Research Projects

Members of the Computational Communication Science Lab (CCL) are involved in a range of third-party funded research projects. On this page, we provide information on ongoing and recently concluded projects, listed in the order of their starting dates. Concluded Research Projects are listed here. Please contact the involved researchers for further information.

Social Issue Emergence in the Hybrid Media System

The project explores the emergence of social issues on social media, which we observe in popular hashtag campaigns such as #metoo or #blacklivesmatter. It is a highly relevant to democracy and civil society phenomenon, as these issues begin as discussions on social media, and with time, they can become crucial, widely discussed topics further picked up by professional news media. In this project, the researchers will develop a comprehensive explanation of the social issue emergence using interviews, content analysis, and agent-based modeling. The project aims to explain the underlying logic of the process and investigate which groups participate in the hashtag debates in which stages and in what way. As a result of the three-year research project, the team will produce a universal, dynamic, multi-level model of social issue emergence. The model will help us understand this phenomenon and predict social issue emergence in the future.

Duration: 2023-2026
Involved researchers at CCL: Annie Waldherr (PI), Kateryna Maikovska, Moritz Sedlatschek
External Website:
Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Listening to Literature: Experiencing Literary Audiobooks

Auditory reception has always been an important form of literary consumption, but in the 21st century, listening to literature, particularly in the form of audiobooks, has once again become a widespread activity. However, despite their popularity, audiobooks are often credited with being a shallow and less demanding alternative to reading and cannot replace reading the printed book. Since there is still very little empirical research on listening to literature, it seems important to thoroughly examine the specific practices and experiences of listening to literary audiobooks and to compare them with traditional print reading. Due to the lack of empirical studies on audiobook listening, especially with a focus on literary texts, the project uses a mixed-methods approach to explore the addressed phenomena in as many ways as possible. The transdisciplinary conception of our project combines theoretical and methodological approaches from literary studies, communication science, and media psychology based on a multidisciplinary research team.

Duration: 01.01.2023-31.12.2025
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden, Lukas Kosch, Annika Schwabe
External Website:
Funding: FWF

PolarVis: Visual Persuasion in a Transforming Europe

Climate change has been called the defining crisis of our time. In the last few years, millions of people have taken to the streets to demand urgent action on the escalating ecological emergency. Social media have had great importance in the development of the movement. For example, the virality of posts on Twitter and Instagram has quickly transformed the activist Greta Thunberg into an iconic figure, attracting supportive but also openly hostile reactions. The importance of images in the online communication of the movement and the emotions moving these activists and those who attack them online draw attention to the symbolic and emotional role of images for social movements. The PolarVis project will examine the role of visual content in processes of political polarization and belonging in the digital age by focusing on the intergenerational issue of climate change and the green transition.

PolarVis: Visual persuasion in a transforming Europe: The affective and polarizing power of visual content in online political discourse will be led by Annie Waldherr (PI) and Nicola Righetti (Co-PI), and supported by a postdoctoral researcher as well as a student research assistant. The funding provided by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) totals to around € 300.000 over the course of the next three years. The Viennese project of PolarVis is part of a large and interdisciplinary international consortium within the CHANSE initiative. The consortium is led by Alexandra Segerberg of the Department of Government at Uppsala Universitet, Sweden.

Further information on the project can be accessed here.

Duration: 2022-2025
Involved researchers at CCL: Annie Waldherr (PI), Nicola Righetti (Co-PI), Petro Tolochko, Sofia Iriarte Aguirre,  Zsófia Cseri.
Funding organization: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

OPINION: What are Opinions? Integrating Theory and Methods for Automatically Analyzing Opinionated Communication

OPINION will establish the field of textual opinion research, a critical upgrade for the emerging field of computational communication science. For the first time bringing together researchers studying opinionated text across and beyond Europe, the Action aims to provide the much-needed conceptual grounding, methodological integration and training to significantly advance the use of computational methods for studying digital text. OPINION convenes early- and mid-career researchers from 30 European countries, Israel, Russia and the US, integrating cutting-edge expertise from different disciplines (notably, communication science, computational linguistics, IT) while networking the many, hitherto largely disconnected language communities of textual researchers. The Action will develop united conceptual foundations and research agendas, as well as versatile computational measurement strategies for the study of opinionated text, while advancing computational skills and building a community of computational textual opinion researchers. Thereby, OPINION turns the linguistic and political-cultural fragmentation of European digital discourses into a key asset toward the development of a truly multilingual, culturally sensitive field of computational text analysis. This bid comes at a critical moment, challenging the primacy of US-focused, corporate-driven, English-language computational text research, establishing a powerful counterweight of collaborative academic research and tool development committed to open science principles and inclusive training. OPINION will provide research and industry with the robust tools needed to analyze digital text; equip politicians with the perspectives needed to regulate online deliberation spaces; aid citizen initiatives in maneuvering political landscapes; and create dialogue with tech giants about the impact of the algorithmic affordances on public deliberation and democracy.

