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Media and Communication Research Methods

Media and Communication Research Methods
An Introduction to Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches

Fourth Edition

October 2015 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Media and Communication Research Methods, Fourth Edition is a concise and practical text designed to give students a step-by-step introduction to conducting media and communication research. Offering real-world insights along with the author’s signature animated style, this text makes the discussion of complex qualitative and quantitative methods easy to comprehend.

Packed with detailed examples and practical exercises, the Fourth Edition of this bestselling introductory text includes a new chapter on discourse analysis; expanded discussion of social media, expanded coverage of the research process, and more. Ideal for undergraduate and graduate students conducting research for the first time, this accessible text will help students understand, practice, and master media and communication research.

Part I: Getting Started
Chapter 1: What Is Research?
We All Do Research, All the Time  
Scholarly Research Is Different From Everyday Research  
Cultural Studies and Research  
Nietzsche on Interpretation  
Problem of Certainty  
Diachronic and Synchronic Research  
The Way the Human Mind Works  
Overt and Covert Oppositions  
Thinking Fast and Slow  
Quantity and Quality in Media Research  
Media and Communication  
Why a Book That Teaches Both Methodologies?  
Considering Research Topics  
What Is Research? Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 2: The Research Process
Search Strategies  
Sources of Information  
How to Read Analytically  
Doing a Literature Review  
Primary and Secondary Research Sources  
Searching on the Internet or the Game of “Find the Info If You Can!”  
Analyzing Methodology in Research Articles  
The Research Process: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Part II: Methods of Textual Analysis
Chapter 3: Semiotic Analysis
Saussure’s Division of Signs Into Signifiers and Signifieds  
Semiotics of Blondeness  
Semiotics and Society  
Peirce’s Trichotomy: Icon, Index, and Symbol  
Allied Concepts  
Clotaire Rapaille on Culture Codes  
Semiotics in Society: A Reprise  
Syntagmatic Analysis of Texts  
Paradigmatic Analysis of Texts  
Skyfall: A Paradigmatic Analysis  
Applications of Semiotic Theory  
Paul Ekman on Facial Expression  
Semiotics: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 4: Rhetorical Analysis
Aristotle on Rhetoric  
Rhetoric and the Mass Media  
A Brief Note on the Communication Process  
Certeau on Subversions by Readers and Viewers  
Applied Rhetorical Analysis  
A Miniglossary of Common Rhetorical Devices  
Other Considerations When Making Rhetorical Analyses  
A Sample Rhetorical Analysis: A Sea to Skin Advertisement  
Rhetorical Analysis of the Visual Image  
Images in Narrative Texts  
Rhetorical Analysis: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 5: Ideological Criticism
Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia  
Defining Ideology  
Marxist Criticism  
Roland Barthes on Mythologies  
The Problem of Hegemony  
The Base and the Superstructure, False Consciousness, and the “Self-Made Man and Woman”  
Post-Soviet Marxist Criticism  
Basic Ideas in Marxist Criticism  
A Marxist Interpretation of the Fidji “Snake” Advertisement  
John Berger on Glamour  
Identity Politics  
Feminist Criticism of Media and Communication  
The Social Conception of Knowledge  
Phallocentric Theory: The Physical Basis of Male Domination  
Political Cultures, the Media, and Communication  
Pop Cultural and Media Preferences of the Four Political Cultures  
Marxist Perspectives on Social Media  
A Preview of Critical Discourse Analysis  
Ideological Criticism: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 6: Psychoanalytic Criticism
Freud’s Contribution  
Cell Phones and the Psyche: Applying the Theories of Erik Erikson  
Neuropsychoanalysis: Freud and Neuroscience  
Jungian Theory  
Psychoanalytic Criticism: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Part III: Qualitative Research Methods
Chapter 7: Discourse Analysis
Defining Discourse Analysis  
Teun A. Van Dijk on Discourse Analysis  
Spoken and Written Discourse  
Styles and Written Discourse  
Political Ideology and Discourse Analysis  
Critical Discourse Analysis  
Advertising and Critical Discourse Analysis  
Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis  
A Multimodal Critical Discourse Analysis of an Advertisement  
Further Reading  
Chapter 8: Interviews
The Prisoner Interviews Number Two  
What Is an Interview?  
Four Kinds of Research Interviews  
Why We Use Interviews  
How to Interview People  
Questions Investigative Reporters Ask  
The Structure of Conversations and Interviews  
Transcribing Tapes  
Making Sense of Transcribed Interviews  
Problems With Interview Material  
Interviews: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 9: Historical Analysis
What Is History?  
History as Metadiscipline or Specialized Subject  
Is History Objective, Subjective, or a Combination of the Two?  
Kinds of Historical Research  
The Problem of Writing History  
The Problem of Meaning  
Historical Periods  
Baudrillard and Jameson on Postmodernism  
Postmodernism and Historiography  
The Historical and the Comparative Approach  
History Is an Art, Not a Science  
Doing Historical Research  
Historical Analysis: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 10: Ethnomethodological Research
Defining Ethnomethodology  
Boxed Insert on Ethnomethodology by Dirk Vom Lehn  
Garfinkel’s Ingenious and Mischievous Research  
Using Ethnomethodology in Media and Communication Research  
Metaphors and Motivation  
Love Is a Game  
Humorists as Code Violators  
Techniques of Humor  
Ethnomethodology and the Communication Process  
Ethnomethodological Research: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 11: Participant Observation
Defining Participant Observation  
Significant Considerations When Doing Participant Observation  
A Case Study of Participant Observation: Readers of Romance Novels  
Problems With Participant Observation  
Benefits of Participant Observation Studies  
Making Sense of Your Findings  
An Ethical Dilemma  
Ethics and Research Involving Humans  
Participant Observation: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Part IV: Quantitative Research Methods
Chapter 12: Content Analysis
Defining Content Analysis  
Why We Make Content Analyses  
Methodological Aspects of Content Analysis  
Aspects of Violence  
Advantages of Content Analysis as a Research Method  
Difficulties in Making Content Analyses  
Content Analysis Step by Step  
Content Analysis: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 13: Surveys
Defining Surveys  
Kinds of Surveys: Descriptive and Analytic  
The VALS Typology Survey  
Methods of Data Collection  
Advantages of Survey Research  
Problems With Surveys  
Surveys and the 2012 Presidential Election  
A Note on Media Usage Surveys: Shares and Ratings  
Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Survey Questions  
Writing Survey Questions  
Making Pilot Studies to Pretest Surveys  
Conducting Online Surveys  
Obtaining Random Samples  
Evaluating Survey Accuracy  
Surveys: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 14: Experiments
Everyday Experimentation  
Defining Experiments  
The Structure of an Experiment  
The Hawthorne Effect  
Advantages of Experiments  
Disadvantages of Experiments  
The “Black Rats” Case and Experimental Fraud  
A Checklist on Experimental Design  
What’s an Experiment and What Isn’t?  
Experiments: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Chapter 15: A Primer on Descriptive Statistics with Felianka Kaftandjieva
Levels of Measurement  
Descriptive Statistics  
Measures of Central Tendency  
Measures of Dispersion  
The Normal or Bell-Shaped Curve  
The Problems With Ratings  
A Cautionary Note on Statistics  
Statistics and Comparisons  
Data on Media Use in America  
The Problem of Interpretation  
Statistics: Applications and Exercises  
Further Reading  
Part V: Putting It All Together
Chapter 16: Nineteen Common Thinking Errors
Common Fallacies  
Further Reading  
Chapter 17: Writing Research Reports
Keeping a Journal  
A Trick for Organizing Reports  
Outlines, First Drafts, and Revisions  
Writing Research Reports  
The IMRD Structure of Quantitative Research Reports  
Writing Correctly: Avoiding Some Common Problems  
Academic Writing Styles  
A Checklist for Planning Research and Writing Reports  
Further Reading  

