Research projects

We are currently engaged in a range of projects on different aspects of communication.

© IfK
  • Third party projects

    H2 Media - Hydrogen in German print media
    (01.04.2024 – 31.10.2025) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    Hydrogen is being discussed in political discourse as one of the key technologies for the energy transition and social transformation. Stakeholders from various industrial sectors also see this as an opportunity to enable the necessary industrial transformation with the aim of achieving climate neutrality. At the same time, politicians and industry believe that hydrogen has the potential to address recurring economic problems in the German economy. But how is hydrogen being discussed in social discourse? What issues are being discussed in connection with hydrogen? What potential and challenges are attributed to hydrogen? Who has a say in this discourse and how do these actors assess hydrogen in terms of sustainability and innovative capacity? How can the development and positioning of the players in hydrogen policy and industry be expected?

    Actor networks in industry, politics and academia in Northern Germany focusing hydrogen
    (01.03.2023 bis 28.02.2026) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    How and why do actors in industry, politics and sciences that focuses on hydrogen network and what role do (online) media play in this networking? This is one of the central research questions in the project. Communication strategies and communication practices of actors in the hydrogen industry, policy and sciences as well as their goals for networking are examined. Online platforms that are used for networking are also analyzed. The relevance of media technologies for socio-ecological transformation and sustainability is an overarching question and is viewed from a critical social science perspective. The project is thus located in the research fields of energy communication and sustainability research as well as qualitative network analysis. As a transformative project, it is designed to support the networking of actors from the hydrogen industry, policy and sciences. The project is part of the collaborative research project "hyBit - hydrogen for Bremen's industrial transformation".

    Governance, Networks and Practices pursuing Sustainability at Universities – A Comparative Analysis
    (01.01.2024 - 31.10.2025) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    The aim of the project is to analyze current governance processes, networks and practices at universities that pursue the goal of sustainability. A qualitative empirical study is conducted on the theoretical basis of sociological practice theory, governance concepts for universities, network theory, sustainability concepts and existing research on sustainability practices at universities. In this study, the research question is posed: Which governance processes, network structures and sustainability practices do actors from different university status groups (Whole Institutional Approach) use to make universities more sustainable and what specific goals are they pursuing? This question is answered through an empirical study that triangulates qualitative interviews, non-participant observations and focus groups. Problems and ambivalences in the practices and goals of the actors are reconstructed. As part of the collaborative research project "Bremen Goes Sustainable. A university region on the way to sustainability", the project focuses the university landscape in Bremen, Germany, as an example, but draws transferable findings from the results for other universities.

    When is a Like a Like? Data-Generating Processes in Online Communication
    (2024-2027) – Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jakob Jünger

    Online communication offers a variety of ways for users to connect with one another. Hyperlinks have been a constituent component of the World Wide Web since its emergence, while on social networking sites, friend or contact lists come into play. In addition, liking, commenting and sharing messages mark relations among actors. These markings are, on one hand, functionally inscribed in online communication platforms. On the other hand, they result from users’ behaviour and subsequently orient other users’ behaviour. This project studies these markings from three perspectives.

    What is important to us: Real-time image analysis for social media content based on human attention mechanisms
    (2024-2025) – Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Grimme (University of Münster), Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt (University of Münster)

    Recent research in the field of online communication has increasingly focused on the negative effects of social media usage in recent years. Particularly, the spread of disinformation during crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict has been of interest, as the risks to liberal democracies have become abundantly clear. A significant challenge for research lies in the analysis of images and videos that are often included in communication data. Current techniques for image analysis require extensive image information and are often unable to process the vast amounts of data in real-time. The presented project pursues an innovative idea to address these challenges. Instead of analyzing the complete image content, image analysis should be optimized using human attention mechanisms. The use of this technique would significantly improve the efficiency of image processing in data streams. The goal of the project is to develop a prototype that can be used in future research projects on disinformation and security research.

    Communication of private universities – analysis of the organisation, goals and visibility
    (01.10.2023 – 30.09.2026) – Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger, Prof. Dr. Julia Metag

    The project examines the communication of private universities. By means of surveys, it will be analysed how the communication departments of private universities are organised and how they are anchored in the organisational structure of the universities. In addition, the focus is on which strategic goals private universities pursue with their communication and which role university communication fulfils for the organisation from the point of view of the university management and communication departments. In a second step, content analysis will be used to examine the extent to which the goals are reflected in university communication and in media coverage of private universities. The results will be discussed with the relevant contact persons in both private and state universities in workshops, networking meetings and at conferences. This will promote the exchange between state and non-state higher education institutions with regard to the orientation of higher education communication and discuss the transferability of the results to state higher education institutions. Overall, the project generates scientifically robust knowledge about the field of action of higher education communication and its underlying logic for private higher education institutions.

    Effect and use of internal communication (15.01.2024 - 31.12.2024) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger, Prof. Dr. Helena Stehle, Prof. Dr. Volker Gehrau

    Internal communication is not only considered to be of great importance for organisations in times of uncertainty, insecurity and crises. It generally contributes to stabilising organisations, providing orientation, strengthening the sense of belonging, enabling informed decision-making processes and reducing fears in uncertain times. The research project focuses on the question of how employees and managers perceive and evaluate formal and informal internal communication in their organisation - and what conclusions can be drawn from this for internal strategic communication.
    Methodologically, an online survey of managers and employees is planned. The survey continues a representative online survey from 2022 and is thus able to describe changes in the perception and evaluation of internal communication in the transformative time after the COVID-19 pandemic. The research project is supported by the Günter Thiele Foundation for Communication and Management <> from Leipzig with almost €10,000 and will run for seven months.

