What Communication Scholars Write About: An Analysis of 80 Years of Research in High-Impact Journals

Elisabeth Günther, Emese Domahidi


Research topics, as indicators of the profession’s development, are central to the evaluation of academic practices in communication research. To investigate the main topics in our field, we trace the development of research topics since the 1930s by evaluating more than 15,000 articles from 19 academic journals based on an automated content analysis. Topic modeling reveals a high diversity from the early years on. Only a few journals show the tendency to focus on one topic only, whereas most outlets cover a broad variety and thus represent the field as a whole. Although our discipline is strongly interconnected with the changing media landscape, results show that communication research is characterized by high consistency. Although they have not provoked a revolutionary change, Internet and social media have become the most monitored media, parallel to—not displacing—classic media such as newspapers and TV.


research topics, high-impact academic journals, quantitative analysis, automated content analysis, computational methods, topic modeling, Internet, social media

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