Fall 2004


Hong Kong University-School of Professional and Continuing Education


Dr. Witmerís CSUF Office: CP-650-27 Phone: 657-278-7008
CSUF Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Web site: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/dwitmer/




Overview: This graduate seminar provides an overview of applied research methodologies for the study of communication. We will discuss the epistemological and ontological relationships between metatheoretical, theoretical, and methodological traditions. The course will include conversations on all aspects of qualitative and quantitative research, from the development of the question to the writing of the final report, but will focus on producing a literature review that develops and supports the appropriate methodology for answering various types of research questions.


Course Goals: This course develops a working knowledge of the relationships between theory, data collection, and data analysis techniques in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. It is designed to help students become knowledgeable consumers and novice producers of communications research.


Learning Objectives: By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

         read, understand, and evaluate scholarly research reports.

         develop simple research designs that are appropriate to answer specific questions.

         develop simple data collection instruments such as questionnaires.

         analyze textual and numerical data.

         prepare a review of literature that supports specific research questions and research methods.

         use research data for problem solving and decision making.




Required Texts:


         Frey, L. R., Botan, C. H., & Kreps, G. L. (2000). Investigating communication: An introduction to research methods. (2nd Ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


Also Required:


         Access to the COMM 507 Blackboard Web site, available through the CSUF Student Portal at http://my.fullerton.edu/.


Strongly Recommended:


         Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001). (5th Ed). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.




You may earn a maximum of 1,000 points during the semester. I will assign final course grades as follows:











































The points for your final course grade are earned by completing assignments, taking exams, and participating in class activities. Your final grade is based on a total of 1000 points. Each class activity is worth a maximum number of points as follows:





Possible Points

Four In-Class Exercises & Written Assignments

††††††††††††††††† 400

Scholarly Journal Article Review & Presentation

††††††††††††††††† 200

Semester Project:

††††† Project Topic

††††† Annotated Bibliography

††††† Review of Literature, Hypotheses and/or

††††††††††††††††† Research Questions, & Methodology



Pass/No Pass




††††† TOTAL400


Exercises & Assignments:


Interview Exercise (100 points)


The purpose of this in-class exercise is to illustrate the use of in-depth interviewing to elicit information from another person, and to represent that person through narrative or written portrait. It will also give you a chance to get to know a classmate. Details will be provided in class.


Professor Exercise (100 points)


The purpose of this in-class exercise is to illustrate some of the basic elements of the research process. You'll also get a chance to learn something about your professor. Details will be provided in class.


Research Process Exercise (100 points)


The purpose of this in-class exercise is to help you understand and explain a real-life event that focuses on the message behavior of the participants. It also gives you an opportunity to apply scientific method. Details will be provided in class.


Field Notes/Data Log & Observation Report (100 points)


The purpose of this assignment is to help you understand the nature of field research. It involves identification of a researchable problem, a description of how you will carry out your own research on the problem (explanation of your methodology), collection of data at a venue of your choosing, recording all observations in a data log or as field notes, and reporting in written form an analysis of your field notes. You will turn in the field notes or data log along with the written observation report.


Article Review & Presentation: (200 points)


For this assignment, you will select an exemplary scholarly journal article on any aspect of communications. You're welcome to choose one that you believe will pertain to your semester paper. The purpose of this assignment is twofold: 1) it may help get you started on your research for your paper, and 2) it will help you develop experience in the critical review and evaluation of scholarly research. See additional information and hints on the class Blackboard Web site.


Semester Project Components:


Semester Paper Topic (pass/no pass)


During the first few class sessions, give some serious thought to why the field of communications interests you, what you are curious about, and what you really want to know. The third week of class, come armed with a one- or two-page description of your first, second, and third choices for a topic you would like to tackle as a semester project.


Annotated Bibliography (100 points)


This assignment is your opportunity to get a running start on your semester project, a review of literature. The bibliography should consist of an alphabetical listing in APA format of every book and article you can find that addresses your proposal topic. Each reference should be accompanied by a brief paragraph that summarizes the book or article and its relevance to your specific topic.