    (01.12.2021 – 31.12.2024) – Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jakob Jünger

     EPIGRAF is a platform for the collection, annotation, networking and publication of communication data. The humanities orientation of the project will be expanded in the coming years to include data science and social science fields of application and, thanks to a universal data model, will then provide possibilities for opening up data collections ranging from letter editions to social media corpora.

    EPIGRAF currently serves primarily to record epigraphic data – inscriptions in connection with the objects on which they are affixed – and to publish them both in printed form and in digital media according to the FAIR principles for the semantic web.

    Energy Projects in the Münsterland – Strategies of Legitimation Communication and their Impact
    (01.05.2023 – 30.09.2024) – Prof. Dr. Helena Stehle

    The production of and access to affordable and clean energy is one of the seventeen goals of the United Nations (2021) for sustainable development worldwide. However, the transition from fossil to renewable energy sources in the form of infrastructure projects is not only accompanied by technical, but equally by socio-political questions and extensive discussions. The topic is also being intensively discussed in Münster and the Münsterland region, e.g. with regard to the use of public land for photovoltaic systems, the route of power lines or with regard to the coupling of renewable electricity and heat.

    Against this background, the research project examines how participating organisations communicate about energy infrastructure projects with the aim of legitimising them, how this communication is perceived and what expectations are placed on the communication. To answer these questions, the project is based on a mixed-method design. Two empirical sub-studies build on each other: A content analysis is used to examine how project and decision makers communicate about energy projects. Subsequently, the Q-method is used to record the perceptions of affected and interested citizens.

    News reporting on digital media use for the self-management of chronic diseases
    (December 2023 – November 2027) – Prof. Julia Metag

    As part of the societal context, the public discourse on digital self-management can influence individuals’ self-management of chronic diseases. Media are one of the most important sources for health-related information. To understand how digital media are used to cope with stressors, it is thus of importance to analyze the public discourse on these issues. A systematic study of the news reporting on digital media use in the context of chronic diseases does not exist. Therefore, this project will analyze the news reporting on digital media use for the self-management of chronic diseases, drawing on the framing approach and news value theory. In addition, it aims to understand what role scientific evidence of the benefits and risks of using digital media for the self-management of chronic diseases plays in the coverage.

    Social Issue Emergence in the Hybrid Media System
    (10/2023–09/2026) – Prof. Thorsten Quandt (University Münster), Prof. Annie Waldherr (University Vienna)

    In the ongoing social debate about social issues, hashtag campaigns such as #metoo or #blacklivesmatter have gained massive importance in recent years. They draw attention to a socially relevant problem (such as sexism or racism) and position it as a social issue. This social issue is shared (using hashtags) on social media and spreads virally. Once the social issue has gone viral, it attracts the attention of traditional media, which make the addressed social problem accessible to a broad public and to the discourse of society. This process is called social issue emergence (SIE) and takes place in the hybrid media system with interaction between analog and digital media logic. But what are the dynamics behind this process? To what extent can actors control and influence the career of a social issue? And what role does the seemingly uncontrolled viral spread of social issues play? The goal of the project is to develop a model based on theoretical and empirical findings that can be used to reconstruct, simulate, understand, and predict the dynamics of social issue emergence.

    Conspiracy Theorists, Esotericists, and Patchwork Religions: An Analysis of New Ideological Movements in Online Environments Using Computational Methods
    (10/2023–09/2026) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    In light of recent crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the investigation of online groups that disseminate conspiracy theories and oppose the social mainstream is of great importance. These movements range from harmless, esoteric groups to overtly anti-democratic movements that exploit social issues and adopt them into a collective ideology, with religion frequently serving as a basis for argumentation. The internet's networking capabilities facilitate these movements' recruitment and mobilization, as well as their interaction with the broader society. Religious elements often play a significant role, with differing and sometimes opposing ideologies being conflated.
    This project aims to examine online networked ideological movements with religious overtones. Initially, a theoretical foundation will be established, and new ideological movements will be mapped empirically in order to explore the content dimensions of conspiracy theories and disinformation disseminated online, as well as associated recruitment and mobilization attempts, and the interconnections at the personal and content levels. The project will also require the methodological further development of established practices of text and network analysis.

    HybriD – Real-time detection and identification of hybrid disinformation campaigns in online media
    (10/2021–09/2024) – Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Grimme (University Münster), Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt (University Münster), Prof. Dr. Christian Stöcker (HAW Hamburg)

    Disinformation has been the focus of research and public debate for some time. Incidents such as the manipulation of journalistic forums during the early days of the Ukraine conflict, the suspected influence of disinformation in the Brexit referendum, or the use of automated communication in the 2016 U.S. election have drawn public and political attention to the issue. This leads to the central question: How do disinformation campaigns behind all these incidents work?
    Since the above-mentioned events, research has increasingly focused on automated communication, fake news and hate speech, and how to detect them. Many citizens face these phenomena on a daily basis. The intensive study of disinformation strategies has revealed that, in addition to automated communication, there are sometimes covert aspects and actors that make a disinformation campaign powerful in the first place. In order to identify, understand, and combat the sometimes concerted disinformation campaigns, it is also necessary to take into account human actors, content, and timing.

    Barrierefreie Onlinebefragungen
    (01/2022–12/2024) – Prof. Dr. Volker Gehrau, Dr. Benjamin Bigl, Ketevan Gognelashvili M.A.

