifications for unethical or deceptive scholarly research is the threat to public trust of scholarship and scholarly institutions. The public has long heard about the Milgram studies and other ethically dubious research. And they’re nervous to participate in academic research for those reasons. People don’t like to be duped and the common perception is that scholarly research involves deception or trickery – that some hidden hand is manipulating them in an uneven interaction where the researcher is supposed to be blindly trusted. And this case with Facebook may produce the same wariness among the public psyche as those famous studies we all learn about in school. Indeed, it seems more and more people are concerned about privacy and what they’re giving up about their lives for gain of free services (e.g., concerns about Google and its Google Glass).

Now, Facebook argues that your consent to participate is implied as a result of agreement to the Facebook terms of service.  And it can be argued that if people knew they were being manipulated then the Hawthorne Effect would likely take place. And thus the experiment would have not been effective – thus, in the eyes of some, justifying the use of deception.

I’m sure that asking my students next time I teach communication research class: “What if you were one of the participants? How would you feel?” will produce a lively response. I’ll be sure to remind them that it is possible they were and they’ll never know it. I’m interested to know their informed opinion after we discuss these topics: What responsibility does Facebook have to disclose this information?

Great Discussion Topic For Class #2: IRB – what is it? Why is it important? And what needs to be reviewed and what can be exempted?

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Who is responsible for reviewing a study such as this and making sure it passes appropriate guidelines to ensure participant rights are considered and protected?

Of course, at a university we have the Institutional Review Board. We’ve all dealt with them at one time or another. But when a corporation does a study, shouldn’t that also fall under review of a governing board?

Interestingly, this study was done in part with researchers at Cornell. And a quick read of this Washington Post article gives the casual reader the impression that Cornell IRB reviewed and approved this research. However, you’ll note that it states that they approved the use of pre-existing data from Facebook. And that is something many of us have used in conducting our research on Facebook or Twitter. Simply, the data already exists and we’re going to analyze it. But that wasn’t the case in this study, really. Facebook conducted the experiment and now researchers from Cornell were going to analyze it. It seems there may have been some confusion about the fact that Facebook conducted the experiment. And clearly there was some confusion in how the media reported this / or how the public was interpreting it. Because that article was updated to note that Cornell did not approve manipulation in the study. And a follow up article discusses that Cornell’s IRB has made effort to clarify that the study was conducted prior to Cornell’s IRB was consulted.

Because it may seem confusing to someone not familiar with the distinction between conducting an experiment and using pre-existing data, it is a great opportunity to explicate this distinction to students and help them understand the notion of pre-existing data and public data and what can be exempt and what can’t be (and that even if something is going to be exempt, it still needs to go through IRB!).

Altogether, I’m sure this will really help students see why IRBs are in place, the importance of their role, and while it is a lot of work to go through the process, why it is important for ensuring public safety and trust.

These are just some thoughts and starting points. And this post is getting rather long. So I’ll leave it there. I’m looking forward to sharing this with my students and a more relatable and lively discussion when it comes time to talk ethics and IRB next time around. :)

What do you think? Was the study ethical? What other articles or questions would make for a great class discussion on this subject?

** Facebook logo Copyright Facebook. photos: Crystal Campbell | Neil Conway

Time Management: How to Read when You Don’t Have Time with These Tricks

I like to write posts every once in a while about productivity tips and tricks or time savers. That’s because I know I love reading these types of posts and believe maybe some of the tricks I’ve picked up along the way might help others.

I wrote the below blog post months ago but never got around to publishing it. When I came across the Umano  app yesterday I was so happy. I was also reminded about the below post I’d drafted.

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First, Umano. Umano is an app that reads popular articles to you (you can also listen on their website). Voice actors record the articles and you listen. Simple as that. You can build a playlist so the articles cycle through one after the other. There are advanced paid features but the free app works great for me. Since downloading the app I’ve listened to about 10 articles already and I love it. I can tell this is going to be one of my most used apps for getting content. Here’s why:

I’d been long using Pocket and my Mac computer to achieve what Umano does. But Umano uses real voices rather than the robot in your computer or phone. This is a huge time saver. I get lots more content when I’m doing things that prevent me from reading – like brushing my teeth or cooking.

