Jenny Jiang, Qian Xu publish research examining #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate hashtags

The School of Communications faculty members introduced a new method, coherency network analysis, to delve into the dynamics of social media text.

As part of their recent research project, published in October in the journal Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics, School of Communications faculty members Jenny Jiang and Qian Xu conducted a case analysis scrutinizing tweets associated with the hashtags #StopAsianHate and #BlackLivesMatter. The peer-reviewed publication is considered a leading multidisciplinary periodical in the field of methodology and analytics.

A photo composite of the two professors headshots side by side.
Jenny Jiang (left), assistant professor of communication design, and Qian Xu, professor of strategic communications, frequently conduct research addressing topics relating to social media use, online behavior, and user interface and user experience design.

The co-researchers introduced a new method, coherency network analysis, to delve into the dynamics of social media text – specifically looking at X, widely known by its previous name, Twitter. This innovative method provides valuable insights into the emergence and evolution of topics, sentiments, or social movements within the digital sphere.

“The findings from our case study bear significant implications for the realm of social media research,” Jiang said. “They shed light on the co-evolution of discourse and the role of coherency network analysis in comprehending the interconnectedness between two pivotal racial justice movements and the formation of cross-racial solidarity. By employing coherency network analysis, our study offers a comprehensive view of interactions and influences among various types of Twitter users, underscoring the importance of this methodological approach in unraveling the intricacies of online discourse.”

According to Jiang, one noteworthy implication is the considerable impact of mega influencers, despite their limited numbers, on the other three user types. These influential figures played a central role in stimulating extensive discussions on cross-racial solidarity within social media, often by expressing contrasting viewpoints. Their use of co-hashtags like #solidarity and the term “solidarity” triggered public conversations, with micro-influencers serving as intermediaries between mega influencers and regular users.

“It’s essential to note that regular users emerged as the most significant contributors in promoting public discussions on the subject of cross-racial solidarity,” Jiang added.

Jiang and Xu regularly contribute to research and dialogue regarding social media use, online behavior, and user interface and user experience design. Last fall, Jiang published research examining the technology usage of individuals who watch television while also using a secondary electronic device (smartphone, tablet, etc.). Additionally, Jiang and Xu collaborated with Ashleigh Afromsky ’22 to examine the job descriptions of nearly 35,000 positions related to media analytics following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, Jiang was presented with the School of Communications’ Excellence in Scholarship Award, recognizing her scholarly and creative work. At the event, Communications Dean Kenn Gaither marveled at the assistant professor’s creativity and accessibility, and called her a “prolific researcher.”

Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics is a multidisciplinary journal exploring the different methods and assessment techniques which drive improvements to research efficiency, reliability and transparency. The journal welcomes submissions in all areas of research metrics and analytics which focus on theories and practices that have the potential to measure, evaluate and improve research quality, scientific inquiry and its applications across multiple disciplines.