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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $73.99

368 pp.
14 photos, 18 figures, 48 tables, and 36 exhibits, 8" x 10"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Communication Research Methods

Canadian Edition

Gerianne Merrigan, Carole L. Huston and Russell Johnston

Communication Research Methods introduces students to the what, why, and how of research in the field of communication studies. In accessible terms, the authors walk readers through the theoretical and practical aspects of a research project, from making claims about topics in need of investigation to designing valid methods for collecting and analyzing data to reporting findings. The research-as-argument model at the centre of this approach emphasizes the importance of proceeding from a claim to a conclusion in a logical and straightforward manner, with particular emphasis on behaving ethically at all stages of the process. Covering an array of quantitative and qualitative methods as well as Canadian research and regulation, this comprehensive guide gives students the tools they need to evaluate and pursue communication research in Canada.

Readership : Communication Research Methods, Canadian edition, is a core text for communication research methods courses offered by communications studies departments at universities across Canada. This course is taught at the second-year level and occasionally at the third-year level.


  • "This book is a very profound and sustained analysis of the current state of Canadian communication research. It is scholarly, current, and critical in a deeply philosophical way. It is also very inclusive of a full range of perspectives that are not traditionally connected very well to research."

    --Philip Savage, McMaster University

  • "The explanations are clear and thorough. . . . The text integrates a lot of examples of recent Canadian research."

