Communication Studies Notes

Communication studies Research Step one Determine what you wish to investigate, Gather the information through investigation, Pull data from this investigation, Data is specific and leads to the answer sought in research. Research * A systematic process of gathering /collecting and analyzing data and information. * A systematic and organized way to find answers (10 questions). * A process by which we find answers to questions. * Investigation to gain information. * General information. Characteristics of research * Always originate with a question, problem or hypothesis * Always requires a clear articulation of a goal. Always follows a specific plan or procedure. * Usually divides the principal problem into more manageable sub problems. * Always guided by the specific research problem, question or hypothesis. * Accepts certain critical assumptions which are theories of ideas about how the world works. * Always require the collection and interpretation of data in attempting to resolve the problem that inflated the research. Data Data can refer to facts, figures, numbers, text, sounds, images that are obtained from experiments, observations. Data is used as the basis for making calculations or drawing conclusions.

Data can be considered the primary source of information. Information Information one is knowledge which is acquired or supplied about something or someone. Information two is the collected or gathered facts about a specific subject. Information three is the result or processing, gathering, manipulating and/or organizing data in a way that adds to the knowledge of the receiver. Information four can include written or spoken communication, photographs, art and music. Information can also be described as data that has been meaningfully organized. Data is mere facts that are independent in nature and unlimited in number.

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Information is the result of arranging data into meaningful knowledge. Types of research: * Primary. Primary research: that which is original, that which the researcher designs carries out using surveys and/or focus groups. * Secondary. Secondary research: this depends on accessing information that has already been researched and can be found in books, other publications and expert sources. Types of primary research: * Qualitative Qualitative research: This is widely used, it is based on information findings taken form observation, interviewing and form tracing patterns of behavior .

It helps us understand how people feel and why the feel as they do . It is in-depth in nature as one collects a significant amount of information or data, samples tend to ne smaller and the duration of research is often longer than quantitative. Two examples are: Historical research: the study of past events. Ethnographical research: the study of current events through the collection of extensive narrative data in a naturalistic setting . Case studies are used normally. * Quantitative Quantitative research: * This is widespread and requires the use if surveys to feed the statistical analysis. Requires a wide sample and the researcher is not likely to have contact with the participants in the research. Two examples are: Descriptive research : involves the collection of data in order to answer a question about current status about a subject or situation . it is  concerned with the preferences ,attitudes ,practices ,concerns or interests of some group of people . Co relational research: seeks to establish a relationship or lack thereof between two variables or to use relationships to make predictions. Instrument: This refers to the methodology used to collect data .

There are various instruments and it is important to select the one best suited to the type of research you are doing. Population: This refers to the group of individuals, items or events that the researcher wants to study . The sample is the section of the population that is viable to work with. The sample selected must be a representation of the larger group form which they are selected. Examples of primary sources: * Diaries * Interviews * Letters * Works of literature * Photographs * Autobiographies * Original works of arts Examples of secondary sources: * Biographies Dissertations * Indexes * Abstracts * Films / documentaries * Journal / articles * Monograph Reliability The extent to which your sources can be trusted to provide true and accurate information. Validity This refers to the soundness of the research that has been undertaken. There are two types of validity: * Internal Validity – relates to whether there are flaws in the design of the research or method of data collection. * External Validity – looks at whether your findings can apply or be generalized to a larger group or other situations. Data Collection Source

This is the method for collecting data such as surveys, focus group discussions, observations and interviews. Data Collection Instrument The physical tool used to collect the data such as checklists, clients or students record cards, questionnaires or class registers. Readily available data * Files * Computer databases * Government reports * Statistical data * Documents such as budgets, maps, policies and procedures * Expert judgment; where the experts are persons with areas of expertise, diverse perspectives and political viewpoints. Data Collection Methods

Methods are instruments or tools that are used to investigate and to discover what you need to know in order to help you with research. There are two main types: * Qualitative Approaches – an emphasis on processes and meanings that are not rigorously examined or measured in terms of quantity, amount, intensity or frequency. Qualitative researchers stress the socially constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied and the situation constraints that shape inquiry. * Quantitative Approaches – emphasize the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables and not processes.

Categories of Methods * Interviews – different types of interviews provide different types of data: – In-depth informal interview – Structured interview – Scripted interview Some interviews can be structured like a questionnaire or an informal discussion or conducted with individuals/groups. Interviews can be done in one session or it can be done over a series of interviews. * Questionnaires – can be sent out by post, they can be done face to face, by telephone or via the internet. All of these factors can influence the outcome of the interviews and the usefulness of the exercise. Observations – an observer and participant relationship. However issues of confidentiality and ethical behavior can be problematic. * Journals – observer and participant diaries/journals can produce interesting qualitative information over a period of time. * Case Studies – detailed information about a particular subject or small group. The qualitative information received allows for conclusions to be drawn only about that subject or small group and only in that specific context. * Secondary Sources of Data – previous research reports can form the basis of a new and updated research project. Experiments or Scientific Research – these are not used often in social scientific research as they are based on natural scientific methods. However it is possible to combine and mix different research methods for different parts of the project. Strengths and Weaknesses of Research Methods Direct Observation This is direct or participant methods by which a person/s are able to gather first hand data on a subject being studied. Strengths * Able to gather objective data * Addition of observer’s insights * Provide direct information about behavior of individuals/groups * Direct contact with sources Exists mostly in natural, unstructured and flexible environment * Can develop a holistic perspective * Invites open discussion * The data is likely to be carefully recorded Weaknesses * Potential to misinterpret observations * Time consuming/timing variations would affect results * Difficult to carry out because persons may become suspicious of an observer * The observer’s presence may cause bias * It may be expensive * Display of a typical behavior from subjects being studied * The observer can become distracted and lose focus Focus groups This is a combination of elements from both interviews and participant information.

It is normally 8-12 persons who come together to discuss a selected topic that is relevant to the research being done. Strengths * More accurate information because members may fear contradictions * Group synergy enables members to share without being intimidated * Low cost and quick to initiate * Greater pool of expertise is tapped Weaknesses * Data is difficult to analyze * Need careful training * Groups vary and can be difficult to assemble * One or more participants may dominate the views. Interviews This is different data from observations as they allow the interviewer to capture different perspectives.

Strengths * Greater depths of information that is rich in data, details and new insights * Allows extensive probing and open ended questions * Permits face to face contacts with respondents * There are more personnel that questionnaires * Interviewer can note non verbal behavior * There is generally a higher response rate Weaknesses * Subjectivity * Required trained interviewers * Expensive and time consuming * Interviewer may distort information because of selective perception * Does not allow for anonymity * Responses are not always honest * Errors may be made in recording answers Questionnaires Strengths A wide variety of responses can be gathered * It can be easily administered * It is relatively inexpensive depending on the sampling size * It guarantees anonymity Weaknesses * Low rate of return * Difficult to clarify ambiguous responses * Responses are not always honest * Ineffective if respondents are not literate Scientific Testing Strengths * More accurate * More reliable * Findings would be objective Weaknesses * Results may vary depending on time chosen * Sampling size may be too small * Hypothesis can be wrong * Human error * May not be cost effective How a questionnaire may be administered * Face to face Telephone * Mail * Email * Website * Tele-video conferencing Errors which may affect the validity of research * Timing of data collection * Restricted collection * Bias or select sampling * Sample size too small Errors which may affect the validity of questionnaires * Restricted location * Small spread * Use of special interest groups Errors which may affect the validity or your research * Results cannot be generalized * Location will not be representative of the entire community * Results obtained may vary Why research findings cannot be generalized * Limited sample * Limited location * Instrument bias or limitation

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