So why not just use Umano? Because Umano only has articles that are popular. I like to read a lot of posts from academic blogs and social media blogs I follow, the type of niche content that wouldn’t make it into Umano. In fact, I listen to a lot of content – such as websites or documents. That’s why I use the Pocket app and the text-to-speech engine on my Mac. So here’s the original article I drafted up:

You want to read more but don’t always have time to. You know that staying up to date on the latest news and trends in your field is no longer an option. It’s a must.

But great articles go whizzing by on Twitter or your RSS reader that you never get around to reading. You’re busy.

That’s why having your computer or smartphone read to you is an efficient way to save time while staying up to date on the latest buzz.

Imagine having blog posts and news articles are read to you while getting ready for work in the morning, cooking dinner in the evening, working out at the gym, or.. well, anytime you don’t feel like staring at a screen.

A student told me about this about two years ago. He’d have his Mac read him the online assigned for my class while he cooked dinner. (I’ll explain how below). But since you can’t always be at your computer, there are smartphone apps that can read to you on the go.

The one I’ve used is called Pocket (formerly ReaditLater) for Android.

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With Pocket, you can use the TTS (text to speech) engine on your Android phone to have your articles read to you. (I’m not sure if the iPhone has a similar function – does anyone know?)

Pocket is a simple but extremely useful app that allows you to collect articles on websites, blogs, news outlets, and so forth. There’s a browser plugin for that. Installing the plugin adds a button on your browser. Click it whenever you’ve got an article open in your browser that you want to save for later.

All the articles you “pocket” are saved to your account and accessible on your app, on the web, or on your Mac via their app in the Mac App store.

Using Text-to-Speech with Pocket on Android

In the Pocket app on your Android, select the more button (in the top right. It looks like 3 buttons on top of each other). And then Listen.

It’s as simple as that.

Listening on a Mac computer

To get your Mac to read text to you, go to Settings -> Speech. Click “Speak selected text when the key is pressed.” Then select the key command you want to use. I use COMMAND+S. Now, go into MS Word or a website in your browser, highlight the text you want the computer to read and click your command key. Your computer will begin reading.

As I said, I’ve been doing this for about a year. The voice sounds like a robot. But it’s not hard to comprehend and I don’t mind it. The way I see it. Time is precious. Time management is learning to maximize time – and time spent doing mindless tasks like cleaning, getting dressed in the morning, etc. are perfect opportunities to get more out of time.

How do you “get more out of your day”? If you’ve tried having your computer or phone read articles to you, how have you found it?

logos: copyright of their respective companies.

ICA Conference Panel: Social Media Data

I’m back from a great trip to ICA! The conference was filled with inspiring and informative panels. And it was great to see colleagues and friends!

I want to take a quick minute to share a post summarizing a great panel I attended. Since Mary Joyce (@MetaActivism) summarizes the post here and the capabilities of the software, I thought I’d just let her do the talking. :) But first, a quick overview.

The panel was “Integrating Social Media Data Into Communication Research Using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).” I attended it Friday morning and was fortunate enough to get a chair. The room was packed with dozens of people sitting on the floor or standing in the back or along the wall. It seems interest in social media data in the field of communication research is on the rise.

Here’s a great summary of the presentations by Mary Joyce over at Meta-Activism.org.

Back from Poland and off to ICA 2014 in Seattle!

Hope everyone’s week is off to a great start! It is very busy here. Kelin and I just returned from a weeklong trip to Poland. We went to Krakow and Warsaw.

I’m leaving early Thursday morning to head the International Communication Association conference in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! If you are going to be at ICA in Seattle, feel free to stop by and see our poster session for our paper:

Dalisay, F., Kushin, M.J., Yamamoto, M. (May, 2014). The politically demobilizing role of conflict avoidance for participation, efficacy, and attention to information sources. Paper accepted for presentation at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, Seattle, WA.

Location & Time : Sat, at 4:30pm, in the Metropolitan Ballroom.

I hope to see you there!

Just for fun, I thought I’d share just a few of the many photos we took during our trip to Poland. I wish I remembered the names of all of the amazing historic buildings we saw to go along with the photos. I highly recommend visiting Poland, especially Krakow!   For each city, I also listed some highlights. Some photos go along with the highlights. Click the photos to enlarge them.

