Although humans have been thinking about and theorizing about media since antiquity, we have only recently – within the past century – begun to systematically, even scientifically, study the media. We now consider everything from the media’s role in society to its psychological “effects” on those who consume it; from the content of the messages it disseminates to the ideologies underlying its production and consumption. In this course we will look at the past, present, and future of media research: what do researchers think worthy of study, and what methods do they use to study it? We’ll ask ourselves similar questions: What, in our mediated environment, deserves study? What can and should we study, and why should anybody care? How can we match our own intellectual and creative interests to particular research subjects and methodologies? What does “research” mean in this digital age, this era of ubiquitous information? What tools can we use to study the media, and what kinds of information and knowledge can those tools yield? How do we determine the credibility of a source or generate our own data? Furthermore, how can we use the media themselves in the study of various social or psychological phenomena? And, conversely, how can we use research to help guide our media production? Our consideration of these questions throughout the semester will prepare us to create a grant proposal for either a media studies research project or a research-based media production project.

Who cares about grants?

Well, I should hope that you do! If you ever intend to embark a research or production project of your own -- one that won't be funded by your employer or some other commercial backer -- then you'll need to find your own sources of funding, which typically come in the form of grants. Grants are funding packages that are awarded by foundations, the government, cultural institutions, universities, and various other entities, to individuals or organizations (or to individuals who apply through an organization, which serves as a "fiscal sponsor") for a specific purpose – conducting research, covering image rights acquisition costs for a publication, starting up a new study center at a university, or making a documentary, for instance – over a specific period of time. Academics need to find grants to fund research for their publications. Videographers need to find funding for their research, materials, and travel. Not-for-profits need to find grants to support their operating costs. In fact, some individuals' and organizations' viability is completely dependent on grants.

You have to apply for this funding, there's a right and a wrong way to do it, and the competition is almost always stiff. So, it's a good idea to learn how to locate potential funders, write the proposal properly, and budget your time appropriately to increase your chances for success. If you’re new to the field, you may not be ready to submit your proposal at the end of the semester – you might want to wait until you have a bit more experience, or until you can put together a team of collaborators – but you’ll at least have had some valuable practice in grant-seeking and –writing.

Are you ready for Research Methods? Past students have advised me to inform all of my incoming students that this course – at least this particular section of Research Methods – is most beneficial for those students who have at least a general sense of their scholarly or creative research interests, and who have done at least a little reading or background work in their area of interest. Although I do encourage exploration, try to support you as you try out new ideas, and provide plenty of guidance along the way, this course is not the best place for you to begin surveying a field with which you’re entirely unfamiliar. You cannot reasonably expect yourself to compose a solid literature review, and eventually a complete grant proposal – both of which are requirements for this course – if you’re new to a particular area of study and unsure of how to navigate it. So, if you’re just beginning the program, or if you’re still trying to find your niche, you may want to wait a semester or two before taking the class.


Reading. You will be asked to secure your own copies of the following texts. You may purchase them from Barnes & Noble, but you are also free to find used copies online, or borrow them from a local library.

  • John Collier, Malcolm Collier & Edward T. Hall, Visual Anthropology: Photography As a Research Method (University of New Mexico Press, 1986). ($22)
  • Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002). ($25)
  • Gillian Rose, Visual Methodologies (London: Sage, 2001). ($32)

Please note that although each week’s reading list is rather lengthy, the list is composed of short excerpts from a variety of texts; the total number of pages you are asked to read each week is reasonable for a graduate class (i.e., typically no more than 100 pp./week). And remember to approach these texts as reference material, as how-to guides, as overviews of the field, as meta-texts on how to do research, rather than as original research or theoretical work.

