CMNS 260: Empirical Communication Research Methods 1-Introduction to the Course Professor: Jan Marontate Teaching Assistants: Nawal Musleh-Motut, Megan Robertson Lab Instructor: Chris Jeschelnik School of Communication. Simon Fraser University Fall 2011 Course Organization & Handouts Syllabus & Outline of Class Sessions
Objectives Course Administration (textbook, grading, office hours) Tentative Schedule of Class Sessions Assignments: Handouts 3, 4 & 5 Course content Introduce different forms of research Analyze relationships between goals, assumptions, theories and methods Study basic data collection and analysis
techniques Research processfocusing on empirical methods Why study methods? Practical aspects learn to read other peoples research & critically evaluate it learn ways to find your own data to answer your own research questions acquire skills potential employers seek self-defense (against misinformation) & responsible citizenship
Importance of research in everyday life & in communications studies civil society --Interpersonal & intercultural relations policy decisions about life and death issues (student loans, health care, welfare benefitsetc healthcare (evidence-based medicine), Personal identity and ideas about society industry and marketing decisions (choices of products in stores, cable channels, opinion polls etc..)
..MORE.. The Research Process Babbie (1995: 101) Why study methods? Knowledge is power (to acquire skills for social action or change) Savoir pour pouvoir, Pouvoir pour prvoir (Auguste
Comte) To know to do (have power), to do (have power) in order to predict the future and plan for it Knowledge is understanding dcrire, comprendre, expliquer (Gilles Gaston Granger) to describe, to understand and to explain Research has the potential to inform and misinform even well-done research is not always used accurately
some research is technically flawed knowledge of methods an important tool for understanding logic and limits of claims about research Research Methodology (Scholarly Perspectives) Process methods logic of inquiry (assumptions & hypotheses) Produces
laws, principles and theories that can be tested (Karl Popper & notion of falsifiability for politically engaged scholars interested in the fight against genocide in the early 20th century) Research has the potential to inform and misinform even well-done research is not always used accurately some research is technically flawed knowledge of methods an important tool for understanding logic and limits of claims about
research Other Ways of Knowing authority (parents, teachers, religious leaders, media gurus) tradition (past practices) common sense media (TV. etc.) personal experience
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey Cory Doctorow Electronic Frontier Assoc. & Boingboing.net Ordinary Inquiry vs. Scholarly Inquiry Risks of Errors associated with non-scholarly knowledge selective observation--only notice some phenomena-miss others overgeneralization-evidence applied to too wide a range of conditions
premature closure--jumping to conclusions halo effect--idea of being influenced by prestige Types of Disciplines (in history) Ranking of disciplines (are they scientific or not?) Middle ages education as preparation for careers in theology trivium (studied first, language skills) logic rhetoric, grammar quadrivium
Communication as a Science? Field more recent affiliations with the sciences, social sciences & the humanities Scholarly work (like old ideas of science) distinguished from mythology by methods AND goals many different approaches Relations between theory and empirical
observation Theory and empirical research Testing theories through empirical observation (deductive) Using empirical observation to develop theories (Inductive) Empirical and Logical Foundations of Research (does not have to start with theory) Theories
The Empirical Predictions Scientific Generalizations Process (Hypotheses) Observations Source: Singleton & Straits (1999: 27); Babbie (1995: 55) Scholarly Communities--Norms universalism -- research judged on scientific merit
organized scepticism -- challenge and question research disinterestedness-- openness to new ideas, non-partisan communalism--sharing with others honesty Scholarly Publications vs. Other publications peer review by knowledgable people blind peer review
referees dont know who did it authors dont know who refereed it unpaid Research Questions Questions researchers ask themselves, not the questions they ask their informants Must be empirically testable Not too vague too general
untestable (with implicit, untested assumed outcomes) Using literature reviews to develop ideas for topics Literature review = Survey of research done on your topic. May be used to previous research may inspire you to:
replicate a project (exactly or with variations) explore unexpected findings follow suggestions for further research extend explanation or theory to new topic or setting or context challenge findings-- try to refute conclusions look for new variables, relationships not treated in literature Developing research topics
Research Paradigms Sets of shared patterns in a scholarly community about what constitutes worthwhile research (Thomas Kuhn, The structure of scientific revolutions, 1968) What problems are worth investigating? What constitutes an answer? Different views on how approaches are grouped dentifying Styles of Research: Example of Quantitative vs. Qualitative
Approaches (Common about 20-30 yrs ago but still used. .Textbook Chapter 13) Quantitative Objective Variables Reliability Value-Free Independent of Context Many cases or subjects Statistical Analysis Detached Researcher
vs. Qualitative Subjective Processes and events Authenticity Explicitly Stated Values Aware of Content Few cases or subjects Other qualities Involved Researcher
Another idea: Four Paradigms (Burrell & Morgan) radical humanist interpretive radical structuralist functionalist Order/stability/regulation
objective subjective Conflict/radical change Dimensions of Research Purpose of Study Intended Use of Study
Treatment of Time in Study Exploratory Descriptive Explanatory Basic Cross-sectional Applied Longitudinal
-Action -Panel -Impact -Time series -Evaluation -Cohort analysis -Case Study -Trend study Space Unit of
Exploratory Research When not much is known about topic Surprises (e.g. Serendipity effect) Acquire familiarity with basic concerns and develop a picture Explore feasibility of additional research Develop questions Descriptive Research Focuses on who, what and how Background information, to stimulate new
ways of thinking, to classify types, etc. Explanatory Research To test theories, predictions, etc Idea of advancing knowledge Intended Use of Study Basic Applied action research (We can make a difference) social impact assessment (What will be the effects?)
evaluation research (Did it work?) needs assessment (Who needs what?) cost-benefit analysis (What is it worth?) Basic or Fundamental Research Concerns of scholarly community Inner logic and relation to theoretical issues in field Applied Research commissioned/judged/used by people outside the field of communication
goal of practical applications usefulness of results Types of Applied Research Action Research Social Impact Assessment Needs Assessment
Evaluation Research formative (built in) summative (final outcomes) Cost-benefit analysis Treatment of Time Cross-sectional (one point in time) Longitudinal (more than one point in time)
Main Types of Longitudinal Studies Panel study Exactly the same people, at least twice Cohort Analysis
same category of people or things (but not exactly same individuals) who/which shared an experience at at least two times Examples: Birth cohorts. Graduating Classes, Video games invented in the same year 2000 2010 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 41-50
51-60 61-70 71-80 Time-series same type of info., not exactly same people, multiple time periods, e.g. Same place 2006 Burnaby residents
2011 Burnaby residents Case Studies may be longitudinal or cross-sectional Lexis Diagram (To study Cohort Survival) Units of Analysis Examples
Individual people Newspaper articles or broadcasts Individual video games Units of Analysis Families, Sports Sections etc. Units of analysis: Examples: Households
News networks (Al Jazeera, Channel News Asia, CNN) Importance of Choosing Appropriate Unit of Analysis example: Ecological Fallacy (cheating) Ecological Fallacy Ecological Fallacy
Ecological Fallacy & Reductionism ecological fallacy--wrong unit of analysis (too high) reductionism--wrong unit of analysis (too low) reductionism--wrong unit of analysis (too low) Choose Topic Focus Research Question
Inform Others Interpret Data The The Research Research Wheel
Design Wheel Study Steps in the research process Analyze Data Collect Data
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