- Copyright Page
- About the contributors
- Communication in the Networked Age
- Networks and Information Flow: The Second Golden Age
- Rebooting Mass Communication: Using Computational and Network Tools to Rebuild Media Theory
- Propagation Phenomena in Social Media
- Dynamical Processes in Time-Varying Networks
- Partition-Specific Network Analysis of Digital Trace Data: Research Questions and Tools
- How Can Computational Social Science Motivate the Development of Theories, Data, and Methods to Advance Our Understanding of Communication and Organizational Dynamics?
- The New Dynamics of Organizational Change
- Online Communication by Emergency Responders during Crisis Events
- Studying Populations of Online Communities
- Gender and Networks in Virtual Worlds
- Understanding Social Dynamics Online: Social Networks, Social Capital, and Social Interactions
- The Analysis of Social Capital in Digital Environments: A Social Investment Approach
- Multiplying the Medium: Tie Strength, Social Role, and Mobile Media Multiplexity
- Revolutionizing Mental Health with Social Media
- The Neuroscience of Information Sharing
- Political Communication Research in a Networked World
- Modeling and Measuring Deliberation Online
- Moving Beyond Sentiment Analysis: Social Media and Emotions in Political Communication
- Dynamics of Attention and Public Opinion in Social Media
- A Satisficing Search Model of Text Production
- Studying Networked Communication in the Middle East: Social Disrupter and Social Observatory
- Mobile Space and Agility as the Subversive Partner
- One Foot on the Streets, One Foot on the Web: Analyzing the Ecosystem of Protest Movements in an Era of Pervasive Digital Communication
- Our Stage, Our Streets: Brooklyn Drag and the Queer Imaginary
- Digital Mapping of Urban Mobility Patterns
- Research on Mobile Phone Data in the Global South: Opportunities and Challenges
- The Ethics of Digital Research
- Digital Trace Data and Social Research: A Proactive Research Ethics
- A Practitioner’s Guide to Ethical Web Data Collection
- Responsible Research on Social Networks: Dilemmas and Solutions
- Unintended Consequences of Using Digital Methods in Difficult Research Environments
- Ethical Issues in Internet Research: The Case of China
- The Past and Future of Communication Research
Abstract and Keywords
While the large majority of published research on online communities consists of analyses conducted entirely within individual communities, this chapter argues for a population-based approach, in which researchers study groups of similar communities. For example, although there have been thousands of papers published about Wikipedia, a population-based approach might compare all wikis on a particular topic. Using examples from published empirical studies, the chapter describes five key benefits of this approach. First, it argues that population-level research increases the generalizability of findings. Next, it describes four processes and dynamics that are only possible to study using populations: community-level variables, information diffusion processes across communities, ecological dynamics, and multilevel community processes. The chapter concludes with a discussion of a series of limitations and challenges.
Benjamin Mako Hill is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication in the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Aaron Shaw is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
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