Duration: 2 Sept 2022 - ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Fabienne Lind (Management Committee Member for Austria & active in WG2: Tools), Annie Waldherr (WG1: Theory)
External Website: 
Funding: COST

Translocal Networks II

In this project, we investigate discourses on conflicts around space and natural resources and study how they are negotiated in social media communication. Our aim is to map out communication in contested spaces by conducting four case studies, each representing a locally rooted spatial conflict which simultaneously links to the global issue of climate justice. The cases vary with regard to actor constellations and power relations, and are located in four different countries (Germany, Brazil, United States, and Israel), each carrying varying political and social relevance in relation to climate change. On the level of (1) interaction networks, we ask how different communities are involved in climate justice discourses, and how they are rooted in space and locality. With regard to (2) issue spaces, we ask how actors connect local conflicts to similar issues in other places: which places are named and made relevant in the discourse, and how are they connected to translocal meta-narratives of climate justice and environmentalism? Finally, we also investigate the (3) spatial imaginations that social media users share in their textual and visual communication, examining how these are related to conflicting spatial figures and mobilized through political action.

Duration: 1 January 2022 - ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Annie Waldherr (Mercator Fellow)
External Website: Project Website at CRC 1265, Berlin 
Funding: German Research Foundation

CCS DFG Network

This network is a DFG-funded association of 18 communication scientists working in the research field of Computational Communication Science which is coordinated by Prof. Stephanie Geise, University of Bremen. While CCS is becoming more and more established in communication science, it also faces ongoing challenges. Next to a still outstanding methodological reflection on the application of computational methods, there is a call for a stronger theoretical grounding. In the DFG network, we tackle these challenges by demonstrating how CCS can contribute to solving complex research questions in the field of online protest, and how it can be integrated into the existing canon of theory and methods in communication research.

Duration: 1 December 2021 - ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Annie Waldherr (Member)
External Website:

MEDem - Monitoring European Democracy

MEDem - Monitoring Electoral Democracy is a proposed research infrastructure of national and comparative projects, providing an integrating framework for existing and potentially new projects that until now study and monitor European Electoral Democracies in a less coordinated, comprehensive and comparative manner. To support this endeavour, MEDem seeks to submit an application to be included in the ESFRI Roadmap in 2023. The MEDem Core Team is located at Vienna University, led by Prof. Hajo Boomgaarden (PI) and Prof. Sylvia Kritzinger (PI) of the Department of Government.
Duration: 1 April 2022 - ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden (PI), Jakob-Moritz Eberl, Olga Eisele, Emmanuel Meillan, Andrea Stockinger
External Website:
Funding: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research


The spreading of misinformation via social media contributes to a global threat to trust in science and democratic institutions, with consequences for public health and societal conflicts. Emotions influence how we process information, suggesting a link between certain emotional states and misinformation spreading – especially in times of high uncertainty. The project aims at understanding how emotions influence the tendency to believe and share inaccurate content, and to test intervention strategies to mitigate emotional misinformation spreading. Using digital data traces, the research team will analyze patterns of emotional misinformation spreading on social media and use experimental studies testing the potential of individual emotion regulation interventions to reduce misinformation sharing. Finally, we will integrate results from social media analysis and experimental studies in an agent-based model to identify the most promising interventions to reduce misinformation spreading in social networks, and to simulate how algorithmic filters for emotional information affect the spreading of misinformation.
Duration: 1 Dec 2021 - ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Annie Waldherr (PI), Jula Lühring
External Website: Project Website
Funding: Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF)


Digitize! is a collaboration of four Austrian universities, including the University of Vienna. Coordinated by Sylvia Kritzinger (Department of Government), the project includes social scientists, but also data scientists, legal scholars and experts in research ethics. The overall aim of Digitize! Is to establish and enhance Computational Social Sciences in Austria through cooperation and interdisciplinary collaboration. Hajo Boomgaarden is leader of work package 3 focusing on validity and measurement equivalence of social scientific techniques, analyzing various text types across different points in time. The aim is to provide a more critical and reflective approach to computational text analysis. Hajo Boomgaarden is supported by Jana Bernhard.
Duration: ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden (PI), Jana Bernhard
External Website:
Funding: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (2019 Call ‘Digital and Social Transformation in University Education’)