The readings have been selected to provide a variety of  “directions of approach” to the history and practice of research. Jensen's Handbook is aptly named: it is just that -- a handbook -- and you should approach it as such. Look to Jensen's book to provide a compact history of media research, a succinct discussion of various methodologies (including their historical contexts, their underlying assumptions, their strengths and weaknesses, the research questions they're best equipped to answer, etc.) and their applications in real-world research. While Jensen's book is particularly useful in presenting the social scientific side of media research, Rose focuses more on media research methods that are derived from the humanities and art history. She pulls many of her examples from art history and the contemporary art world -- but I challenge you to determine how her approaches apply equally as well to the media. When, for instance, she applies compositional analysis to a painting, think about how you would apply the same method in analyzing a photograph or an advertisement. When she looks at the history and political economy of the art museum and art gallery, think about how you might apply her method of analysis to a study of the media industry or the commercial or art house movie theater. Finally, Collier & Collier look at media research from a completely different angle: instead of addressing research on the media, they look at research through the media -- specifically, how we can use media as research tools. These books will be supplemented with excerpts that have been drawn from approximately 15 other texts and compiled into a course reader, available in the File Sharing section of our course's portal site.

Some of these readings may appeal to you, and some may not. At the very least, skim those readings that seem to repeat what you already know or what you’ve already read; they may add some new tool to your research toolbox. Read purposefully; make the texts work for you. Practice a mixture of "interpreting" and "using" these texts (see Jensen, pp. 167; or see Eco's criticism of Rorty here [search for "rorty"]).

A note about Jensen:

Jensen's textbook often sets off historical information, examples, or what he calls "analyses" in text boxes separate from the body copy. You are encouraged to read these illustrative texts. In addition, he often highlights key concepts with a triangle, and refers you, via a footnote, to another chapter in the book for a more substantial discussion of the concept. Whether or not you are already familiar with the cross-referenced concepts, I encourage you to follow these links, as they highlight the relevance of these key ideas across different theoretical traditions, historical periods, and research methodologies.

Participation: 20%. I'm looking for a mixture of quality and quantity.

In lieu of a class meeting, we will be “meeting” – albeit rarely, if ever, simultaneously – on NSOU throughout the course session. Although there are no set meeting times, a new lesson will begin each Friday morning – which means that you are to have completed each week’s reading and written assignments by each Thursday at midnight. Why begin the week on Friday? Because I know that many of you have full weekday schedules, and that you have more time to attend to your coursework on the weekends. So, by giving you the weekend to dig into each new lesson and submit your first post of the week, we’ll hopefully have sufficient time to foster a lively discussion throughout the week – and we can avoid that Sunday night, last-minute posting flurry that plagues many online courses. 


I ask that each of you post to our NSOU site a minimum of two substantial comments each week (i.e., before the Thursday midnight deadline). By “substantial,” I mean synthetic (i.e., in that it reflects an attempt on your part to think “collectively” about all the texts assigned for each session), critical, analytic, and reasonably lengthy (i.e., at least 150 words). Please read – or, at the very least, skim – all of the other posts, and, if you choose, respond to others’ comments in your post. All discussion threads will be frozen at the close of each lesson, which makes late posting impossible.


Finally, the fact that our discussion interface looks a lot like an email or instant messenger interface does not entitle you to treat it as you would an email message box or an IM text box. In other words, please use complete sentences, correct grammar and punctuation, transitions between sentences and paragraphs – and, above all, critical reasoning. Failure to fulfill your posting requirement for more than one week will adversely affect your grade (by one letter grade for each missed week), and failure to post for three weeks may compromise your ability to pass the class.


All assignments in this course are designed to move you incrementally toward the final submission – a complete grant proposal.  Giving your full attention to each assignment, and then, when each is returned, taking my recommended revisions under consideration, will make your work at the end of the semester a whole lot easier.  This is not to say that the final grant proposal is simply a compilation of previous work, however; i.e., you can’t simply paste together Parts 1 through 5 to constitute Part 6. You will need to prune each section, expand on points that require further development, and work on transitions between sections so that the proposal works as a coherent “argument” for your project.

Submit all assignments to me via email at I prefer to use Word's "track changes" function to insert my comments directly into the body of your text, so, if you’re using .pdfs or some other format that won’t allow me to insert comments, please also be sure to send the text of your document as a Word/WordPerfect/TextEdit file.