Krakow 

krakow theater

town square krakow

 

 

photos: Theater in Krakow, and the town square in Krakow

The Wawel Royal Castle

The Schindler factory (made famous by the Schindler’s List movie) – Although we didn’t get to go into the factory (which is now a museum), just being able to see it from the outside was an amazing experience.

Krakow Jewish Ghetto – We went through the location where the Nazis forced the Jewish population of Krakow to live in 1 of 2 walled in sections across the river from Krakow. This was near the Schindler factory.

 

Nowa Huta and the “Communist Bus Tour” – where we learned a ton about the history of the fight against communism in Poland, and got to tour Nowa Huta (the city of the New Steel Mill) which was a planned socialist city. I didn’t know much about how Poland won its power and the years of protest and bloodshed that led up to it, a good bit of which happened in Nowa Huta and during strikes in that city. Interestingly, a town square that was once called Stalin Square was renamed to Ronald Reagan square to honor his fight against communism.

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photo: in the distance you can see what looks like a large field. This was supposed to be a made man lake in Nowa Huta. But the USSR never completed it due to a lack of funds. However, some maps showed that the lake was there.

Warsaw

Nearly 90% of Warsaw was destroyed during World War II, including a systematic campaign by the Nazis to make an example of the city to the rest of Europe because the citizens of Warsaw tried to fight back against the Nazis. So most of the buildings are rebuilt. But the city took great care to replicate the buildings as closely as possible to the originals. Highlights included

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Photo: The Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Poland was a gift to Poland from the Soviet Union in the 1950s. It used to be named after Stalin.

The University of Warsaw

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Photo: The University of Warsaw main entrance

“Old Town”

mermaid statue

 

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photo: Mermaid statue in the old town square in Warsaw, 2) more of the old town’s center.

The Warsaw Uprising Museum – Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos because it was dark. But this experience was absolutely moving. It was one of the best museums I have been to. This museum is dedicated to the efforts of the Home Army (the small army of Warsaw citizens) who fought the Nazis during a 63 day campaign in 1944 as the Russians approached the city, pushing the Nazis back. After taking Warsaw, the Russians provided very little support for the Home Army and arrested many of their members. Leaders were imprisoned, many never to be seen again. The Russians downplayed the role the Home Army played in the battle for Warsaw. And much of what the Home Army did was not acknowledged until after the end of the Cold War.

 

That’s all for now. I hope everyone is having a great week!

- Cheers!

Matt

 

My 2014 Summer Plans: Social media planning for an international conference

It is hard to believe that the 2013-2014 academic year is over. Summer is upon us.

It was a super busy year. I had so many ideas for things I wanted to blog about, and never got around to: Like my final project in Communication Research where students build surveys and use iPads to collect survey data around campus. With summer here, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight my big plans for the summer.

The International Congress of Behavioural Optometry Social Media and Mobile App

International Congress of Behavioural Optometry  ICBO    Home

This summer I earned a grant via the Shepherd University Foundation at Shepherd University to complete some exciting and important volunteer work. I will be working to help the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) create and execute a social media plan for the International Congress of Behavioural Optometry, the premiere international conference in the optometric community. The conference is held every four years and this year’s event is in Birmingham, England in September. The Optometric Extension Program foundation, an international 503c non-profit, OEPF helps advance the discipline of optometry by helping educate optometrists and their staff in addressing learning related visual problems (including performance as well as concussions), sports vision, vision rehabilitation, etc. They also do outreach to the public about these issues.

Planning the social media is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work. And we are just getting started. A major component of “ICBO Social,” our social media efforts, will be creating a conference mobile app aimed at really bringing the conference experience alive with exciting engagement opportunities for attendees to interact with the conference and one-another.

While most conference apps simply provide a way to get the conference agenda on their smartphone, the ICBO Social app is so much more (we’ll be using DoubleDutch to create the app). The ICBO Social app is inherently social and aimed at interaction. The best way to describe ICBO Social is as a social media platform for mobile devices (available on Google Play and the App Store) that we are creating for and will be specifically used by conference attendees and exhibitors.

That creates opportunities for attendees to build profiles, connect with one another based on interest, share comments and photos to the activity feed, see what events others are attending and commenting on via the activity feed, like and comment on others’ posts, learn more about exhibitors, and build real connections with exhibitors through the interactive opportunities popular on many social media platforms.

