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5.7: Communication Research Summary

  • Page ID
    184634
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    Summary

    Communication research is important because it focuses on a common goal—to enhance our interactions with others. In this chapter we highlighted how research is done and the basic steps that guide most research projects—identify the topic, write a research question, define key terms, select a methodology, establish a sample, gather and analyze the data, and finally, interpret and share the results. When conducting research, three factors motivate the choices we make: our intended outcomes, theoretical preferences, and methodological preferences. Depending on these factors, research may lead us to greater understanding, allow us to predict or control a communication situation, or create cultural change.

    Conceptualizing Communication research can be done more easily by understanding the three broad methodological approaches/paradigms for conducting Communication research: Rhetorical Methodologies, Quantitative Methodologies, and Qualitative Methodologies. The rhetorical approach evaluates messages in various contexts such as political discourse, art, and popular culture. A variety of methods are available such as neo-aristotelian, fantasy theme, narrative, pentadic, feminist, and ideological criticism. Quantitative methods are characterized by counting phenomena and are useful for predicting communication outcomes or comparing cultures and populations. They include experimental research, surveys, content analysis, and meta-analysis. Qualitative methods offer the opportunity to understand human communication as it occurs in a “natural” context rather than a laboratory setting. This is accomplished through ethnography, focus groups, action research, unobtrusive research, historiography, and case studies. While these approaches share similarities, their focus and specific methods are quite different and produce different outcomes. No research methodology or method is better than another. Instead, approaches to Communication research simply reveal different aspects of human communication in action.

    DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    1. If you were going to conduct communication research, what topic(s) would be most interesting to you? What specific questions would you want to ask and answer? How would you go about doing this?
    2. Of the three broad research methodologies, do you find yourself having a preference for one of them? If so, what specific type of research method would you want to use within the area you have a preference for?
    3. If you were going to conduct research, what outcome would you want to gain from your research? Are you more interested in understanding, prediction/control, or creating social change? What is the value of each of these approaches?

    KEY TERMS

    • action research
    • case studies
    • content analysis
    • continuum of intended outcomes
    • control group
    • critical/cultural change
    • ethnography
    • data
    • experimental group
    • experimental research
    • fantasy theme
    • feminist
    • focus group interviewing
    • historiography
    • ideological
    • key terms
    • meta-analysis
    • methodological preferences
    • methodology
    • narrative
    • neo-Aristotelian
    • pentadic
    • prediction/control
    • qualitative methodologies
    • quantitative methodologies
    • research
    • research focus
    • research questions
    • rhetorical methodologies
    • sample
    • survey research
    • theoretical preferences
    • understanding
    • unobtrusive research

    Contributions and Affiliations

    • Survey of Communication Study. Authored by: Scott T Paynton and Linda K Hahn. Provided by: Humboldt State University. Located at: en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Survey_of_Communication_Study/Preface. License: CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike

    This page titled 5.7: Communication Research Summary is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Scott T. Paynton & Laura K. Hahn with Humboldt State University Students.