    Die UN-Konvention von 2006 verpflichtet alle öffentlichen Institutionen, die Inklusion aller Be-völkerungsgruppen anzustreben und die EU-Richtlinie zur Web-Accessibility von 2016 schreibt barrierefreie Internetangebote öffentlicher Institutionen vor. Vor allem bei wissenschaftlichen Onlinebefragungen werden oft Item-Batterien und Skalen verwendet, die schon für Personen mit Leseschwierigkeiten nur schwer zu verstehen sind. Menschen mit körperlichen Behinderun-gen können diese Befragungen hingegen oft gar nicht bearbeiten. Dadurch werden oft die spe-ziellen Bedürfnisse von Menschen mit Einschränkungen und Behinderungen nicht in Entschei-dungsprozesse einbezogen, wenn diese auf Umfrageergebnissen basieren. Auf der anderen Seite stehen mittlerweile gerade für Onlineangebote Tools zur Erreichung von Barrierefreiheit zur Verfügung: Vorlesefunktion und Spracherkennung, einfache Sprache, Größeneinstellung und Lupe, Visualisierungen etc. Ziel des beantragten Projektes ist es daher zu untersuchen, ob der Einsatz entsprechender Mittel geeignet ist, Menschen mit Einschränkungen und Behinderungen die Teilnahme an Befragungen zu ermöglichen und Personen ohne Einschränkungen und Behin-derungen die Teilnahme zu erleichtern und darüber deren Teilnahmebereitschaft und Motivati-on zu steigern.

  • Completed third party projects

    Health Communciation with regards to Male Infertility: Pilot study
    (2022 – 2023) – Prof. Dr. Julia Metag, Lena Zils M.A., Meret Laser B.Sc.

    As part of the initiative Reproduction.MS, scientist of the University, the University Medical Centre and the Max Planck Institut of Münster along with the RWTH Aachen University examine male infertility thoroughly from a reproductive medical point of view. Our research team “Forms and Processes of Public Communication” complements the initiative by adding a communication science perspective aiming to analyze the health communication with regards to male infertility in order to improve patient care and the communication process. By carrying out in-depth interviews, tracking the patient’s informational behavior and conducting a content analysis of online sources concerning male infertility, we want to understand how affected couples seek and receive information throughout the internet and what pitfalls they face by doing so. With our pilot study, we want to lay the groundwork for the requested collaborative research centre „Principles of Reproduction — Unravelling the Molecular Mechanisms of Male Infertility”.

    Community Management on Closed-Media Plattforms
    (04/2022–03/2023) – Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger, Lennart Rettler M.A., Johanna Manka B.A.

    Community management has become established in communications practice as a response to the changed conditions created by digital networking. Companies no longer address their messages to the public, but to communities. Many users as well as companies are withdrawing from public platforms and increasingly moving to semi-public or non-public platforms.

    When is a Like a Like? Data-Generating Processes in Online Communication
    (2019–2022) – Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jakob Jünger, Marie-Luise von Berg

    Online communication offers a variety of ways for users to connect with one another. Hyperlinks have been a constituent component of the World Wide Web since its emergence, while on social networking sites, friend or contact lists come into play. In addition, liking, commenting and sharing messages mark relations among actors. These markings are, on one hand, functionally inscribed in online communication platforms. On the other hand, they result from users’ behaviour and subsequently orient other users’ behaviour. This project studies these markings from two perspectives.

    Working Group "Computational Social Science: Theories, Methodology & Research Ethics"
    (04/2018 – 10/2018) - Jun.-Prof Dr. Annie Waldherr / PD Dr. habil. Stephanie Geise

    With the increasing digitalization of our contemporary societies, «Computational Social Science» (CSS) has become an established field of research over the last couple of years. As a subarea of social science, CSS focuses on computational methods – such as network analysis, text and data mining as well as computer simulation – to examine social phenomena and processes. Due to technological change, these methods have become more and more relevant as they enable to systematically analyze massive digital datasets.

    External Interfaces of Communication Management. Cooperation with Communication Agencies and other Service Providers
    (10/2017 – 09/2020) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger / Dr. Christian Wiencierz

    External service providers and partners such as consultants and communication agencies play an important role in the organization and success of organizations’ strategic communication. So far, the cooperation between organizations’ communication departments and external service providers was investigated only by an economic point of view. The result is a lack of theoretical and empirical approaches in the field communication science.
    The new research project, led by Prof. Röttger and Dr. Wiencierz, investigates the question, how current and future collaborations between communication departments and external service providers are shaped. Particularly important is the question, how organizations’ changing internal structures for coordinating and cooperating are effecting the structures and processes of cooperation with external providers (cue: agile management).

    Still images - Moving people? How visual images trigger the willingness to participate in political protest
    (10/2017 – 03/2019) - PD Dr. Stephanie Geise

    Schon seit geraumer Zeit sensibilisieren die empirischen Sozialwissenschaften für die sprichwörtliche „Macht der Bilder“; und nie zuvor waren die Verfügbarkeit und Präsenz von Bildern so ausgeprägt wie im Zeitalter der neuen Medien und sozialen Netzwerke. Gleichzeitig beobachten wir enorme soziale Verwerfungen innerhalb der Gesellschaften, die sich in eine zunehmende Protestbereitschaft von BürgerInnen übertragen und in Form sozialer Bewegungen (PEGIDA etc.) und der Gründung neuer Parteien (AfD etc.) verfestigen. Vor dem Hintergrund der Theorien der kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Framing- sowie der politikwissenschaftlichen Partizipationsforschung untersuchen wir im Projekt «Still Images – Moving People» den Zusammenhang zwischen der Rezeption, Einordnung und Verarbeitung von positiv und negativ gerahmten Medienbildern ausgewählter Protestbewegungen und ihrer Protest-Issues auf die politische Partizipationsbereitschaft der BürgerInnen.

    Translocal Networks: Public Sphere in the Social Web
    (01/2018 – 12/2021) - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Annie Waldherr (WWU) / Prof. Dr. Barbara Pfetsch (Freie Universität Berlin)

    The research project is part of the Collaborative Research Center 1265 “Re-Figuration of Spaces” (Coordinating university: TU Berlin). The center investigates changes in experience and constitution of space in light of processes of globalization and digitalization. In this framework, our project examines the spatiality of the “Twitterspheres” in the cities of Berlin and Jerusalem. Asking how virtual urban spaces are constituted through networked communication, we investigate communicative relations among Twitter users, their spatial locations, and the topics they talk about. The study also examines how individual users synthesize global and local, virtual and real, public and private references, and explores the subjective experiences of space involved.

