Comparative Studies of Internet Use: A Review of SSCI-Indexed Journal Articles, 1969–2019

Hui Zhao, Jun Liu


To map out the state of the art of comparative studies of Internet use and recognize the contributions and shortcomings in the current literature, we have used a four-dimension framework to conduct a review of journal articles indexed in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) in the field of communication studies in the Web of Science core collection between 1969 and 2019. Our findings describe comparative studies of Internet use as an increasingly diverse topic in terms of its widespread publication outlets across different (sub)fields in communication studies, along with emerging dimensions of comparison. Meanwhile, conventional pitfalls and limits remain, including the easily ignored consideration and justification of equivalence and comparability in the research object and the analytical method, as well as the remaining dominant cross-territorial perspective and quantitative methods. We offer corresponding proposals to overcome pitfalls and advance future comparative studies of Internet use and, in a broader sense, comparative communication research.


comparative research, Internet use, digital media use, review, equivalence, comparability

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