Cyberstalking and College-Age Students: A Bibliometric Analysis across Scholarly Databases

Article excerpt

Research on the topic of cyberbullying has proliferated over the past decade, particularly on its impact on school-aged children (see Piotrowski, 2011). However, there is limited research on the incidence and impact of cyberstalldng, a related type of cyberabuse, on college-age students. Thus, it would be of interest to examine the extent of research interest in the topic across the leading databases in the social sciences and education. This paper reports on cited references, via a keyword search, for the term cyberstalking. The results showed that PsycINFO, Academic Index, Sociology Abstracts, and PROQUEST Direct indexed the majority of articles on this aberrant social malady. These findings indicate that perhaps college counselors and administrators in higher education may not be aware of the extent and impact that cyberstalking may have on college-age students.

Introduction

Cyberstalking has emerged as a new form of stalking behavior (Deirmenjian, 1999; Meloy, 2007), despite the fact that nosological issues that differentiate cyberbullying, cyberharassment, and cyberstalking continue to be debated in the literature (Durkin & Patterson, 2011 ; Sheridan & Grant, 2007). Cyberstalking is largely viewed as inappropriate, unwanted social exchange behaviors initiated by a perpetrator via online or wireless communication technology and devices. The proliferation of Smart phones and social networking has exacerbated the incidence of cyberstalking, and related cyber-abuse behaviors, over the past 5 years.

Recent research shows that, in terms of profile, cyberstalkers tend to be well educated, struggle with Internet addiction, and are over the age of 16; many are college students (see Lucks, 2004). Incidence statistics indicate that cyberstalking is quite prevalent, with victimization rates ranging from 4%-40% across college-age populations (Reyns et al., 2012).

While the scholarly literature on the topic of cyberbullying is quite extensive and interdisciplinary in nature (Piotrowski, 2011), research on cyberstalking in college-age populations is rather limited. Since this current literature is emerging and nascent in character, it would be informative to gauge the extent of research on cyberstalking from a bibliographic perspective. To that end, the current study reports on a cross-disciplinary citation analysis of scholarly research on the specific topic of cyberstalking.

Method

Previous studies have illustrated the benefits of research designs that involve trend analysis approaches on select topics in the scholarly literature (Garfield, 1979; Piotrowski & Gallant, 2009; Reynolds & Sundberg, 1976). The present study aims to obtain an overview of the scope and research emphasis on the issue of cyberstalking by conducting reference citation analyses across the following databases: PsyclNFO, Education/ERIC (Wilson), Sociology Abstracts, Expanded Academic Index, PROQUEST Direct, Social Sciences (Wilson), and Communication & Mass Media. To that end, a multi-file search strategy (see Piotrowski & Perdue, 1986) was performed on February 1, 2012.

Recent studies in the social sciences field as well as in education show that this qualitative research methodology has both practical and investigatory value (Krippendorff, 2004; Patton, 2002). The examination of research trends in the literature has served as a useful and informative exercise in addressing the popularity or shifts in attention on a host of topics of interest to both practitioners and researchers in the field of education (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). Moreover, analyses of patterns and topical emphasis in research have recently been reported on cyber-abuse issues like cyberbullying (see Jimerson, 2010; Piotrowski, 2011).

Results and Discussion

Table 1 shows the research output, based on the number of 'hits' for keyword Cyberstalking, across several key databases in the social sciences and education. …

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