Skip to main content

Online Communication Analysis: Methods for Multimodal, Networked Communication

Final Report Summary - ONCOA (Online Communication Analysis: Methods for Multimodal, Networked Communication)


Summary description of the project objectives

The overarching objective of the proposed project “Online Communication Analysis: Methods for Multimodal, Networked Communication” (OnCoA) is to develop an interdisciplinary methodological and theoretical approach to online communication in the field of media and communication studies that aims to provide applicable solutions for current and future demands in digital media and communication analysis.

The term ‘online communication’ comprises here any communicative interaction/action on and by means of the Internet. Therefore, the project focuses on methods and underlying theories/paradigms regarding the analysis of multimodal, networked online communication where text, audio, pictures and video represent different albeit joined linguistic modes that build coherent content.

The project’s main objectives are:

Objective 1: to develop dynamic matrices for integrative and interdisciplinary methodologies.
Objective 2: to conduct a case study of multimodal data analysis in the field of online news media.
Objective 3: to harvest the Marie Curie Fellowship in terms of the fellow’s career development and for sustainable knowledge transfer between the outgoing and returning host institutions.

Description of the work performed since the beginning of the project

The project was divided into eight different tasks over the time span of 24 months. During the first phase of the project six out of altogether eight tasks were addressed and successfully accomplished. The last phase focused on tasks seven and eight whilst further pursuing also task six.

Task number eight entailed the specific training on quantitative content analysis and information retrieval techniques. Task seven finally represented the application of the different training outcomes, as well the literature reviews, into the conduct of a case study focusing on multimodal online communication analysis. Task six, on the other hand, entailed the further development as well as initiation/enactment of the “Online Research at Large” programme.

The second phase provided the fellow with the opportunity not only to broaden her network of contacts and collaborators, but also to acquire as well as gain expertise in the field of Big Data analysis, which is closely connected to her project’s area and also represents increasing opportunities for funding and project collaboration within and outside academia. One result of the expert interviews conducted in Phase 1 (Task 2), was the increasing importance of data journalism and Big Data for online news media production. Furthermore, the fields of information retrieval and statistical text analysis—which represent core areas of the fellow’s applied research—can be seen as vital in the field of Big Data analysis. In fact, these fields have always been focusing on Big Data analysis, albeit under a different name.

The acquired and broadened skills during the second phase of the project enabled the fellow to work on the case study which focused on quantitative, multimodal analysis.

A description of the main results achieved

- The development and design of an innovative approach to analyse multimodal online communication by combining quantitative text retrieval and content analysis techniques with semi-automated, qualitative picture analysis (⇒ see section 2, outputs 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26).
- The integration of the “user perspective” into traditional information retrieval and text analysis studies (⇒ see section 2, outputs 1, 2, 13, 14, 24).
- The critical introduction and discussion of Big Data in social sciences, as well as developing mixed method approaches for Big Data analyses that go beyond user behavior descriptions, and integrate sentiment and opinion analysis as well as predictive modeling (⇒ see section 2, outputs 6, 7).
- The strategic enlargement of the fellow’s network and collaboration partners in both North-America and Europe with both research arena’s leading scientists and institutions (e.g. University of Toronto, Stanford University, University College London, London School of Economics).
- The conceptual development and initiation of a cross-continent knowledge transfer programme, called “Online Research at Large”. A first exchange has successfully been implemented, two more are in a planning stage. Moreover, a supporting funding institution (GRAND NCE) was found and acquired.
- The initiation and moderation of a knowledge transfer and collaboration network among Marie Curie Fellows based at UCL (14 at the moment) and across London.

Attached documents: Include where appropriate, documents containing diagrams or photographs and the project logo, illustrating and promoting the work of the project. attach documents Print

2. PROJECT OBJECTIVES FOR THE PERIOD

Please provide an overview of the project objectives for the reporting period in question, as included in Annex I of the Grant Agreement. These objectives are required so that this report is a stand-alone document.

Please include a summary of the recommendations from the previous reviews (if any) and indicate how these have been taken into account.

The project’s main objectives were:

Objective 1: to develop dynamic matrices for integrative and interdisciplinary methodologies.
Objective 2: to conduct a case study of multimodal data analysis in the field of online news media.
Objective 3: to harvest the Marie Curie Fellowship in terms of the fellow’s career development and for sustainable knowledge transfer between the outgoing and returning host institutions.

All three objectives were dynamically interlinked with each other, as well as with the eight different tasks of the project (see attached Figure 1). The incremental and cyclic development approach which was chosen initially and included the option to re-visit first results of the research carried out at later stages based on new experiences and results, proved to be very useful. As was stated in the first project report, this particular approach was chosen given the dynamic nature of online communication per se. Hence researchers have to continuously adapt to new forms of online communication that are instilled by and carried out on new platforms, tools, and mobile devices. This was particularly relevant in the aforementioned case of the Big Data focus which was included during the second Phase of the project, based on a growing interest from academic as well as non-academic stakeholders, and on the fact that OnCoA already included this aspect in its theoretical and methodological outline.