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by OneClass252515 , Winter 2014
22 Pages
Winter 2014

Communication Studies
Course Code
COMM 2102
Ira Wagman

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Qualitative Research
- interested in answering the “why” questions
Why do people do this? Etc.
Communication research started with the quantitative approach  borrowing things from other
social sciences (studying human behaviour)
Features of Qualitative Research
Inductive relationship between theory and research
going through process of conducting research before connecting it to the literature/theory
connect to theoretical positions that exist and expand
Interpretivist epistemology
see the world from the subjects point of view
rather than using a process that is generalized to a large group of people
how individuals create meaning
Ex: talk to individuals, interview, investigate everything that is produced by the individual
(analyzing text, speech, media production, art, etc.)
Constructionist ontology
emphasis on words vs. numbers
emphasis on “shining intense light” on a subject vs. generalization to a population
researcher plays a role in the research
how the individual creates meaning from the social forces – how we understand our sense of
identity, culture, religion, etc.
Main Preoccupations of Qualitative Researchers
seeing through the eyes of those studied
description and emphasis on context
emphasis on social process
flexibility and limited structure
- not many preconceived notions
- researcher analyses text without a preconceived structure
- try to figure out the different meanings within the text
concepts and theory emerge from the data
Research Methods Used in Qualitative Research
textual analysis
- ex: newspaper
ethnography/participation observation
- prolonged immersion in the field
- understand human behaviour by immersing ourselves in the context we’re trying to understand
- in depth, semi, or unstructured
- individual or focus groups
Main Steps In Qualitative Research
1) general research question(s)
2) selecting relevant site(s) and subject(s)
3) collection of relevant data
4) interpretation of data
5) conceptual and theoretical work
5a) tighter specification of research questions
5b) collection of further data
Concepts in Qualitative Research
Definitive Concepts (quantitative research)
measures and indicators
common features of phenomena
imposes theory on social world
Sensitizing Concepts (qualitative research)
general sense of reference and guidance

