Call for Papers and Book Reviews: Methodological approaches to the study of virtual environments and online social networks

The Graduate Journal of Social Science (GJSS) announces a Call for Papers and Book Reviews for a special issue dealing with methodological approaches to the study of virtual environments and online social networks. The journal encourages the submission of work by MSc/ MA/MS, MPhil, PhD students and junior academics from all geographic regions. All papers are submitted to a blind peer review process. The special issue is scheduled for December 2011.

Papers:
The proliferation of virtual worlds such as The Sims, Second Life, World of Warcraft and of online social networks such as blogs or social networking applications (Facebook, LinkedIn, Hi5) has been met with an enthusiastic interest from researchers across disciplines. Scholars in anthropology, communication and cultural studies, economics, education, psychology and sociology have become increasingly involved in the study of such environments, bringing along not only discipline-specific questions
and theories, but also various methodological approaches.

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?

All papers must be submitted electronically by March 15, 2011 to <dddumitr@ucalgary.ca>. Articles should be between 5,000 – 8,000 words  in length (including footnotes but excluding references). Short essays (2,000 – 3,000 words) and book reviews on this topic are also welcome. All submissions must be anonymized and accompanied by the GJSS article submission form (which can be downloaded from the GJSS website). Please include an abstract, a short author bio and 3-5 keywords. For more information on the stylistic guidelines, please check the GJSS website at
http://gjss.org.

For any further inquiries and to submit an article, please contact Delia Dumitrica, special issue editor at <dddumitr@ucalgary.ca>.

Book Reviews:
We are also looking for reviews of books published between 2008-2010 dealing with methodological approaches to virtual worlds and online social networks. Ideally, reviewers have their own copy of the book. Book reviews should be between 1,000 – 1,5000 words and should not only describe the book, but also critically engage with the points raised. If you would like
to propose a book review for this special issue, please contact Delia Dumitrica, special issue editor at <dddumitr@ucalgary.ca>.