Letter from the Editor

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication is an online research encyclopedia dedicated to the large and diverse scholarly world of Communication research. Launched in 2015, it publishes essays based on up-to-date, impactful scholarship written by respected authorities in the field. As a dynamic and constantly evolving research tool, it weds the tradition at Oxford University Press of publishing authoritative reference works with the flexibility afforded by a digital environment. 

The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication is developed for researchers, teachers, and students interested in all facets of the study of communication. Essays examine the evolution and structure of research programs; the questions and puzzles that drive research; and the relationships between theory, methods, and empirical data. In doing so, they provide information about their subjects and also highlight unresolved questions and potential new directions for research. 

To date, the encyclopedia has published more than 500 essays. It has also spawned several spin-off encyclopedias in various subfields of the discipline, from journalism studies to intergroup communication, and from risk messaging and health communication to cultural and critical approaches. Collectively, these efforts serve both as references as well as snapshots of the state of knowledge in the field. 

At the same time, one of the original aims of the ORE of Communication was to utilize the affordance of the digital environment to update essays to reflect developments in the field. Moving forward, the encyclopedia therefore will not only publish essays on new topics and issues. It will also revisit and refresh existing ones to ensure that readers have access to the latest information. In this way, the encyclopedia seeks to embody in practice the idea, long familiar to scholars, that knowledge is never static. 

Part of the dynamism of Communication research comes from the diverse array of scholars producing this knowledge. The encyclopedia aims to facilitate this diversity by seeking out and publishing work that is sensitive to the ways that communication phenomena vary across contexts and experiences. 

In his inaugural letter, the encyclopedia’s founding editor Jon F. Nussbaum wrote: “We are in the midst of the greatest shift in the publishing environment since the advent of the printing press.” This remains true nearly a decade on. The possibilities these shifts entail remain exciting. In utilizing them, the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication seeks to continue playing a significant role in the discipline.

Matthew Powers
University of Washington, Seattle