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CSCA - Call for Papers for Special Issue: Arts Based Research in Communication Studies

Call for Papers for Special Issue: Arts Based Research in Communication Studies

Laura L. Ellingson and Erin K. Willer Co-Editors

Submission Deadline: January 27, 2025

In recent years, increasing numbers of arts-based research (ABR) projects have enriched the communication field (e.g., Carpentier & Sumiala, 2021; Drummond, 2018; Eugene, 2024; Faulkner, 2019; Harasym et al., 2024; Willer, 2021). ABR “combines the tenets of the creative arts in research contexts… to address research questions holistically” (Leavy, 2018, p. 4). Artwork can function as a prompt to elicit participants’ accounts; data created by participants; modes of analyzing data by participants and researchers; or modes of representing research outcomes (Leavy, 2018), including data dissemination to public audiences (Wang et al., 2017). ABR includes performance, poetry, photovoice, sculpting, body mapping, dance, digital storytelling, narratives, and drawing (Leavey, 2018). Artful modes of analysis and representation complement both more traditional social scientific (Ellingson, 2009; Ellingson & Sotirin, 2020) and critical communication research (Sastry, Zoller, & Basu, 2021).

For this special issue, the co-editors invite manuscripts that creatively utilize ABR. Our goal is to illuminate the possibilities of ABR for communication and the unique contributions to the ABR field made by communication scholars. We invite ABR projects on any topic in communication studies, broadly conceived. We particularly invite ABR studies that engage principles and practices of participatory research and involve making arts-based data with members of marginalized communities. Participatory approaches “disrupt and destabilize the characterization of traditional knowledge-production and social science research as objective, apolitical, and democratic” (Houh & Kalsem, 2015, p. 263). Participatory approaches offer possibilities for disenfranchised individuals to have a voice in research design, making data, and/or research outcomes and may improve communities’ ability to address their own needs (Dempsey, 2010). These communities can be defined as geographical, grounded in shared identities (race, gender, sexuality, disability), organizational (e.g., school, hospital, workplace), activity/common interest groups/teams (e.g., sports, parents, musicians, gamers, books), online communities, and so on. Researchers can be insiders and/or outsiders to the communities with whom they are engaged. 

The co-editors are open to all methods of data analysis, including critical, interpretive, qualitative, and/or quantitative methods of analysis that focus primarily on ABR data. Submissions can take the form of traditional academic manuscripts; artwork (video, audio, mixed media, photos of material/3D artwork, and so on) accompanied by a reflection on method; or feature a blend of artwork and academic prose. While projects may incorporate autoethnographic components, all submissions should include making ABR data with participants. Likewise, analysis of visual texts can be incorporated, but the analysis cannot be entirely based on publicly available data; projects must involve making ABR data with participants. 

Authors should submit their manuscripts to the Communication Studies submission site and indicate the manuscript is for the Arts Based Research in Communication Studies Special Issue by January 27, 2025.

Please direct any inquires to Laura Ellingson at and Erin K. Willer at


Carpentier, N., & Sumiala, J. (2021). Introduction: Arts-based research in communication and media studies. Comunicazioni sociali: Journal of media, performing arts and cultural studies: nuova serie: XLIII, 1, 3-10.

Dempsey, S. E. (2010). Critiquing community engagement. Management Communication Quarterly, 24(3), 359-390.

Drummond, D. K. (2018). The decision: A creative autoethnographic account with poetry. Health Communication, 33(4), 507-509.

Ellingson, L. L. (2009). Engaging crystallization in qualitative research: An introduction. Sage. 

Ellingson, L. L., & Sotirin, P. (2020). Making data in qualitative research: Engagements, ethics, and entanglements. Routledge.

Eugene, N. (2024). Narratives of narcolepsy in everyday life: Exploring intricacies of identity, sleepiness, and place. Rowan & Littlefield. 

Faulkner, S. (2019). Poetic inquiry: Craft, method, and practice. Routledge. 

Harasym, J. A., Gross, D. P., MacLeod, A. A., & Phelan, S. K. (2024). “This Is a Look Into My Life”: Enhancing Qualitative Inquiry Into Communication Through Arts-Based Research Methods. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 23, 16094069241232603.

Houh, E. M., & Kalsem, K. (2015). Theorizing legal participatory action research: Critical race/feminism and participatory action research. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(3), 262-276.

Leavy, P. (Ed.). (2017). Handbook of arts-based research. Guilford Publications.

Sastry, S., Zoller, H. M., & Basu, A. (2021). Doing critical health communication: A forum on methods. Frontiers in Communication, 5, 637579.

Wang, Q., Coemans, S., Siegesmund, R., & Hannes, K. (2017). Arts-based methods in socially engaged research practice: A classification framework. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 2(2), 5-39.

Willer, E. K. (2021). Running-in (to) transition: Embodied practice under the load of infertility, baby loss, and motherhood. Health Communication, 36(10), 1176-1187.

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