    Democratic resilience in times of online-propaganda, fake news, fear- and hate speech (DemoRESILdigital) - Junior research group 
    (01/2018 – 12/2022) - Dr. Lena Frischlich

    The digital society offers new possibilities for democratic participation as well as for disseminating manipulative content. Strategic agents are abusing the easy access to digitally generated publics to spread online propaganda, fake news, fear and hate speech. Such manipulative online content has been assumed to play a crucial role in radicalizing individuals, fostering social polarization, and weakening democracy per se.

    Interfaces and Collaboration in Municipal Communication
    (12/2017 – 9/2018) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Municipal communication is facing great challenges due to extensive changes in the media and the public: For example, the number of media channels to maintain is increasing and the target audience is becoming more diverse. Therefore, municipal administrations have to handle a tremendous increase and differentiation of communication activities. So, the coordination of the communication of departments and interfaces is becoming an important challenge of the present and future.

    Media biographies of the Chancellors of the German Federal Republic
    (11/2017 – 10/2019) - Dr. Thomas Birkner (WWU) und Dr. Benjamin Krämer (LMU)

    The project aims to analyze the role of the media in the life of the chancellors, i.e., to reconstruct their media biographies. A comprehensive understanding of media biographies includes life and professional experience before and during office as well as the interplay with media actors during the career.In addition to their high formal and informal power in the chancellor democracy, the persons under investigation particularly symbolize politics and the social and cultural change of their time and in their generation. They were required to develop strategies to present their decisions in public and represent them with their acquired personal style. Furthermore, experiences related to the media also played a constitutive role in the biographies of some of the chancellors and possibly also for their later relationship with the media as they were actively involved in journalism.Certainly, biographical accounts on the persons we are interested in exist, but they only mention the media among many other topics, if at all. There are also a number of studies specifically related to the media, but the state of research is rather sketchy. We have largely reviewed the existing literature and we would now like to pass from these secondary sources to an analysis of primary evidence. In addition, we can draw on our own preliminary theoretical works.

    Medialisierung von Organisationen: Ein Vergleich der Intensität und Qualität von Anpassungen an die Logik öffentlicher Aufmerksamkeitsgenerierung.
    (10/2016 – 09/2019) - Dr. Andreas M. Scheu

    The project compares the mediatization of organizations from the social fields health, politics, law and science. Mediatization is an active process that - from the perspective of actors - serves to preserve or enhance their performance. The concept of mediatization describes adaptations to (perceived) media logic, that ensure access to services of mass media, particularly the service of providing public visibility and attention for issues, events and organizations. Dependent on the role of public attention for the performance of organizations from different social fields, the need for mediatization of these organizations should differ, too. For example, political parties have a strong need for public attention in order to ensure their performance (e.g. elections). The performance of hospitals on the other hand is relatively independent from media coverage. The study asks, if and how such differences influence the mediatization of actors and their relation to mass media.

    Konsumentenvertrauen in einer Sharing Economy. Kommunikations- und Vertrauensprozesse in einer digitalen Welt des Tauschens und Teilens.
    (01/2016 - 10/2016) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    The responsibility of corporation in the public discourse. Differences and co-orientation between responsibility assessments made by corporations, media and citizens
    (08/2015 - 07/2018) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    The responsibility of corporations is discussed vividly in the public. Moreover, when it comes to issues such as energy revolution, financial crises or low wages, sceptical attitudes towards businesses become apparent. These doubts about the credibility of corporations and the diverging expectations may indicate an inconsistent understanding of the responsibility of corporations. While common research about corporate social responsibility (CSR) discusses mostly ideal conceptions, one important question remains: How are judgments on responsibility actually constructed in the public discourse? By comparing the perspectives of media, citizens and corporations, the research project aims at investigating factors influencing the attribution and evaluation of the responsibility of corporations as well as at detecting differences and co-orientation between corporations, media and citizens.

    Megatrends and Changing Conditions as Challenges for Coporate Communications
    (04/2015 - 03/2018) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    What effect will digitalization and big data have on corporate communications? Increasing digital networking has emerged as the most important megatrend. However, individualization and globalization have also had a significant impact on corporate communications. This research project therefore focuses on the potential of big (social) data for corporate communications - but always within the broader context of an increasingly globalized and individualized communication. This project is part of the research program "Value Creating Communication". Researchers from universities in Leipzig, Münster, Wien, Hohenheim-Stuttgart and Berlin are set to collaborate with international researchers and corporate communications executives.

    The mediatized home (III): Contrasting household studies on drivers of dynamic mediatization
    (11/2014 - 07/2017) - Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser / Dr. Kathrin F. Müller

    The project focuses on a question which could not be answered during the Priority Program „Mediatized Worlds“ so far: It aims at analyzing how dynamic processes of digital mediatization are initiated particularly within the home. For this purpose, the media use will be traced within households where mainly digital media are used and where classical media only have minor relevance. This research interest builds upon insights from the previous projects which were part of the Priority Program. A qualitative panel study with three examination periods (2008, 2011 and 2013) based on a sample of 25 couple households, systematically allocated by quota according to socio-demographic criteria, has already been conducted in order to grasp the changes of the mediatized home in a longitudinal analyzis over six years. Household studies in the form of qualitative, ethnographically oriented interviews were at the core of each examination phase.

    Research Training Group 1712/2 “Trust and Communication in a Digitized World”
    (04/2012 - 03/2021)

    The research training group examines how trust can be developed and maintained under the conditions of new forms of communication. Digitized means of communication change the structure and sustainability of trust because firstly, familiar face-to-face communication is replaced by digitized interactions, secondly, virtual social and office networks emerge and finally, because new forms of relationships between the public, organisations and individuals develop. The postgraduate programme analyses the consequences of these processes for the establishment of trust relationships by the example of four prototypical areas: media, economy, science and sports.

