Com 502: Communication Research (Spring 2000)

Instructor: Dr. Guo-Ming Chen
Meeting Times: PROV, W 6-8:45pm
Office: I206B
Office Phone: (401) 874-4731
Office Hours: 12:00-1:30pm M& F and by appointment

General Course Statement:

The purpose of this course is to extend Com 306, both in breadth and depth, by examining social and behavioral research methods applicable to the study of communication problems and processes. At the end of the semester, students in this class are expected to acquire in-depth knowledge of communication research methodology, the ability to evaluate communication research studies, and the ability to independently conduct communication research.

Texts: Frey, L. R., Botan, C. H., Friedman, P. G., & Kreps, G. L. (2000). Investigating communication: An introduction to research methods. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. (required)
Katzer, J., Cook, K. H., & Crouch, W. W. (1998). Evaluating information: A guide for users of social science research. Boston, MA: McGrow-Hill. (required)
Herrigel, E. (1971). Zen in the art of archery. New York: Vintage. (required)
Rubin, R. B., Rubin, A. M., & Piele, L. J. (2000). Communication research: Strategies and sources. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. (optional)
Required Readings (see syllabus and attached)

Requirements: You are required to

1. attend and participate in all class meetings.
2. complete a research prospectus (13-15 pages. Details to be given).
3. complete a presentation on the research prospectus.
4. complete a final exam
complete four projects (Details to be given)
6. use the university computer system (e-mail).

Policies & Expectations:

1. All the written assignments must be typed. The research paper will be graded for content and format. The presentation time for research prospectus is 10-12 minutes.

Course Evaluation: Final grades will be cumulative and based on

1. Four Projects 40%
2. Research Prospectus 30%
3. Presentation 10%
4. Final Exam 20%



Week 1 (1/19) Introduction to Course

Week 2-3 Definition and Centrality of Communication Discipline
(1/26, 2/2) The Discipline
The Nature of Communication
Communication Research Model
Read: Chaps 1 & 2 (Frey)
Chaps 1 & 2 (Katzer) |
Hawes: The scientific attitude
Smith: Contemporary research paradigms
Tucker, Weaver, & Berryman-Fink: The need for research in speech communication
Wiber: Three eyes of the soul
Exercises and Discussions

Week 4-6 Theory and Process of Communication Research
(2/9, 2/16, 2/23) Research Model Continued
Conceptual Definition
Variables, Research Questions, and Hypotheses
Theoretical Foundation
Communication Research Sources
Read: Chaps 2, 3 & 15 (Frey)
Chaps 3, 4, & 5 (Katzer)
Babbie: Quantitative or qualitative
Beveridge: Imagination
Isaac & Michael: Planning research studies
Townsend: Formation of hypotheses
Wagenaar: Some guidelines for reading and assessing research reports in the social
Whetten: What constitutes a theoretical contribution
Exercises and Discussions

Week 7-10 Observing and Measuring
(3/1, 3/8, 3/22) Operational Definition
Validity and Reliability
Research Ethics
Spring Recess (Week 9: 3/13-3/17)
Read: Chaps 4, 5, & 6 (Frey)
Chaps 6-10 & 14-15 (Katzer)
Kaplan: Validity
Kerlinger: Foundations of measurement
Exercises and Discussions

Week 11-13 Methods for Conducting Communication Research
(3/29, 4/5, 4/12) Experimental Research
Survey Research
Naturalistic Research
Read: Chaps 7, 8, & 10 (Frey)
Chaps 11-12 (Katzer)
Exercises and Discussions

Week 14-15 Analyzing and Interpreting Quantitative Data
(4/19, 4/26) Descriptive Statistics
Inferential Statistics
Difference Analysis
Relationship Analysis
Read: Chaps 11-14 (Frey)
Chaps 13 (Katzer)
Exercises and Discussions

Week 16 Presentation of Research Prospectus

(5/3) Final Exam


Required Readings:

Babbie, E. (1986). Quantitative or qualitative? In his Observing ourselves: Essays in social research. (chapter 7, pp. 85-94). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Beveridge. W. T. B. (1960). Imagination. In his The art of scientific investigation (chapter 5, pp. 72-90). New York: Vintage.

Hawes, L. C. (1975). The scientific attitude. In his Pragmatics of analoguing: Theory and model construction in communication (chapter 2, 15-25). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Isaac, S., & Michael. W. B. (1981). Planning research studies. In their Handbook in research and evaluation (chapter 2, pp. 31-39). San Diego, CA: EdITS.

Kaplan, A. (1964). Validity. In his The conduct of inquiry: Methodology for behavioral science (pp. 198-207). San Francisco, CA: Chandler.

Kerlinger, F. N. (1973). Foundations of measurement. In his Foundations of behavioral research (chapter 25, pp. 426-441). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Smith, M. J. (1988). Contemporary research paradigms. In her Contemporary communication research methods (chapter 15, pp. 297-322). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Townsend, J. C. (1953). Formation of hypotheses. In his Introduction to experimental method (pp. 45-51). Boston, MA: McGrow-Hill.

Tucker, R. K., Weaver, R. L., & Berryman-Fink, C. (1981). The need for research in speech communication. In their Research in Speech Communication (chapter 1, pp. 3-23). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Wagenaar, T. C. (1981). Some guidelines for reading and assessing research reports in the social sciences. In his Reading for social research (pp. 14-29). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Whetten, D. A. (1989). What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 14, 490-495.

Wiber, K. (1996). Three eyes of the soul. In his Eye to eye: The quest for the new paradigm (pp. 2-7). Boston, MA: Shambhala.


The Format of Research Prospectus

  1. Introduction This is the background to the problem: (10%)
  1. A brief history of interest in the area.
  2. Specify unresolved issues, theoretical questions, and/or social concerns.
  3. Rationale for the study.
  1. Review of the Literature -- This is a survey of the theory and research related to the problem. It should: (40%)
  1. Conceptual definition of the variables.
  2. Critique and summarize prior research. This is a review of how the variables have been
  3. studied and includes results, conclusions, and weakness.

  4. Establish the basis for your study. That is, it should isolate issues which merit further


  1. Problem Statement -- Drawing from the literature review, explain the issues you plan to investigate. It should: (10%)
  1. Identify variables (dependent and independent variables).
  2. Delineate the research problem to explain the relationships expected among variables (research questions or hypotheses).
  1. Methodology
  1. Method (10%)
    1. Describe why the research method (e.g., survey research) is used.

2. Instruments (10%)

    1. Operational definitions of dependent and independent variables
    2. Instrument - explain the measures (e.g., questionnaire) you will use,
  1. Participants and procedures (10%)
    1. Selection of subjects (i.e., who and how to get them - sampling procedure).
    2. Explain how materials will be distributed.
    3. Describe how data will be collected.
    4. Describe how data will be analyzed.
  1. Results (omitted)
  1. Discussion (omitted)

V. References (10%)