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Call for Final Papers

The Division Media Use Research is looking for committed students planning to write their final paper (especially master theses) on one of the following topics:

  • Bachelor Thesis (Digital Media and Technology) or Master Thesis in the field of "Data Analytics": In different research projects of the Institute for Media and Communication Studies phone surveys take place on a regular basis. Here, it is a key challenge to motivate the persons called to participate, in order to maintain the representativity of the data set (as measured by the "response rate") at the highest possible level. These projects keep big data sets (several 100.000 cases each) that include a range of meta information regarding call attempts (day of the week, time of day, number of call attempts, previous results of the call, features of interviewers etc.). The subject of the thesis is to analyze those metadata regarding patterns that allow for prognoses of positive (interview participation) and negative (denial) results. Hence, rules could be derived that will facilitate and optimize the recruitment of participants for future surveys in communication studies.
  • Secondary Analysis of Political Online Participation of Young People: One of the research activities in research group 13 of the Weizenbaum Institute focuses on the issue of factors and forms of political participation online, especially among young people. In this context, we have several current data sets at hand, which include information on media usage behavior, motivations, civic ideals as well as on typical socio-economic variables, especially of adolescents and young adults. The state of research of this topic is diverse. However, only very few studies concentrating on the impacts of factors such as place of residence (for instance city/ country) as well as education and migrant background on the motivation and forms of political participation have been conducted or made available so far. These and/ or other issues could be focused on within the scope of a master thesis by means of a quantitative or mixed-method approach. Please note that the data sets have only been labeled in German language so far and German language skills would be necessary. Should you be interested, please contact Prof. Dr. Martin Emmer.

Furthermore, it is possible to write a final thesis within the scope of the research project "Overcoming crises in public communication about refugees, migration, foreigners" (NOHATE).

  • Master Thesis: Secondary Analysis of Articles and User Comments in Social Media on the Topic Area of "Foreigners, Migration, Refugees" (Project NOHATE): Within the scope of the project NOHATE financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) the Division Media Use Research holds a number of data sets, i. e. articles and comments of media websites and social media concerning the topic area of "Foreigners, Migration, Refugees" that are ready to be evaluated by means of a content analysis. The correlation of media articles and corresponding comments would be of specific interest: Do certain features of a media article - such as length, included frames, news factors, key words etc. - have an impact on the kind and content of the corresponding user comments? Which entries are especially responded to with hate and propaganda? Which kind of media presentation could lead to a more differentiated discussion? Regarding these aspects, it is possible to develop hypotheses based on different theories, that could be evaluated via a quantitative content analysis and by means of the given data sets. Should you be interested, please contact Prof. Dr. Martin Emmer/ Christian Strippel.

The following topics are recommendations for final papers related to the research focus “Digital Africa”. Further ideas within this research area are welcome. The division supports scholarship-applications for research stays in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

  • State of Research on ICT Penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa: New information and communication technologies (ICT) have been regarded as impellers of development in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the light of the current “mobile-communications boom”. However, assured knowledge of lasting changes resulting out of new technologies are limited. Basic data on the availability and the application of ICT exist, but are highly fragmented. Against this background, the question arises what knowledge can be derived out of the current state of research. For example, what information does research provide about the ways ICT effect the social structure (regarding gender, marginalized groups etc.) in the region? A thorough review of the existing studies would provide an important groundwork for further research activities. English is the preferred language for this paper. The requirements for this paper can be adjusted to either bachelor or master standards.

  • Content Analysis about Coverage of Refugees in German and Kenyan Media: For many weeks it seemed as the refugee crisis was the only topic in the German media. The humanitarian debacle was accompanied by a very emotional and polarized public debate, that was particularly coined by proponents of the so-called “welcome culture” and the Pegida supporters. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya has been giving refuge to hundreds of thousands Africans due to the conflicts in neighboring Somalia and South Sudan. With 350.000 registered refugees, the refugee camp Dadaab at the border to Somalia is the biggest in the world. However, have Kenyan journalists paid as much attention to this topic as their German colleagues? A content analysis could shed light on the similarities and differences in the national media coverage on refugees in both Germany and Kenya. A longitudinal design would provide particularly interesting information. In this context it could for instance be analyzed whether Islamist terrorism (the attacks in Paris, the massacre at the Kenyan university Garissa) affected the public media in the countries. English is the preferred language for this paper. This final paper topic is recommended for master students.

  • Case Studies: ICT and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Whereas some innovative ICT applications in SSA, such as the mobile banking system MPesa or the crowdsource-platform Ushahidi, could draw some attention, others exist only in the shadows. For example, digital crowd-sourced mapping in slum areas remain underexposed in political communication studies, even though it must in the widest sense be seen as a type of political participation, and has been crucial for the empowerment of the population. By means of ICT the residents of the slums are taking responsibility for tasks the state cannot provide. Case studies may also be carried out in other fields such as Health, Governance or Business. A qualitative survey of people involved in specific projects could grant access to the organizational form and the performance of ICT projects in SSA. English is the preferred language for this paper. The requirements for this paper can be adjusted according to bachelor or master standards.

The amount of studies on all these topics is still quite limited. For a bachelor thesis we for instance recommend literature reviews on the state of research, for master theses explorative studies. Interested students can contact Prof. Dr. Martin Emmer.