Asian Journal of Communication, an SSCI journal with a dedicated focus on Asian communication research, has published a special issue co-edited by three members of the lab, Dr. Jonathan Zhu, Dr. Winson Peng, and Dr. Hai Liang. The full volume can be accessed at https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rajc20/29/3?nav=tocList.
The theme of the special issue is “Introducing Computational Social Science for Asia-Pacific Communication Research”. A community of active researchers from Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States outlines major computational methods closely related to communication research, including user analytics, online experiments, and text mining. They demonstrate how these computational methods can be applied to address theoretical and practical research questions in Asia-Pacific societies.
In the editorial of the special issue, the three co-editors highlight that computational social science (CSS) is not a mechanical piece-together of social science and computer science. CSS represents a paradigm shift in social science that pose equally, if not more, rigorous demands for theorization, research design, statistical analysis, and results presentation. Computational thinking and methods can offer communication researchers enriched opportunities to explore and can stimulate communication researchers to think outside the box. It is not beyond the reach of communication researchers to incorporate computational thinking and methods in their own research. They argue that some old-school principles in social science research (e.g. measurement validity, causal inference, unit of analysis) still rule in the age of CSS.
Dr. Jonathan Zhu is the Founding Director of the Web Mining Lab and the Chair Professor of Computational Social Science with a joint appointment at the Department of Media and Communication and School of Data Science at the City University of Hong Kong. Drs. Winson Peng and Hai Liang are Ph.D. graduates of the Web Mining Lab, who are now faculty members at Michigan State University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, respectively.