The presence of vast amounts of online data has facilitated the study of the emergence and dynamics of 'issue networks'. As interest groups are actively using online resources such as web sites, blogs and social media to promote and spread their cause, there is an enormous potential in using that data to identify actors, analize opinion, controversies and information flow.
On his doctoral thesis titled Issue networks on the Web: Case study of transparency issue network in Chile [In Spanish], Dr. Castillejo focus on online issue networks, developing a framework for analysis as well as testing and evaluating tools for collection and analysis of network data.
In his Phd thesis, the author thoroughly reviewed web crawlers used in social science studies. He developed an evaluation framework based on the the quality standards defined by the ISO 25010 with a Social Scientist as a final user. Dimensions contemplated in the evaluation were: efficiency, compatibility, usability, security and portability. In regards to functional quality, the framework evaluated the ability to conduct hyperlink analysis, content analysis and network visualization.
VOSON was evaluated as the leading tool among other web crawlers used in Social Sciences and Media Studies research, in terms of quality of use and functionalities. Dr.Castillejo concludes that VOSON possesses all the necessary functionalities for the correct analysis of Issue networks (see p-155, 156 and 157 of his Phd thesis).
SocSciBot, Issuecrawler and the Webometric Analyst were also reviewed in this study.
The research was conducted at the Department of Communications, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain and it is available online through the TDX (Theses and Dissertations Online) repository.