The level was too difficult for the group of learners .

Mrs Angela gelder
Teacher Training, Rotherham College of Arts & Technology
September 8, 2016

Accessible and broad in scope, with great examples throughout

Dr Kyle Meikle
Lang Lit Comm Design Div, University Of Baltimore
April 15, 2016

Also an essential read for honours students in the field of communication, particularly those in my class.

Ms Chilombo Chichi Mbenga
Communications , North West University, Mafikeng Campus
January 20, 2016

good overview and intro to the approaches, very much recommended especially for BA students or students new to the field

Professor Xenia Zeiler
Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki
October 19, 2015
Key features


  • A new chapter on discourse analysis creates a higher awareness for examining or deconstructing the underlying meanings in speech and other forms of communication.      
  • An expanded discussion of social media sheds new light on the impact research methods can make in social networking such as the recent debate around the ethics of the Facebook experiments.  
  • An expanded discussion of analyzing research articles offers students search strategies and best practices for analyzing research articles as well as an abbreviated APA style sheet.
  • Updated statistics, references, and bibliographies provide students with fresh and contemporary coverage of research methods within media and communication.     


  • Comprehensiveness: From opening discussions on the nature of research to thorough treatment of the methods of textual analysis, qualitative and quantitative methods, and writing up research, breadth of coverage is the hallmark of this text.
  • Humor: Chapter-opening conversations with the author’s “Grand Inquisitor” (who poses questions about the nature of research), numerous cartoons, and references to student life use lively humor to make the material approachable and accessible.
  • Applications and exercises: In each methods chapter, applications and exercises allow students to practice and apply what they’ve learned.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 15

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