Review of Literature, Research Questions or Hypotheses, and Methodology (300 points)


The major assignment in this course is the preparation of a review of the literature that pertains to a specific topic, your specific hypotheses and/or research questions, and a detailed description of the methods you would use to test the hypotheses or answer the research questions. We will discuss this extensively in class, and additional information is available on the class Blackboard Web site.




         Regular attendance is expected and necessary in this class. Please do not assume that you do not need to attend class when only lab, student presentations, or guest speakers are scheduled. I expect you there, armed with all necessary books and materials, and readiness to discuss the topic at hand. It is to your advantage to attend all classes, since test material will be drawn from in-class discussions, exercises, and lab assignments. You will lose points for missing class during the last two weeks of class.

         As a matter of courtesy and professionalism, set your beepers and cell phones to silent alerts during class time.

         You are responsible for all notes, handouts, and assigned readings. If you must miss a class, it is up to you to get notes and materials from fellow students. Develop a buddy system and exchange phone numbers!

         You must type and double space all work, unless you receive other instructions.

         You must turn in all assignments on time, at the beginning of class. No late assignments are accepted. Only severe medical problems are acceptable reasons for missing exams or assignments, and it is your responsibility to make immediate arrangements with me for make-up work. Computer problems and crashed disks are not valid reasons for late work. If a medical emergency arises, you must notify me in advance of the class and provide verification in order to be excused and scheduled for make-up work.

         See me immediately if you have any difficulties in this course. DO NOT wait a week or until the end of the semester to contact me with problems. I'm always happy to help you in any way I can, but any delay in communicating directly with me greatly reduces your chances of getting help.

         You must complete all course activities to earn a minimum grade of "D."

         You must earn a minimum of 600 points as described above to earn a minimum grade of "D."

         Any proven case of plagiarism or violation of ethical conduct will result in immediate failure of the class. In COMM 507, plagiarism includes but is not limited to: borrowing another person's ideas without acknowledgment; using paraphrased material without attribution; not citing quoted material; copying from any source and presenting the work as your own; downloading and using as your own any sentences, paragraphs, or entire documents off the Internet(including source code, scripts, graphics, or other Web elements); or using anyone else's assistance (other than the instructor or a lab TA) to fulfill course requirements.


The very best way to reach me is by e-mail. Don't forget that if you have any questions, I'm only a "Send Button" away!



Read the assigned chapter prior to each class meeting. Additional assignments will be announced.

Note: FBK denotes the Frey, Botan & Kreps text.




Assignments Due

18 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Course Introduction & Overview

Section I: Foundations of Comm. Research

Introduction to the Research Culture

Researcher Role Perspectives
Asking Questions about Communication

FBK Chapter 1 & 2


19 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Finding, Reading, & Using Research

Secondary Research: Using the Library

††††††††††† Interview Exercise

FBK Chapter 3


20 Nov
2:30-8:30 PM

Section II: Planning & Designing Comm. Research

Observing & Measuring Comm. Variables

Designing Valid Comm. Research
††††††††††† Professor Exercise

FBK Chapters 4 & 5


21 Nov
2:30-8:30 PM

Research Ethics & Politics

††††††††††† Field Notes/Data Log &
††††††††††† Observation Report

FBK Chapter 6


22 Nov



23 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Scholarly Article Reviews

Article Reports & Presentations Due

24 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Section III: Methodologies for Comm. Research

Experimental Research
Writing a Review of Literature

FBK Chapter 7

25 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Survey Research & Textual Analysis

FBK Chapters 8 & 9

Semester Paper Topics Due

26 Nov
7:00-10:00 PM

Historic & Naturalistic Inquiry

FBK Chapter 10


27 Nov
2:30-7:30 PM

Exercises in Qualitative Research

Section IV: Analyzing & Interpreting Quantitative Data

Describing Quantitative Data & Inferring from Data

FBK Chapters 11 & 12

Annotated Bibliography Due


28 Nov
2:30-7:30 PM

Analyzing Differences Between Groups & Analyzing Relationships Between Variables

Concluding Research

FBK Chapters 13, 14, & 15

6 Dec


Full Semester Paper Due



November 2, 2004