Is Open Communication Scholarship a Promise or Peril? Preliminary Interviews With Qualitative Communication Scholars

Rukun Zhang, Jiankun Gong, Weipeng Hou, Amira Firdaus, Jinghong Xu


Formally initiated by the International Communication Association (ICA) in 2020, an open communication scholarship (OCS) movement has sparked much conversation within quantitative communication sciences. But why is OCS not more widely adopted in qualitative research? Do scholars think it brings more harm than good? This exploratory research focuses on how communication scholars perceive these questions. Using semistructured interviews with 40 scholars from the United States, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and China, we found that, in theory, most scholars support it; however, OCS practices and research environments are highly nuanced. Given the iterative nature of qualitative data analysis and the importance of context, subjectivity, and reflexivity, scholars prefer to share “condensed data” rather than “raw data.” They worry about the difficulties in data sharing, verifying, and reusing; the potential risks of identification; intellectual property rights; and informed consent. The implications of OCS in qualitative research are mixed, exemplified by debates among scholars on data quality, cost, flexibility, trust, and collaboration.


open science, open methodology, communication studies, qualitative research, interviews

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