The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research has issued the following call for proposals:
I. Editorial Team
• Tom Boellstorff, University of California, Irvine
• Celia Pearce, Georgia Tech University
• Dmitri Williams, University of Southern California
• Thomas Malaby, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
• Elizabeth Dean, RTI
• Tracy Tuten, East Carolina University
II. Call for Proposals
The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research announces a special issue devoted entirely to research methods and virtual worlds with the objective of creating a methodological toolbox for researchers. The editors for this special issue invite submissions from a broad array of disciplinary approaches.
Methods can include (but are not limited to):
• Physical-world and in-world ethnography
• Focus Groups
• Interviews (both physical-world and in-world)
• Design Research/Playtesting
• Experimental Methods
• Back-End Data-Collection-Based Research
This special issue has three overarching goals:
(1) To provide case studies featuring methods currently being developed and used in virtual worlds research in academia and industry. These contributions will emphasize practical information about how to design and implement various research methods.
(2) To discuss how multiple methods can be integrated in research design.
(3) To explore the key theoretical debates pertaining to method. Authors are encouraged to include a critical perspective, including discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of their own methods.
With these goals in mind, themed sections for the special issue will be as follows:
(1) Methods Toolbox
Papers targeted for this section should describe specific methods and how they are employed in different types of research, including:
• Practical “how-to” articles that present the basics of a given method, and how it has been modified for virtual worlds research.
• Specific case studies that describe how a method was developed and used for a specific project, including an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses.
• Research ethics and human subjects boards: how do we ensure that differing methods are conducted with ethical responsibilities to our research subjects, and how can we effectively explain our methods to human subjects boards?
(2) Methods and Research Design
Papers targeted for this section should discuss how methods can be combined to enhance different research results, including:
• Conceptual challenges: which methods to mix? Which to leave out? These questions concern the relationship between methods and research questions.
• Practical challenges: how to allocate sufficient time and attention to differing methods within a single research project.
• Write-up challenges: how to present the relationships between differing methods when publishing research findings.
(3) Debates about Method
Papers targeted for this section should discuss broad theoretical debates confronting methodologies for virtual worlds research, including:
• Key concepts: particularly because this is a relatively new area of research, many debates about research methods for virtual worlds arise because participants are talking past each other, due to the fact that key concepts do not have a shared meaning. What are some provisional conceptual frameworks that can facilitate more illuminating discussions of research methods in virtual worlds?
• Epistemologies: how do ways of seeing and meaning-making, as well as cultural or disciplinary approaches and biases, influence research approaches and outcomes with regard to virtual worlds? How can we avoid forms of “methodological partisanship” that claim certain methods have an epistemological privilege over others? When should generalizability be a goal, or not? When should causality be a goal, or not?
• Funding biases: how do differing sources of research funding shape debates over methodology? How can we better explain the value of various methods to funders?
III. Key Dates
Abstracts Due: 15 September 2009
Abstract Judgments Due to Authors: 15 October 2009
Full Papers Due: 5 January 2010
Initial Approval of Papers by Guest Editors Due: 1 February 2010
Final Drafts Approved by the Guest Editors Due: 1 March 2010
Publication Date: 2 April 2010