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Chapter 1

Introduction to Research Methods


Communication Research

Still curious about the discipline of communication? Do you wonder what communication scholars study? View this article by the National Communication Association, and you’ll discover why communication is ubiquitous, complex, and consequential—and worthy of study.


Students Ask "Why Study Communication Research?"

Eric Fife's study explores this question. Here's what he found: Students report that they learn (a) what counts as a good source, (b) how to conduct library research, and (c) how to write a research-based report. Research methods courses also help students make links to the research presented in other courses. Students also reported that others were impressed with their research skills. Source: Fife, E. (2008). Student reaction to research methods classes. Journal of the Northwest Communication Association, 37, 103-117.


Research Results

Many research results are readily available on the internet. Some interesting sites are described here, but you’ll be able to find many others.


1. The website for the Gallup Organization features several polls, along with background information about the issue that prompted each poll and details about the poll itself. An index of recent polls lets you check to see if there has been a poll of interest to you. The site also includes a search function allowing you to enter any word or phrase to determine if a Gallup Poll about your topic exists.

2. The website of The Annenberg Public Policy Center, associated with The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, reports research conducted by the center on political communication, information and society, media and the developing child, health communication, and adolescent risk. Check under “Research Areas” to view or download research reports.

3. Search the Washington Post website to view previous political polling results. 

4. Use Google Scholar's website to find results of scholarly research reports. It's best to search by an author's name or topic.

5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly publishes its public health-related research in its weekly Morbidity and Mortality report.


Why Do Researchers Do What They Do?

The Journal of Research Practice explored the practice of research across disciplines. A special webpage devoted to students' views of research practice is particularly insightful.



Updated August 3, 2020

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