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ComAbstracts Visual Communication Concept Explorer Table of Contents Electronic Journal of Communication

User's Guide to the VCCE - Section 5: Examples

User's Guide to the Visual Communication Concept Explorer (VCCE)

5. Examples of some goals you can accomplish with the VCCE

The VCCE basically does two things: create maps of concepts or authors, and then allows you to search for articles, webpages etc. that include those concepts and/or were written by those authors. Below are examples of the some of the basic ways you can go about mapping information and getting from general to specific information in the VCCE. As we said in the introduction, this is a section of the user guide that we would particularly like people to comment on and send in examples of real-life research problems that were solved using the VCCE. In the meantime, this section of the guide is probably the most likely to undergo revisions as we try to outline all the things that the VCCE can do.

5.1 Exploring co-occuring concepts and finding research about them

The VCCE's primary use is exploring the nature of co-occuring concepts in communication research.

5.1.1 The concept map

Usually you will start with at least one concept that you are interested in, such as "emotion," and will type that into the text entry window. This brings up a basic concept analysis window.

Once you have your initial concept you will probably be interested in the links between it and other concepts. The easiest way to start exploring those links is to double-click on one of the concepts clustered around your initial central concep. In this example, "cognition" has been selected, bringing up the concept cluster that surrounds it.

You can have up to three concept clusters displayed at once. In this example, "emotion," "cognition," and "process" are all displayed. You can see that when you are working with that many clusters, it is a good idea to reduce the number of concepts displayed in each cluster.

At this point you have a map of the way that concepts have co-occured in the literature. You can explore this map by continually clicking on words, and moving back and forth between clusters, dragging concepts around, and changing the history and frequency choices. In this way you'll get a good idea of how often concepts have been used, when they appeared, when co-occurences first appeared etc. What you make of this map is up to you, although its clearest application is an aid to the basic work of a literature review. In general, once you've found some interesting co-occuring terms, you'll probably be wanting to see more than a map of the clusters, and want to get to the actual literature. This is where the VCCE comes into its own, as the map you have just made links into several different kinds of searches.

5.1.2 Concept searches

When you have found a set of concepts that you are interested in, right click on the last concept to bring up a context menu and choose Search for items in the databases that contain those three concepts.

Choosing Search will bring up a detailed search menu. There are four steps to performing a search.


1) Choose search terms: The first set of items--Search for--allows you to manipulate the choice of terms, which will be the concepts you have just been looking at. You can choose to search for all three concepts at once, or, by unchecking the boxes to the right of each concept, search for just one or two of the concepts. Multiple terms are searched for using the Boolen AND.

2) Choose extra search terms: The second item is the option to input new words, which means "add terms to your search." Any selected term will be included in your search using the Boolean AND.

3) Set search options: Once you have chosen your search terms, the third set of items--Search options--alters the terms searched for. Using none performs a regular search using the terms as specified in the . Use conflation means "make the search find alternative grammatical forms of the term." For example, using conflation with the term "post" matches "post", "posted", "posting", but not "postulate." Use wildcards means "match anything that contains the portion of the term prior to the wilcard." For example, adding the wildcard option to "rhet" matches "rhetorical", "rhetorically", "rhetorician", etc.

4) Choose search database

Finally, you can choose in which database to search for the items. The first two options perform the same search of the CIOS index of journal articles, but are for the use of different entities associated with the CIOS. If your institution is a member of the CIOS, choose the first option, Journals indexes (all journals/all fields)---users from affiliate institutions only. If you havce joined the CIOS individually, choose the second option, Journals indexes (all journals/all fields)---users who are individual CIOS members only.

The third search option--ComAbstracts article abstracts database--is open to everyone, and is probably the most common starting place. This is where you will find results most similar to the searches in traditional literature databases. There is further discussion of this option in section 5.2.

The fourth search option is the Hotline archives, effectively a set of archived CIOS newsgroups. The kind of information you'll find here may be other academics' opinions on topics that came up in the hotlines, or references that they have written into the hotlines in response to queries. In the Hotline archives search screen you can choose one or more hotlines. When you're done, you will receive a list of results, from which you can choose a specific Hotline item. In this case, a CRTNET digest was found (CRTNET is the NCA's main mailing list).

The fifth search option is the CIOS Resource libraries, a wealth of information sources that includes almost everything on the CIOS website including EJC articles. Like the Hotline archives search, In the CIOS Resource libraries search screen you can choose one or more categories of resource library. When you're done, you will receive a list of results, from which you can choose a specific item. In this case, an EJC article was found.

The sixth and final search option is the ComWebMegaSearch. This allows you to find items on the web that relate to the search terms. The result of this search was 47 matching web pages, which included a dissertation. These web pages are external to the CIOS website.

5.2 Linking concepts and authors

One of the VCCE's strengths is the ability to link concepts to authors, and those authors to others.

5.2.1 Linking an author to a concept and finding material written by that author

You can search for an author, to see what concepts that author has written about. The same kind of history and frequency information is available as in the concept maps above.

As in the concept maps, right-clicking on any one of the concepts surrounding an author brings up a context menu. Choosing Search in this context menu allows you to perform the same searches descibed in 5.1 above. In this example, we have chosen to search ComAbstracts for articles about cognition by the chosen author (Hample), which resulted in finding three articles.

5.2.2 Linking an concept to several authors and locating a specific author

Or, if you've made a map of several concepts, right-clicking on the concept and choosing Author in the context menu will bring up a new window in which that concept is surrounded by authors who have written about it. You can start to search for items that authors have written, or contact details for the authors, from either of the two starting points above. In this example, we have double-clicked on cognition in the concept maps that were created in section 5.1, and found that several authors have written about it.

As in the concept maps, right-clicking on an item (in this case an author's name instead of a concept) brings up a context menu. In this example, we have chosen to locate the author, by clicking Locate. This search used the CIOS White Pages, although you can also search the ICA membership database.

Go back to the Introduction.