Family Tree of Internet Studies
What does â€˜Internet studiesâ€™ entail as a field of social science research? We aim to answer the question by mapping research themes, theorization and methodology of Internet studies based on 27,000+ articles published in SSCI and A&HCI journals over the last 10 years. In analyzing the articles, we adopt a â€˜bottom-upâ€™ approach â€“ classifying keywords of the Internet studies without any a priori categorization â€“ to identify the boundaries, major divisions, and basic elements of the field talis qualis. The research strategy results in a number of expected as well as surprising patterns and trends. Internet studies have evolved into a viable field that has witnessed a booming decade. The field is clustered around four primary research themes: e-Health, e-Business, e-Society, and Human-Technology Interactions. Two or three sub-themes with different research foci and methodologies emerge within each theme. The evolution of popular keywords in each sub-theme further shows that the field has become more concerned with intricate relationships between Internet use and specific behaviors/attitudes/effects; Internet usage patterns have increasingly attracted research attention; and network perspectives and approaches have become popular. Internet studies in the past decade have been modestly theorized. Established research methods (e.g., survey, experiment, and content analysis) still prevail in the Internet studies reviewed.