    --Anne MacLennan, York University

Part I: The What and Why of Communication Research
1. Introduction to the Field of Communication
Communication and Cultural Theories
- Theory and Research Methods
- General Ways of Knowing
- Research as Argument
- Making Good Arguments
Audiences for Communication and Cultural Research
- Professional Associations
- Scholarly Journals and Academic Presses
- Trade Journals and the Popular Press
Two Manuscripts: Research Reports and Critical Essays
- Research Reports
- Critical Essays
2. Ethics and Research
A Brief History of Communication Ethics
Ethical Choices: Getting Started in Research
- Motives for Research Projects and Topics
- Rights and Responsibilities of Research Participants
- Reporting and Evaluating Research Ethically
3. Three Paradigms of Knowing
Methodological Ways of Knowing
- Knowing by Discovery
- Knowing by Interpretation
- Knowing by Criticism
Philosophical Bases of the Three Paradigms
- Discovery Paradigm
- Interpretive Paradigm
- Critical Paradigm
4. Making Claims
The Process of Making Claims
Definition of 'Claim'
Types of Claims
- Descriptive Claims
- Explanatory and Predictive Claims
- Interpretive Claims
- Evaluative and Reformist Claims
5. What Counts as Data?
Sources for Data Collection
- Texts
- Direct Observations
- Self-reports
- Other-reports
Settings for Data Collection
Strategies for Data Collection
- Selecting Data Sources
- Random Selection Methods
- Non-random Selection Methods
- Selection Methods for Critical Studies
- Capturing Observed Interactions
- Capturing Self-Reports and Other-Reports
Conceptual and Operational Definitions
Levels of Measurement
- Nominal Level
- Ordinal Level
- Interval Level
- Ratio Level
Research Design
- Changing Conceptions of Design
- Cross-Sectional Research Designs
- Longitudinal Research Designs
- Triangulation
6. Warrants for Research Arguments
Discovery Paradigm Warrants
- Scientific Values: Precision, Power, and Parsimony
- Form of Argument: Demonstrating Causality
- Reliability as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
- Validity as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
Interpretive Paradigm Warrants
- Interpretive Values: Subjectivity and Rich Description
- Form of Argument: Demonstrating Multiple Realities
- Researcher Credibility as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
- Plausible Interpretations as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
- Transferable Findings as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
Critical Paradigm Warrants
- Emancipatory Values: Voice and Liberation
- Form of Argument: Demonstrating Ideological Need for Change
- Coherence as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
- Researcher Positionality as a Standard for Evaluating Evidence
Three Views of Truth
- Discovery Paradigm
- Interpretive Paradigm
- Critical Paradigm
Part II: The How of Communication Research
7. Survey Research
Survey Research Claims
- Descriptive Claims
- Explanatory Claims
Survey Research Data
- Sources for Data Collection
- Settings for Data Collection
- Survey Research Design
- Data Sampling Strategies
- Capturing Self-reports and Other-reports
- Instrumentation and the Measurement of Survey Data
Survey Research Warrants
- Response Rates
- Establishing Valid Measurement
- Establishing Reliable Measurement
Ethical Issues in Survey Research
8. Content Analysis
Claims for Content Analysis
- Descriptive Claims
- Explanatory and Predictive Claims
Data for Content Analysis
- Messages, Manifest Content and Latent Content
- Selecting a Representative Sample of Messages
- Collecting Texts
- Coding Texts for Content Analysis
Content Data Analysis
Warrants for Content Analysis
- Intercoder Reliability
- Validity of the Coding Scheme
- External Validity
Ethical Issues in Content Analysis
9. Historical, Policy, and Case Analysis (NEW!)
Claims for Historical, Policy, and Case Analysis
- Descriptive and Interpretive Claims
- Explanatory Claims
- Evaluative and Reformist Claims
Data for Historical, Policy, and Case Analysis
- Sources of Data
- Locating Sources
- Strategies for Analysis
Warrants for Historical. Policy, and Case Analysis
- Audit Trails
- Representativeness and Adequacy
- Coherence
10. Conversation and Discourse Analysis
The Roots of Conversation and Discourse Analysis in Ethnomethodology
- Paradigm Affiliations
- Levels of Analysis
- Emphasis on Context in Analysis
Conversation Analytic Claims
- Turn Taking
- Adjacency Pairs
- Preference
- Repair
- Action Sequences
Discourse Analytic Claims
- Describing and Interpreting Interactional Performances
- Describing and Interpreting Social Practices and Entities
Conversation and Discourse Analytic Data
- Collecting Interactive Discourse
- Transcribing Interactive Discourse
- Collecting Narrative Discourse
- Determining the Unit of Analysis
- Analytic Induction
Conversation Analytic Warrants
- Transcription Veracity
- Detail Level
- Sample Representativeness
Discourse Analytic Warrants
- Researcher Credibility
- Plausible Interpretations
- Transferable Findings
11. Ethnographic Research
Ethnographic Claims
- Descriptive Claims
- Interpretative Claims
- Evaluative and Reformist Claims
Ethnographic Data
- Sources for Data Collection
- Strategies for Data Collection
- Strategies for Data Analysis
- Some Ethical Issues
Ethnographic Warrants
- Valuing Subjectivity and Rich Description
- Researcher Credibility
- Plausible Interpretations
- Transferable Findings
- Coherence and Researcher Positionality for Critical Research
12. Critical Studies
Critical Studies Claims
- Describing, Evaluating, and Reforming Social Structures
- Evaluating and Reinventing Discourse Processes
Evidence in Critical Studies
- Actions and Events
- Texts
- Researchers' Experiences and Beliefs
Analytic Moves in Critical Studies
- Dialectic Analyses
- Deconstruction
- Narrative Analyses
- Speech Act Analyses
Warrants for Critical Studies
- Establishing Coherence
- Establishing Researcher Positionality
Ethical Issues
13. Descriptive Statistics
Descriptive Statistical Analyses
- Sample Distribution Characteristics
- Visual Representations of Variables
- Measures of Shape
Inferential Statistics
- Three Types of Distributions
- Estimation and Inference
- Testing Hypotheses
- Some Ethical Issues
14. Inferential Statistics
Tests of Differneces
- Nonparametric Tests
- Parametric Tests
Tests of Relationships
- Measuring Covariance
- Measuring Causality
Two Ethical Issues