    The readers of the tageszeitung (taz)
    (seit 1992) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Since 1993, taz readers are regularly questioned about their use and evaluation of the newspaper. Analyses from 1993, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2010 offer insights into the readers' profiles and their relationship to the project "tageszeitung". In 2010, an explorative survey among kiosk buyers was conducted as well as a survey among users of, the newspaper's online portal. Also, a survey among the users of zeo² und members of the taz association was conducted in 2014. The studies are commissioned by the taz.

    Internet and mental health
    (05/2016 - 04/2018) - Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt, et al.

    Groundbreaking technologies change not only our daily lives and habits but also affect our perceptions, feelings, communication structures, and self image. Never before, however, has the discussion of the impact of a technological development on mental health been as intense as it has been since the introduction of the internet. One would expect psychiatric experts to take the lead in this discussion. At present, most of the commentary by psychiatrists and psychologists seems to be as influenced by their own attitudes towards modern technology as it is by empirical data and scientific insight. There are reasons for this. While one need not look far for inflammatory discussions of „internet addiction,“ a scientific debate amongst psychiatric professionals on this topic is seldom to be found. Despite the fact that many of the accusations found in the media about internet use can be disproven, they continue to enjoy great popularity.

    Identification, detection, and mitigation of covert propaganda attacks via online media/PropStop
    (05/2016 – 04/2019) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt et al.

    Social and political developments are discussed and commented on worldwide on social media. In addition to the desired public, anonymous and free expression of opinion, however, these services also offer scope for controlled manipulation. Semi-automated to fully automated systems known as propaganda bots or social bots use the easy access to the technical infrastructure of social media to covertly disseminate certain opinions and boost public perception in a one-sided manner. To this end, sophisticated artificial profiles are created, fake discussions are generated between users, real opinions are undermined, and unwanted criticism is suppressed. The distorted image of the online public in turn influences social debates and can also influence media coverage, resulting in significant social damage.

     Cyber bullying at schools: A longitudinal multi-level analysis of individual, structural and systemic factors
    (10/2012 – 09/2015) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    The aim of the project is to comprehensively research the phenomenon of cyberbullying, its influencing factors, specific patterns and effects, especially in the particularly relevant youth sector. In addition to the individual level, a multi-level analysis takes into account structural and systematic factors. Furthermore, the dynamics of the cyberbullying process will be the subject of a longitudinal analysis. To achieve these goals, a 3-wave panel survey will be conducted among students and teachers at different schools. In addition to personal variables, this survey includes the reconstruction of social structures at the schools with the help of social network analyses.

    Öffentlichkeit und Hochschulperformanz
    (08/2012 - 07/2015) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Analysis of discourses in social media
    (05/2012 – 04/2015) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    Manual and automated methods for analyzing social networks on the Internet are the focus of the project "Discourse Analysis in Social Media". The goal is not only a thematic examination of the content, but also the development of new methods of analysis. This is a collaborative project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with the computer linguist Professor Manfred Dtehle (Potsdam), the business information scientist Professor Stefan Stieglitz (Münster) and the communication scientist Professor christoph Neuberger (Munich).

    The mediatized home II: A qualitative panel study about the change of domestic communication cultures
    (11/2012 - 10/2014) - Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser

    The project aims at looking at the change of domestic communication cultures in a process-oriented manner. It is based on the understanding that the digital mediatization of the home is becoming more and more dynamic because of the internet and other media.

    Erfolgsfaktoren der Corporate Social Responsibility-Kommunikation
    (07/2013 - 12/2013) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Von der Beobachtung zur Beeinflussung. Medialisierte Konstellationen von Wissenschaft, Medien und Politik in Bezug auf wissenschaftliche Fachkulturen 
    (08/2010 - 12/2013) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    The study analyses the relations between media, sciences and politics in order to examine the following research questions: How do science and politics observe each other via mass media communication? Which impact has this reciprocal observation on decisions with science and politics? These questions are examined with focus on selected scientific cultures by analyzing the coverage on research funding and research politics of selected media as well as by interviewing political, scientific and media actors.

    Cross-Cultural Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management 
    (10/2011 - 10/2012) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger / Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß

    Issues of the Millenium 
    (07/2011 - 06/2013) - Prof. Dr. Volker Gehrau

    smartNETWORK international
    (04/2011 – 12/2013) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    International conference "The social aspect of digital gaming"
    (2011) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    Organization of a conference on the above-mentioned topic, supported by the funding program "International Scientific Events" of the German Research Foundation.

    The mediatized home (I): Changes of domestic communication cultures
    (11/2010 – 06/2013) – Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser

    The aim of the project is to analyze the changes of domestic communication cultures that can be linked to the mediatization of the home, and to grasp these changes as a process. The basic presumption is that the Internet and other domestic media technologies have contributed to a lively dynamic of the digital mediatization of the home. This in turn leads to changes within the communication between household members, alters the meanings of the 'old' media, and intensifies the mediatized connections of these households with extern spheres.

    The social fabric of virtual life: A longitudinal multi-meethod study on the social foundations of online gaming (SOFOGA)
    (01/2010 – 12/2014) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    Since January 2010, this major EU-funded project has been conducting extensive research into the real-world and game-world experiences of online gamers. Project components include representative panel surveys over a total of three survey waves, social network analysis, in-game-observations, guided interviews, and focus groups. As part of the five-year project, a dedicated working group and observation lab (GameLab) were established. The EU 's European Research Council supports high-risk, cutting-edge research by young scientists with its "Starting Grants" program. In contrast to other EU programs, the ERC funds individual proposals submitted by a single Principal Investigator (PI). In this way, the funding remains solely with the PI and his or her home insitution.

