Trends in distance education research: A content analysis of journals 2009-2013


  • Aras Bozkurt
  • Ela Akgun-Ozbek
  • Sibel Yilmazel
  • Erdem Erdogdu
  • Hasan Ucar
  • Emel Guler
  • Sezan Sezgin
  • Abdulkadir Karadeniz
  • Nazife Sen-Ersoy
  • Nil Goksel-Canbek
  • Gokhan Deniz Dincer
  • Suleyman Ari
  • Cengiz Hakan Aydin Anadolu University



open and distance learning, Distance education trends, distance education issues, research evaluation, content analysis


This study intends to explore the current trends in the field of distance education research during the period of 2009-2013. The trends were identified by an extensive review of seven peer reviewed scholarly journals: The American Journal of Distance Education (AJDE), Distance Education (DE), The European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning (EURODL), The Journal of Distance Education (JDE), The Journal of Online Learning and Technology (JOLT), Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning (OL) and The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (IRRODL). A total of 861 research articles was reviewed. Mainly content analysis was employed to be able to analyze the current research. Also, a social network analysis (SNA) was used to interpret the interrelationship between keywords indicated in these articles. Themes were developed and the content of the articles in the selected journals were coded according to categories derived from earlier studies. The results were interpreted using descriptive analysis (frequencies) and social network analysis. The reporting of the results were organized into the following categories: research areas, theoretical and conceptual frameworks, variables, methods, models, strategies, data collection and analysis methods, and the participants. The study also identified the most commonly used keywords, and the most frequently cited authors and studies in distance education. The findings obtained in this study may be useful in the exploration of potential research areas and identification of neglected areas in the field of distance education.  

Author Biography

Cengiz Hakan Aydin, Anadolu University

I am a professor in Anadolu University of Turkey where I teach courses on open and distance learning, such as ODL Course Design, Comtemporary Trends in ODL, ODL Research. I have also been serving as one of the senior instructional designers at the Distance Education Course Materials Design Team for years.   My studies mainly focus on social and cultural aspects of ODL.



How to Cite

Bozkurt, A., Akgun-Ozbek, E., Yilmazel, S., Erdogdu, E., Ucar, H., Guler, E., … Aydin, C. H. (2015). Trends in distance education research: A content analysis of journals 2009-2013. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 16(1).



Research Articles