Instructor's Manual:
For each chapter:
Chapter outline
2-4 student activities
3-5 discussion questions
2-3 recommended readings
3-5 annotated recommended web links
Test Bank:
For each chapter:
15-20 multiple-choice questions
10-15 true-or-false questions
1-3 matching questions
8-10 fill-in-the-blank questions
3-6 long-answer questions
Answer keys for all questions with page references
Suggested answers for long-answer questions
PowerPoint Slides:
15-20 slides per chapter
Student Study Guide:
For each chapter:
Chapter summary
Learning objectives
Glossary of key terms with page references
10 multiple-choice questions
15 true-or-false questions
5 short-answer questions
Answer key for all questions with page references
3-10 recommended readings
3-10 recommended web links and/or online videos
E-Book (ISBN 9780199000098):
Available through CourseSmart.com

Gerianne Merrigan is professor and chair of communication studies at San Francisco State University.

Carole L. Huston is professor of communication studies and associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of San Diego.

Russell Johnston is an associate professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University. He is a well-known and respected communications scholar who has been teaching communications methods for more than ten years. His research explores the history of cultural industries in Canada, and he has documented the emergence of the modern advertising industry and related developments in the press, magazines, and radio. Among his publications are Selling Themselves: The Emergence of Canadian Advertising (UTP, 2001), and articles for the journals Media, Culture & Society; Mediascapes; Canadian Historical Review; Acadiensis; and International Journal of Heritage Studies.

Mass Communication in Canada - Rowland Lorimer, Mike Gasher and David Skinner
Dictionary of Media and Communication - James Watson and Anne Hill
Social Research Methods - Alan Bryman, Edward Bell and The late James J. Teevan
The Research Process - Gary D. Bouma, Rod Ling and Lori Wilkinson
Quantitative Research Methods for Communication - Jason S. Wrench, Candice Thomas-Maddox, Virginia Peck Richmond and James C. McCroskey
Researching Communications - David Deacon, Michael Pickering, Peter Golding and Graham Murdock
Researching Audiences - Kim Schroder, Kristen Drotner, Stephen Kline and Catherine Murray
Making Sense in the Social Sciences - Margot Northey, Lorne Tepperman and Patrizia Albanese

Special Features

  • Unique Canadian context. The only book of its kind to explore Canadian scholarship, research projects, and research ethics protocols that reflects the changing trends in communication research in this country.
  • Comprehensive. Covers all aspects of the research process and introduces a vast array of theories and methodologies, including quantitative, qualitative, and critical research methods, giving students an in-depth treatment of the subject.
  • Focus on communication. Explains methods using research drawn from various sub-fields in communication and cultural studies: organizational communication, media studies, film studies, digital culture, popular culture studies, and more.
  • 'Research-as-Argument' Model. This approach teaches students that research methodology is the process of making claims about communication and culture, and supporting those claims with evidence and reasoning, prompting them to think critically about methods.
  • Ethics coverage. A chapter on ethics (Ch 2), along with coverage throughout, emphasizes the importance of making claims, collecting evidence, and reporting studies responsibly and ethically to protect the integrity of the subject.
  • New chapter on historical, policy, and case analysis (Ch 9). New to the Canadian edition, this chapter offers more coverage of qualitative research methods with practical advice on examining specific individuals, artifacts, events, and trends.
  • Motivational approach. An inviting, accessible writing style makes research methods easy to understand and inspires students to start thinking about their own future projects.
  • 'Try It!' Activities. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt students to think critically about the material and to apply the theories and practices discussed to their own research.
  • Engaging pedagogy. Each chapter includes an outline, an introduction, bolded key terms, a summary, a list of key terms, and discussion questions to help students develop a solid grasp of the material.
  • Visually appealing. A clear, bright design with figures and photos throughout will enhance students' reading experience.
  • Extensive online resources. An online Study Guide encourages students to review what they have learned, while an Instructor's Manual, PowerPoint Slides, and a Test Bank provide helpful support for class lectures, activities, and assessments.