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Social Media: Major Topics in Dissertation Research

Education Volume 135, Number 3, ISSN 0013-1172


Although social media (SM) is a ubiquitous feature of modern discourse, few studies have addressed the research domain regarding scope of SM in the scholarly literature. Moreover, the adaptation of SM technology for formal educational purposes has not been without controversy (Bennett et al., 2012). The current study attempts to obtain a typological perspective on the most emphasized research areas on the topic of social media by conducting a content analysis of dissertation research. To that end, a keyword search of the term ("Social Media") yielded 662 studies from ProQuest's "Dissertations & Theses" database. Based on the abstract of each study, the author tagged the reference with a descriptor that best represented the main topical focus of each dissertation. The topics that garnered the most research attention, within the domain of SM, were (in rank order): Political issues/Social movements, Marketing/Advertising, College-level educational issues, Organizational-business performance, Crisis-disaster management, Health management, Corporate brand management, Consumer behavior, and K-12 educational applications. Despite pronouncements from the U.S. Department of Education and academic scholars that the formal educational system needs to leverage modern technology in order to enhance student and collaborative learning experiences, scholarly research on the social media-education nexus is in a nascent stage. The current findings provide: a) an exploratory "snap-shot" on the scope of the investigatory domain of SM research, and b) an impetus for further bibliometric study on the extant SM literature appearing in academic journals.


Piotrowski, C. (2015). Social Media: Major Topics in Dissertation Research. Education, 135(3), 299-302. Retrieved July 17, 2019 from .

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