Current research projects

Multilevel Flows of Political Communication on Facebook - A Computational Approach Using Individual Digital Traces

On social media, users are not just passive consumers of political content provided by professionals such as parties or candidates, but actively shape the political discourse by means of comments, recommendations, references and other forms of expression. In contrast to traditional offline media or web sites, the co-construction of the political discourse on social media manifests itself in digital traces of professional communicators and regular users: communication content, social connections, and meta-data. Scholars are now able to analyze socially and politically relevant communication on social media in unprecedented breadth and depth. The overall objective of the project is a comprehensive analysis of the communication activities on political Facebook pages. Special attention is paid to the multilevel and dynamic nature of the communication environment. Going beyond previous work on aggregate audience reactions, the results will be able to investigate underlying causal, individual-level processes, which are at the core of media effects theories.

The research project is based on a large-scale automated data collection which was carried out during the Bundestag election year 2017. The collected data set includes almost all communication activities on about 400 Facebook pages from political parties and candidates including posts over a period of 6 months.

Research staff:
Dr. Marko Bachl, Universität Hohenheim
Prof. Dr. Michael Scharkow, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Yannick Winkler, Universität Hohenheim/Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

This research is supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation with 150.000 Euro via Grant No.


Latest publication:
Winkler, Y., Bachl, M., & Scharkow, M. (2022). Individual users’ participation on political Facebook pages. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media, 2.


Gender-Citation Diversity in Communication Science

Gender diversity and the fair representation of women in science are among the most discussed science policy issues of our time. Gender diversity and gender-fair citation practices are required to provide society with the best possible scientific results and to let it benefit from science to fully exploit the potential of science, because scientists are authors, reviewers, laboratory assistants When scientists of different genders select slightly different research topics, choose different ways of speaking to study participants in interviews or labs, study different groups of people, or highlight different findings, they affect their subject and the results of their research differently. If only people from a particular group research and are quoted, only the interests and interpretations of that particular group will be represented in society at large. On the other hand, the more diverse the group of researchers, the more likely it is that different perspectives will be represented. A more diverse group of researchers, on the other hand, increases the likelihood that different perspectives will be represented, and these perspectives are necessary to ensure research quality. Let's imagine, for example, a scientific study on the need for online data protection, on health apps or on children's media skills. Would researchers of one gender come to the same conclusions as a diverse gender group? We do not think and are convinced that gender influences the nature of research. If research is quoted and received in a gender-balanced manner, this helps to bring the different perspectives into research and thus into society. A balanced citation practice supports research that represents different genders and can thus also make a representative contribution to society. The aim of the joint project "Gender-Citation Diversity" of the University of Hohenheim and the University of Mainz is to increase the visibility and citation diversity of the subject of communication science for scientific specialist articles , for scientific conferences and for science communication in social media.

Research staff:
Prof. Dr. Michael Scharkow & Laura Heintz, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz
Prof. Dr. Sabine Trepte & Maike Braun, Universität Hohenheim

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF); Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)