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A holistic approach to the analysis of online profiles

Helena Bukvova (Chair of Information Management, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden, Germany)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 June 2012




The article aims to present a holistic approach to analysis of patterns on complex online profiles, demonstrated on profiles of European scientists.


An existing analytical framework was developed to incorporate a holistic understanding of online profiles. The framework was applied to a sample of 188 online profiles belonging to 48 European scientists. The profile data were studied on three levels (content‐unit level, profile‐instance level, and profile‐network level), using methods of the qualitative comparative analysis to derive profiling patterns.


The approach developed in this work generated profiling patterns for European scientists. The patterns exist on all three levels, forming a hierarchy. This pattern structure shows the variety of ways in which scientists can use the internet for self‐presentation.


The study was based on a holistic understanding of online self‐presentation, acknowledging that personal presentation can be spread across different platforms. The study presented shows how this understanding can be used when analysing online profiling behaviour. The profiling patterns of European scientists identified in this study supplement existing typologies. The study serves as a foundation to structure further research as well as to inform practitioners.



Bukvova, H. (2012), "A holistic approach to the analysis of online profiles", Internet Research, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 340-360.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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