    Cleavages, governance and the media in European metropolitan areas
    (10/2009 - 11/2013) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    The emergence of metropolitan areas and issues of governance therein are widely researched topics. This project innovates in that it investigates the link between governance and the media in the emergence of metropolitan areas as spaces of democratic politics.

    Organisation und Öffentlichkeit von Hochschulen: Ausmaß und Folgen der Öffentlichkeits- und Medienorientierung
    (06/2009 - 07/2012) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Change in Journalistic Mass Media. Journalism in Changing Media Contexts
    (07/2009 - 07/2011) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    The project analyzes the role of mass media and journalists in the emergence of public for scientific topics. The project focuses on topics and protagonists of journalistic communication about science - particularly with regard to its handling of scientific uncertainty. Thus, object of investigation is on the one hand the science reporting of 17 high-coverage media products through all kind of media. It will be investigated, how fragile and conflicting scientific evidences are presented in mass media coverage. On the other hand science journalists working for the chosen media products will be questioned about their handling of fragile knowledge.

    Foreign news on televesion
    (2009 – 2011) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    The two-year project, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), examined the production, content and reception of foreign news on television. It was part of a large international project conducted simultaneously in about 20 countries. The project was coordinated by Akiba Cohen (U Tel Aviv), the German project partner was Jürgen Wilke (Mainz). Other distinguished colleagues were also involved in the global project, including David Weaver (U of Bloomington), Paolo Mancini (U of Perugia), and Von hwei-Lo.

    Die rechtsextreme Symbolik der NPD in der politischen Fernsehberichterstattung
    (01/2009 - 06/2011) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    The Role of the Media in the Politics of Nanotechnology
    (06/2010 - 12/2010) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    The project analyses the media coverage of nanotechnology of the German, Swiss and Austrian media. Nanotechnology cannot be directly experienced and observed – all that people know about it and their interpretations and opinions are mainly based on information from the mass media. Therefore, this first systematic study of the German, Swiss and Austrian media coverage about nanotechnology aims to analyse the media frames of this emerging technology.

    Powerful women in the media’s focus. The representation of female and male leaders in politics, economy and academia.
    (04/2008 - 12/2010) - Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser

    The aim of the project was to analyze the mediated representation of powerful men and women in politics, economy and science and young adults’ adoption of such representations.

    The Media for Democracy Monitor 2010
    (05/2010 - 11/2010) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    The project is part of an international media monitoring of the democratic quality of national media systems. The “Media for Democracy Monitor”  is based on a model of democracy asks for basic principles of freedom, equality and control regarding the media and then measures the media’s performance with  a set of performance indicators.  The German study gathers and analyses secondary data about key parameters of the media system and conducts interviews with journalists of leading German media outlets (Print, Radio, Television, Internet) and with delegates of media trade unions and journalistic associations.

    The domestication of the internet. Reconstructing the processes of adopting new media at home from 1997-2007.
    (03/2008 - 10/2010) - Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser

    The project focuses on reconstructing how the internet entered the domestic sphere as a new medium and how it was integrated into German households.

    Journalism and Twitter 
    (03/2010 - 07/2010) - Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger

    In the expertise for the „Landesanstalt für Medien Nordrhein-Westfalen (LfM)" (Media Broadcasting Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia) the relevance of the social network "Twitter" for the public and its relationship to professional journalism is investigated. The relationship is explored from three different perspectives: First, it is analysed empirically with regard to the news value which events have an outstanding relevance on Twitter and how this differs from traditional journalism. Second, the production of news is examined: Which impact do Twitter and other user generated news have on the production of professional news? How widespread is the journalistic enquiry using Twitter? Third, it is asked in a secondary analysis what impact Twitter and user generated news have on the news reception. An survey amongst internet editorial offices, that follows up on the DFG-Project "Journalismus im Internet" (Journalism in the Internet) (2006-2008), marks the empirical core item of the project. In the survey, the impact and use of Twitter and other social media formats is analysed.

    "Definition und Messung der publizistischen Qualität und des publizistischen Wettbewerbs im Rahmen des Drei-Stufen-Test
    (12/2009 - 07/2010) - Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger

    Die Bedeutung des Internets im Rahmen der Vielfaltssicherung
    (10/2009 - 03/2010) - Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger

    The project analyzes three dimensions of general public in the internet: the diversity of structural and publicistic style, the relevance of opinion formation of the internet as well as the integration of media companies and the internet across all types of media. On the one hand findings of communication science were evaluated in the project, on the other hand new empirical data regarding media economics were gathered and investigated.

    Participatory journalism in online news
    (2007 – 2009) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    The perception and embedding of user-generated content in mainstream online journalism was analyzed in this international comparative project. For this purpose, content/structure analyses were conducted with the editors-in-chief, online editors and community managers of the respective market leaders in ten countries. The online offshoots of Le Monde, The Times, New York Times, El Pais and Der Spiegel, for example, took part. Project partners included Jane Singer (U Central Lancashire), Ari Heinonen (U Tampere), David Domingo (U Tarragona), and Zvi Reich (Ben Gurion U). Parts of the study were supported by the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

    Wandel bei aktuellen Massenmedien: Journalismus in veränderten Medienkontexten
    (02/2006 - 02/2010) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    The project analyzes the various changes of journalism within its societal context and reviews journalistic structures as they are today. Basing on a multilayered concept of journalism journalistic changes is conceptualized as the observable change of its structural elements, which are the evolution of organizations (newsrooms), programs (working routines, formats) and roles (actors, communicators). The change of journalism is analyzed using the example of 15 selected media organization and applying a complex combination of methods. A content analysis examines journalistic coverage between 1990 and 2006; interviews with longtime editors and leading editors provide information about changes of persons, structures and working routines within the newsrooms; observations in the newsrooms show modes of operation and coordination; a standardized survey of the editors in the selected newsrooms examine their characteristics and attitudes.