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2014­01­13 Qualitative Research ­ interested in answering the “why” questions  ▯Why do people do this? Etc.  Communication research started with the quantitative approach  ▯borrowing things from other  social sciences (studying human behaviour)  Features of Qualitative Research Inductive relationship between theory and research  ▯going through process of conducting research before connecting it to the literature/theory  ▯connect to theoretical positions that exist and expand Interpretivist epistemology  ▯see the world from the subject’s point of view   ▯rather than using a process that is generalized to a large group of people   ▯how individuals create meaning  Ex: talk to individuals, interview, investigate everything that is produced by the individual  (analyzing text, speech, media production, art, etc.)  Constructionist ontology  ▯emphasis on words vs. numbers  ▯emphasis on “shining intense light” on a subject vs. generalization to a population  ▯researcher plays a role in the research  ▯how the individual creates meaning from the social forces – how we understand our sense of  identity, culture, religion, etc.  Main Preoccupations of Qualitative Researchers  ▯seeing through the eyes of those studied  ▯description and emphasis on context  ▯emphasis on social process  ▯flexibility and limited structure  ­ not many preconceived notions  ­ researcher analyses text without a preconceived structure  ­ try to figure out the different meanings within the text   ▯concepts and theory emerge from the data  Research Methods Used in Qualitative Research  ▯textual analysis  ­ ex: newspaper   ▯ethnography/participation observation ­ prolonged immersion in the field ­ understand human behaviour by immersing ourselves in the context we’re trying to understand   ▯interviewing ­ in depth, semi, or unstructured ­ individual or focus groups  Main Steps In Qualitative Research 1) general research question(s) 2) selecting relevant site(s) and subject(s) 3) collection of relevant data 4) interpretation of data 5) conceptual and theoretical work  ▯5a) tighter specification of research questions  ▯5b) collection of further data  Concepts in Qualitative Research Definitive Concepts (quantitative research)  ▯measures and indicators  ▯common features of phenomena  ▯imposes theory on social world  Sensitizing Concepts (qualitative research)  ▯general sense of reference and guidance  ▯discovery of varied forms of phenomena  ▯broad concept gradually narrowed down  Reliability, Validity and Objectivity  1) Adapting concepts from quantitative research  ▯ reliability, validity, replicability, objectivity  Reliability  ▯external – replication  ▯internal – inter observer consistency  Validity   ▯internal – good fit between data and theory   ▯external – generalization  2) Alternative criteria – Trustworthiness  ▯ authenticity, portability, precision, impartiality  Authenticity   ▯external validity – how authentic are these in the real world  Portability  ▯go from research to making assessments of the real world  Precision   ▯describe research in a detailed way Impartiality  ▯how has researcher removed themselves from the research  Criticisms of Qualitative Research Too Subjective  ▯researcher decides what to focus on  ▯one person deciding everything  Difficult to Replicate  ▯unstructured format Problems of Generalization  ▯samples not ‘representative” of all cases Lack of Transparency ­ often unclear what researcher actually did  Contrasting Qualitative and Quantitative Quantitative:                                                            Qualitative: ­numbers                                                                 ­ words ­ researcher’s view                                                   ­ participants view ­ distance                                                                ­ proximity ­ theory testing                                                        ­ theory emergent ­ static                                                                    ­ process ­ structured                                                             ­ unstructured ­ hard, reliable data                                                  ­ rich, deep data ­ behaviour                                                              ­ meaning  Breaking Down the Divide  ▯distinction between quantitative and qualitative research remains useful  ▯no necessary connection between epistemological/ontological commitments and research  methods  ▯tendencies rather than absolute determinism  ▯research methods are more ‘free floating” than has been presumed  Problems with the Quantitative/Qualitative Contrast  ▯exaggerated differences between the two research strategies Based on contrasting dualities: 1) behaviour vs. meaning 2) theory and concepts as emergent vs. per formulated 3) numbers vs. words 4) artificial vs. natural  2014­02­03 Writing Up Content Analysis  Journal Report Format ­ introduction  ▯** give broad social relevance  ▯how is it relevant to communications? ­ methodology ­ results ­ discussion ­ conclusion  APA Style generally: Title page: ­ Include page headers and page number, beginning with the title page ­ Type the running head in all caps  ▯flush left ­ Centre the title, name of authors (us), name of course and lab section  First page: ­ header present with page number ­ give full title at the beginning of the body  ▯centered ­ each section should have a heading centered (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion)  2014­02­03 ­ indent paragraphs, 1 inch margins, double space text  Tables: ­ number each table  ▯give each table a descriptive title  ▯begin the title flush left in  italics  ­ you an use horizontal lines but not vertical  ­ single or double spaced ­ each column should have a descriptive heading ­ first letter of the heading should be capitalized  Methods: ­ describe how the research was conducted ­ include a description of what your sampling method was ­ describe your unit of analysis ­ discuss how inter­coder reliability was achieved ­ (can mention if you were using sources at the beginning and then found them to not be helpful ▯   reasons for switching to different source types, etc.)  Results: ­ report the findings of the study ­ include any tables or figures you feel are relevant to the project  Discussion: 2014­02­03 ­ interpret findings ­ what does this mean in relation to your research question? ­ include your conclusions, what further research is indicated, what are the limitations of your  research? 2014­02­24 Ethnography II When is ethnography appropriate?  Research question dictates the type of method  If the RQ requires an in­depth understanding of the social context ethnography is an important  method  Allows an understanding of social reality from a participants perspective  Becoming an ethnographer  Research question as a general guide Access to the setting – open/closed  Gatekeepers – key informants and sponsors  Role  Complete observer  Observer as participant  Participant as observer  Complete participant  Incorporation into a setting: Relationships and roles  Mascots, apprentices and dancing daughters  Sex  Violence  2014­02­24 Incorporation into a setting is a matter of negotiation between the members and the researcher  How to gather data  Data collection and analysis should proceed 
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