Methodological challenges in the transition towards online audience research

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review


  • David Mathieu
  • Miguel Vicente-Mariño
  • Maria José Brites
  • Inês Amaral
  • Niklas A. Chimirri
  • Juliane Finger
  • Bojana Romic
  • Minna Saariketo
  • Riitta Tammi
  • Marisa Torres da Silva
  • Liliana Pacheco

Research units

  • Roskilde University
  • University of Valladolid
  • Lusophone University of Porto
  • Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
  • University of Hamburg
  • New University of Lisbon
  • Lisbon University Institute
  • Communication and Society Research Centre
  • Tampere University


This review of the literature published between 2005 and 2014 presents an overview of the methodological environment in which audience research is transiting towards the study of online audiences. Online audience research is a mix of long-established research rationales, methodical adaptations, new venues and convergent thinking. We discuss four interconnected, and sometimes contradictory, methodological trends that characterize this current environment: 1) the expansion of online ethnography and the continued importance of contextualization, 2) the influence of big data and an emphasis on uses, 3) the reliance on mixed methods and the convergence of different rationales of research, and 4) the ambiguous nature of online data and the ethical considerations for the conduct of research. In spite of a massive research activity, there remain gaps and underprivileged areas that call for a re-prioritization of research. In the conclusion of this paper, we offer recommendations to orient future research.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-320
Number of pages32
JournalParticipations: journal of audience and reception studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

    Research areas

  • Big Data, convergence, Mixed Method, New Media, Online Audience, Methodology, Literature Review, Research Method, Ethnography, Contextualization, Ethics

ID: 10401244