The EU-funded H2020 project OPTED - 'Observatory for Political Texts in European Democracies: A European research infrastructure', is a design study with 17 involved research institutions. The design study lays the foundation for an infrastructure that will serve a major hub for political text analysis in Europe. Among the objectives of the infrastructure are scientific community building, the extension of text analysis tools, and learning materials for social scientists, the broader public and journalists. The Project is coordinated by Hajo Boomgaarden and carried out with 17 academic partner institutions. Hajo Boomgaarden, Annie Waldherr, supported by Fabienne Lind and Paul Balluff, lead the work package 'Journalistic political texts', which will provide an extensive overview about main sources, publicly available data collections,and methods specifically designed to obtain and work with journalistic, mass mediated political texts.

Duration: 1 Oct 2020 – ongoing (3 years)
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden (COO + PI), Annie Waldherr (PI), Fabienne Lind, Paul Balluff, Zita Zeberer, Marvin Stecker
External Website:
Funding: European Union - Horizon2020

Austrian Corona Panel Project

The Austrian Corona Panel Project investigates how information, attitudes, and behaviours are distributed across the population, and how these develop in the course of the crisis. The study is based on a panel survey with a sample of 1500 respondents, which represents the sociodemographic structure of the Austrian population. Between the end of March 2020 and the beginning of July 2020 the survey was conducted in a weekly rhythm, from then on the interval was successively increased and since August 2020 the data are collected monthly. The questionnaire contains a set of core questions that is asked in each survey wave as well as changing modules that go deeper into certain dimensions and are surveyed at larger intervals. This makes it possible to monitor important trends and to focus on key issues and aspects such as family, work, politics or media.

Duration: 27 March 2020 – ongoing
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden (Co-PI), Jakob-Moritz Eberl, Noelle Lebernegg
External Website: Vienna University Project Website
Funding: Vienna Science and Technology Fund, Rectorate of the University of Vienna, Social Survey Austria, Vienna Chamber of Labour, Federation of Austrian Industries, Austrian Science Fund


The project "Youth Skills" (Co-PI: Hajo Boomgaarden) is funded by the European Horizon 2020 Program for Research and Innovation. "Youth Skills" (ySkills) started in January 2020. It examines the risks and opportunities of ICT use among children and young people and their digital skills in terms of cognitive, physical, psychological and social well-being. The project, which will run for 48 months, is coordinated by Prof. Dr. Leen D'Haenens (KU Leuven) and carried out with 15 academic partner institutions. Hajo Boomgaarden and Hyunjin Song lead the central methodological work package "Explanatory and Foresight Modelling", in which advanced and innovative analysis strategies are applied to "ySkills" data and simulation studies.

Duration: 1 Jan 2020 – ongoing (4 years)
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden (PI), Hyunjin Song, Petro Tolochko
External Website:
Funding: European Union - Horizon2020

Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences and Cures

"Knowledge Resistance: Causes, Consequences, and Cures" is a multi- and interdisciplinary research programme funded by the independent Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. The main goal of this interdisciplinary program is to investigate the nature and causes of knowledge resistance. Resistance to knowledge is the failure to absorb knowledge that is generally available. A central hypothesis is that knowledge resistance is the result of a complex interaction between emotions, cognition, social interaction and information flow. This means that an appropriate investigation of the phenomenon necessarily requires an interdisciplinary approach. The program is divided into four interconnected work packages: I. Fundamental questions on the nature of knowledge resistance, II. the motivational roots of resistance to knowledge, III. possible consequences of knowledge resistance for the democratic process, and IV, the role of media, media use and media trust. Together with Jesper Strömbäck (PI), Yariv Tsfati and Rens Vliegenthart, Hajo Boomgaarden will lead the work package "The role of media, media use and media trust". The project has a duration of six years (2019-2025).

Duration: 2019 - ongoing (6 years)
Involved Researchers at CCL: Hajo Boomgaarden, Noelle Lebernegg, Sebastian Galyga
External Website: Project Website at Stockholm University (Coordinator)
Funding: Riksbankens Jubileumsfond