Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Methods of Inquiry

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Media and Communications

DESCRIPTION Students become familiar with differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods as responses to different questions that scholars have about various aspects of communications phenomena. The chain of reasoning underlying every study is discussed in detail to reveal potential strengths and weaknesses in every study. This overview of method is followed by a discussion of operationalisation of concepts, descriptive data aggregates, sampling methods, survey designs and an introduction to inference.

The second part addresses inferential statistics and their use in the interpretation of communication phenomena. Correlation, regression, and the use of "t-test" as a statistical procedure follow a discussion on probability and standard error. Although some mathematical computations are involved, the aim of the unit is the conceptual understanding of statistical procedures (i.e. what do these procedures tell us? When do we use such procedures? What are their limitations?)

Study-Unit Aims:

The study-unit aims:

- To introduce students to different research methodologies;
- To prepare the way for good practice in the primary and secondary reasearch students need to carry out during their B.Communications (Hons) course;
- To distinguish between quantitative and qualitative modes of research and introduce a number of instruments in both modes.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative means of research;
- Know how to determine which research methodologies need be applied to a variety of research questions;
- Define operationalisation of concepts, descriptive data aggregates, sampling methods, survey designs and inference;
- Conceptualise statistical procedures.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Design empirical research projects;
- Use both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies in primary research;
- Apply statistical procedures to research.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Required text:

- Wimmer, R. D., & Dominic, J. R. (2003). Mass media research: An introduction. (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Heiman, G. W. (2000). Basic statistics for the behavioral sciences. (3rd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
- American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Other readings:

- Asamen, J. K. & Berry, G. L. (Eds.). (1998). Research paradigms, televisions and social behaviour. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Booth, W.C., Williams, J.M. & Colomb, G.G. (2003). The craft of research. (2nd. Ed.). Chicago: Chicago University Press.
- Deacon, S., Pickering, M., Golding, P., & Murdock, G. (1999). Researching communications: A practical guide to methods in media and cultural analysis. London, UK: Arnold Publishers.
- Dominic, J. R. & Fletcher, J. E. (1985). Broadcasting research methods. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. (This is an older text, however it is well worth it).
- Fowler, F. J. (Jr). (2001). Survey research methods (Applied Social Research Methods series). (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Glasser, T. L. & Salmon, C. T. (Eds.). (1995). Public opinion and the communication of consent. New York: Guilford Press.
- Gunter, B. (1999). Media research methods : Measuring audiences, reactions and impact. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Inch, E. S. & Warnick, B. (1998). Critical thinking and communication: The use of reason in argument. (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
- Kerlinger, F. N. (1986). Foundations of behavioral research (3rd ed.). Forth Worth: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (This remains a classic text in research for the social sciences).
- Rubin, R. B., Rubin, A. M. & Piele, L. J. (1996). Communication research: Strategies and sources (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
- Sirkin, R. M. (1995). Statistics for the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Salwen, M. B. & Stacks, D. W. (Eds.). (1996). An integrated approach to communication theory and research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Saviour Chircop

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.