It will be an easy-to-use, fun, engaging, and rewarding way to get the most out of the ICBO 2014 conference and build lasting relationships.

While the app is the centerpiece of the plan, there are a host of other components that could be their own blog posts themselves!

Over the summer, I will not be blogging as often. But I will post from time to time on my progress with ICBO Social along the way, as well as discuss other projects (I’ve got a few exciting research projects I’m working on), updates from my classes, and hopefully some fun posts about a few vacation trips I’ve got planned, etc. Not to worry –  I will be picking back up full swing with weekly or bi-monthly posts in the Fall.

In the meantime, keep in touch via Twitter or LinkedIn, blog comments, or email. I will see you all in a few weeks!

Sentiment Analysis using Content Analysis Software: Project Assignment

In the last two posts, I’ve been discussing the Yoshikoder sentiment analysis project in my Communication Research class here at Shepherd University.

My first post looked at the project in general. And the second, most recent post, looked at how to teach computer-assisted content analysis using the Yoshikoder computer-assisted content analysis software and the activities I provide my students to prepare them for the project.

I encourage you to check out those posts for background and set up! Ok, now on to sharing the assignment itself and providing a brief overview of it.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, the purpose of this assignment is to

1) give students a hands-on look under the hood of sentiment analysis – that is, to understand HOW it works and its flaws.

2) To teach students via hands=on experience about quantitative content analysis, particularly computer-assisted content analysis

3) To teach them how to conduct a computer-assisted content analysis using software (Yoshikoder)

So here’s the set up to the assignment (which you can see below). This hands-on learning project is based on a real brand and a realistic but made up scenario. I do this with both this assignment, and my first project in this class.  Specifically, I provide The Situation or Problem / Campaign goals and objectives (of an imaginary campaign that is ongoing or happened) / benchmarks / KPIs.

In this case, the situation had to do with a popular online retail brand and rising customer complains and dissatisfaction as the brand has grown beyond its core base of loyal customers in recent years.I’ve redacted the brand and the situation from the below assignment. But you can fill in your own.

I rely on Stacks (2011) model for writing the problem, goals, objectives.  While I provide the research objective(s) in my first project, in this project students must come up with the research objective(s) and RQ(s).

I then provide some benchmarks. In this scenario, at a certain point in time sentiment was strong (let’s say, 70% positive). And then after the hypothetical situation, it dropped (say, to 50%). The students have been recently introduced to the concepts of benchmarks and KPIs via a brief lecture, so this is their first experience with these concepts. They are given 1 KPI (let’s say 65% positive sentiment) against which to measure their success. Keep in mind that the situation assumes that a campaign already took place aimed at addressing decreased customer satisfaction and negative comments on Twitter addressed at the brand of choice. We are now seeking to assess whether this campaign that happened successfully increased sentiment towards the brand (at a deeper level, repaired relationships and the image of the brand among the online community).

There are other important considerations students must make:

1) Since we’ve discussed sentiment and its flaws, they need to think about the valence of sentiment (The AFINN dictionary scores terms from -5 to +5), and they need to research and understand how AFINN was designed and works (I provide some sources to get them started). If you’re not familiar with the AFINN dictionary, it was designed for sentiment analysis of microblogs.It is a free sentiment dictionary of terms you can download and use in Yoshikoder. 

For more details on the assignment, check out the assignment embedded below and the requirements for what must be turned in.

As I’ve noted in a previous post, this project isn’t perfect. But it is a fairly straightforward and accessible learning experience for students who are in their first semester of experiencing how research can be conducted. It covers a wide array of experiences and learning opportunities – from discussion of what sentiment is, to understanding its flaws, to understanding the flaws of quantitative content analysis, to learning to apply a number of key research terms, as well as providing exposure to how to write research reports. The project itself is bolstered by several lectures, it comes about 1/2 way through the semester, and takes several days in the classroom of hands on learning. Students of course finish the writing up outside of class. But we do the analysis all in class to ensure students are getting my help as the “guide on the side.”

My previous post covers some activities we do to build up to this assignment.

So that’s all for now! Please feel to use this assignment, to modify it, and improve it. If you do, come back and share how you have or how you would improve upon it and modify it in the comments below!

If you want to know more about my Communication Research class, please see this post which includes the syllabus.