    The Dynamics of Political Institutions in Mediated Democracies
    (10/2005 - 09/2009) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    PR-Beratung in der politischen Kommunikation
    (02/2008 - 07/2009) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Starting point for this research project in communication science is the theoretical assumption that political actors in the media society need an increasing amount of consulting in order to cope with increasing external complexity in general and especially observation of themselves by the general public. External PR service providers as communication experts and 2nd order observers seem to be very adequate: because of their external viewpoint and their expertise, consultants are able to provide major help for their clients to increase reflexivity with respect to self-description and description by others. Goal of the empirical analysis (30 structured interviews with PR consultants, ministry employees and members of all large German political parties) therefore was the identification of role interpretations, objectives, values and norms in the interaction of political actors and consultants. They determine the way how consulting influences the political communication.

    e-learning Kommunikationswissenschaft
    (11/2005 - 05/2009) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Integrative theoretical concepts in communication science
    (2005 – 2010) – Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt

    The DFG-funded network "Integrative theoretical concepts in communication science" aimed to find solutions for the integration of previously separate theoretical strands and perspectives in communication studies. Fifteen German communication scientists took part in the network, discussing and advancing proposals in regular workshops. A classic example of the aforementioned integration efforts were the so-called 'micro-(meso-)macro-links' between theories at different levels of observation and extension. The network paid particular attention to these.

    Die Informationsleistung der Schweizer Massenmedien im eidgenössischen Abstimmungsprozess: eine Längsschnittanalyse
    (05/2006 - 05/2008) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    National Research Correspondent für Deutschland in dem international vergleichenden Forschungsprojekt: Media performance for democracy
    (03/2007 - 08/2008) - Dr. Josef Trappel

    Vermittlungsakteure, -strukturen und -leistungen der aktuellen Internetöffentlichkeit
    (02/2006 - 08/2008) - Prof. Dr. Christoph Neuberger

    The project investigated how journalistic services are generated for the contemporary internet public and which structures are hereby emerging. The term "intermediation service" denotes in this context specific services that are, in the traditional mass media, produced by professional editors in editorial offices and that are directed towards a dispersed mass audience. Irrespective of the potentially simplified access to the public, the intermediating instances between communicator and recipient remain necessary also in the internet to conduct tasks of selection and inspection. Besides professional journalistic offerings functional equivalents, namely participative and technical offerings, are present in the network public. However, the findings show that the new types of offerings are more of a complementary nature and therefore pose no real challenge on the traditional journalism in the internet. These offerings were examined regarding their contribution to the creation of contemporary publicity. Another focal point was the question how traditional mass media expand their activities in the internet and which cross-media strategies were pursued.

    Risikowahrnehmung beim Thema Nanotechnologie 
    (06/2007 - 06/2008) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    This content analysis examines German media coverage of nanotechnology between January2000 and December 2007 in a total of 1,696 articles published in the national qualitynewspapers Financial Times Deutschland, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, FrankfurterRundschau, Süddeutsche Zeitung, taz, Die Welt, the news magazines Focus and DerSpiegel, and the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. The results show that on average 212 articleswere published every year. After the peak of 248 articles in 2004, there was a decline in coverageto 170 articles in 2007. The main topics covered are "fundamental research" and the"application information and communication technologies". The central actors are "persons/institutions in the field of science" and "economic actors". Overall, the media coverageof nanotechnology very much focussed on the potential benefits of the technology. Risks areonly discussed to a minor degree. In a framing analysis five issue-specific frames were identified:"Research and Development", "Progress in information and communication technologies","Economic use", "Medical benefit" and the "Risk-opportunity debate".

    Medienkonzept für die Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen
    (02/2007 - 08/2007) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Medien NRW
    (05/2006 - 12/2006) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Die Genossen der Tageszeitung
    (09/2005 - 09/2006) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Nutzung und Bewertung von epd medien
    (10/2005 - 04/2006) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Vertrauen in Medien
    (01/2002 - 07/2004) - Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Das Vertrauen der Leser in die Ostthüringer Zeitung
    (12/2003 - 03/2004) - Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Quellen der Wissenschaftsberichterstattung
    (07/2003 - 01/2004) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    Wissenschaftsjournalisten bei Regional- und Boulevardzeitungen
    (11/2002 - 02/2003) - Prof. Dr. Bernd Blöbaum

    (10/1999 - 12/2001) - Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring


  • Recend projects

    Help and knowledge exchange between family generations in the appropriation of digital media (technologies)
    (Since 2023) – Prof. Dr. Jutta Röser, Jacqueline Reimer M.A.

    On the basis of qualitative interviews with grandparents and grandchildren, support systems practiced between the generations in the appropriation of digital media technologies are being researched. Migrant and non-migrant families are being included.

    Global Warming’s Five Germanys
    (Seit Januar 2021) – Prof. Dr. Julia Metag (WWU), Kira Klinger (WWU), Mike Schäfer (Universität Zürich)

    Der Klimawandel ist eine der größten Herausforderungen für die Menschheit und ein Thema kontroverser öffentlicher Debatten – was die Erforschung von Einstellungen gegenüber des Klimawandels innerhalb spezifischer Bevölkerungssegmente umso zentraler macht. Ziel des Forschungsprojektes ist, die deutsche Bevölkerung anhand ihrer Einstellung zum Klimawandel zu segmentieren, segmentspezifische Muster der Medien- und Informationsnutzung herauszuarbeiten und Erkenntnisse im internationalen Kontext zu diskutieren.

  • Completed projects

    Fora Bolsonaro – Campaigning for democracy on Twitter
    (01.10.2022 - 30.09.2023) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    The recent rise of extreme right-wing ideologies has become a threat to democracy. In Brazil's brief democratic history, citizens have traditionally organized 'Fora' (‘Out’) protests to voice disapproval of governments and politicians. Seeking to investigate how progressive initiatives used the slogan 'Fora' to mobilize against Bolsonarism in Brazil, this article presents the results of a qualitative study of the Fora Bolsonaro campaign on Twitter. Founded by left-wing political parties, unions, popular movements, and civil society organizations, the campaign responded to Jair Bolsonaro's far-right policies and rhetoric. It aimed at removing the president from office and promoting a more inclusive political system. This study is an analysis of the campaign’s Twitter account — @forabolsonarona — as an example of a media activist tool to contest, expose and call for the president's removal. Through an examination of the campaign's goals and criticisms, the study offers insights into how the ‘Fora’ tradition is manifested in the age of skillful use of social media and mobile applications by political parties, politicians, and activists. Through a grounded-theoretical, qualitative analysis of Twitter posts from the Fora Bolsonaro Twitter account, the findings reveal how the campaign centered on safeguarding democracy and combating authoritarianism by focusing on four key themes: militarization, attacks on the electoral system, fake news, and erosion of social rights.

    Sustainability and Women’s Magazines in Germany – “BRIGITTE BE GREEN” as an example
    (01.10.2022 - 30.09.2023) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    Sustainability is a relevant topic for gender studies in communication and media studies, not only because sustainability topics in communication and media studies can and should be analyzed from a gender perspective, but also because gender-related media outlets take up the topic of sustainability: for example, women's magazines, which are traditionally the subject of gender studies in communication and media studies and which now also deal with sustainability as a topic. Of particular interest at the connection between sustainability and women's magazines in Germany is the magazine Brigitte BE GREEN, which, as a "line extension" of the women's magazine Brigitte, explicitly focuses on sustainability as a topic in its issues. Brigitte BE GREEN was published twice a year from 2019 to 2023.

    Community management on closed media platforms (04/2022–03/2023) – Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger, Lennart Rettler M.A., *Johanna Manka B.A.

    Community management has become established in communications practice as a response to the changed conditions created by digital networking. Companies no longer address their messages to the public, but to communities. Many users as well as companies are withdrawing from public platforms and increasingly moving to semi-public or non-public platforms.

    “Querdenken-Movement” in Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic
    (01.01.2022 – 31.12.2022) – Prof. Dr. Sigrid Kannengießer

    The safety measures and restrictions imposed by the German federal government to protect people during the Covid 19 pandemic led to the formation of a protest movement, the “Querdenken”-movement, which criticized, among other things, the restrictions on freedom of assembly. In their criticism, the "Querdenkenden" referred to the norms of democracy and freedom, which they saw endangered by the restrictions. In order to retrospectively understand the argumentation of the “Querdenken”-movement, an analysis of selected Twitter profiles of the movement was conducted and central themes as well as strands of argumentation were examined. In the process, fractures and ambivalences in the narratives around democracy and freedom became apparent.

    External interfaces of communication management. Collaboration with communications agencies and other service providers (10/2017 – 09/2020) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger/Dr. Christian Wiencierz

    External service providers, such as consultants and communication agencies, play a key role in the design and success of organisations' strategic communication. However, cooperation with service providers has so far mostly only been researched from a business perspective. Therefore, there is a lack of theoretical as well as empirical communication science approaches to analyse these cooperations. In order to open up this field of research, the research project examines the question of how cooperation between communication departments and various external service providers in the field of strategic communication is organised today and in the future. Of particular importance is the question of what consequences changed internal organisational structures of coordination and cooperation (keyword: agility) have for the structures and processes of cooperation with external service providers.

    Interfaces and cooperation in municipal communication (12/2017 – 9/2018) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Municipal communication is currently facing major challenges in the face of a comprehensive change in the media and public sphere: For example, the number of media channels to be managed has increased and the target groups to be reached have become more diverse. Municipal administrations are therefore seeing an enormous rise and increasing differentiation of communication activities, making the coordination of communication between specialised departments and interfaces an important challenge of the present and future.

    Zwischen Notwehr und Manipulation. Eine Analyse der Akzeptanz von Täuschungen in der strategischen Kommunikation.
    (08/2015 – 07/2016) - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kerstin Thummes

    Dialogische PR in sozialen Netzwerken
    (02/2014 – 01/2016) - Jun.-Prof. Dr. Kerstin Thummes / Dr. Maja Malik

    CCCC - Comparing Corporate Communication Cultures
    (seit 10/2012) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Risikowahrnehmung der Nanotechnologie. Analyse der Berichterstattung
    (seit 04/2012) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Medien und politisches Vertrauen
    (seit 04/2012) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski / Prof. Dr. Matthias Kohring

    Online-Campaigning. Die Rolle neuer Medien in der Wahlkampfkommunikation
    (seit 04/2012) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    Medienkongruenz und demokratische Performanz
    (seit 10/2011) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    Politische Kommunikation und Direkte Demokratie. Die Rolle von Medien und Kommunikation bei Volksentscheiden
    (seit 04/2011) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

     Mediennutzung und Medienbewertung durch Kandidaten der Landtagswahl in Nordrhein-Westfalen 2010
    (03/2010 - 05/2010) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

    Inszenierung von unternehmerischen Sozialinteressen
    (01/2008 - 01/2008) - Prof. Dr. Ulrike Röttger

    Publizistischer Wettbewerb und Qualität der Berichterstattung. Inspektionen eines Widerspruchs
    (04/2008 - 02/2009) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski

     Das „versehentliche“ Publikum. Effekte zufällig genutzter Informationssendungen auf politisches Wissen
    (04/2008 - 02/2009) - Prof. Dr. Frank Marcinkowski