Please note that there are TWO SUBMISSION DEADLINES for each assignment. The first deadline almost always falls on Fridays at noon, and the second on Saturdays at 5pm. Meeting the first deadline will ensure that your work will receive a close reading, thorough editorial comments, a careful critique, and recommendations for revision. Work submitted by the second deadline will still be considered “on time” and will be reviewed thoroughly, but will receive no comments – only a grade.  

Although it’s in your best interest to review the comments I offer on each of your assignments so that you can sharpen your critical thinking, develop your writing skills, and improve on future assignments, I realize that, despite however valuable my feedback might be, some students simply won’t spend the time to review it. If you’re one of those students, please don’t expect me to spend my time offering comments that will never be read; instead, take the extra day to work on your assignment (or procrastinate a little longer!), and submit your work by the Saturday deadline. Work will not be accepted after this second deadline.

Part 1: Intellectual Autobiography: 10%. Before you commit yourself to a research project, it’s a good idea to reflect on what brought you here, to graduate school, in order to better understand how your personal history shaped the paradigms and perspectives that you bring to media studies. At the same time, it is important to project yourself into the future, to ask yourself where you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now. In a three- to five-page double-spaced paper, consider the following questions: What are your intellectual and creative histories, and how have those intertwined histories led you to grad school? What intellectual or creative models have most profoundly impacted your development? Think about favorite authors, media creators, teachers, classes, schools of thought, etc. What are your intellectual and creative interests within the field? What media-related questions and problems excite you? What do you want to study, what would you like to learn, to enable you to follow those intellectual and creative interests? What theories, learning models, and modes of presentation (written, auditory, visual, etc.) do you feel most comfortable with? What contribution – intellectual, political, creative, etc. – do you want to make to the field?

Keep in mind that this is not a personal autobiography – that is, it is not intended to be a cathartic exercise, or to provide an opportunity for you to reflect on your emotional development, past relationships, or other similar personal life events. Rather, an intellectual autobiography is the history of your brain, of yourself as a thinking, creative being; as a student of media studies. Please include a complete bibliography (in either MLA or APA style) if appropriate.

Part 2: Topic Proposal: 10%. Submit three one-page double-spaced proposals (all compiled in a single document) identifying three possible research topics and the specific research questions you intend to answer, and justifying the relevance or significance (i.e., answer the so what? question) of these projects. You of course won’t know whether or not these questions have already been answered until you conduct your literature review, which takes place in Part 3.

These "research questions" needn't be something you would pursue in a scholarly research project, although they can be. You could also address these questions through a research-based production project, like a video documentary, an educational website or educational software, a radio program, a curriculum development project, or an after-school media literacy program.

Part 3: Literature Review: 15%. If you’re having trouble deciding between your three proposals, start out by survey the existing literature on each of your three potential research topics. This exercise will familiarize you with what research others have done on these topics, give you a sense of what your research might be able to contribute to the field – and help you to assess which project you would most enjoy pursuing. Ultimately, you’ll choose one of the three topics and prepare a thorough literature review for that topic. You must consult no fewer than 20 sources, in a variety of media (academic journals, books, popular periodicals, archival resources, multimedia resources, etc.), and distill their foci, methodologies, and conclusions in an eight- to ten-page double-spaced literature review. Focus on finding patterns and drawing conclusions instead of providing a laundry list of research projects. Your goal is to find the “holes,” the omissions in the literature or shortcomings in previous research, that your work promises to fill. We'll discuss the literature review in our lesson on "identifying topics and beginning research." For further guidance: 

Please use a style guide (either MLA or APA) and provide a complete bibliography. See "Citing Sources" from Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth's "Sources: Their Use and Acknowledgement." Your choice of the MLA (Modern Language Association), APA (American Psychological Association), or Chicago style guide depends on the standards in your field, how you see yourself (in the humanities or the social sciences), what community you want to be a part of, where you'd like to be published and what style guide they prefer, etc. I have not asked that you purchase a style guide for this course because, well, you should already have one. There are plenty online sources that provide basic citation information -- but the hard copies of these style guides provide editorial tips and other content that you'll want to have handy.

Part 4: Funding Sources and Publishing Venues: 10%. To be completed simultaneously with the Literature Review. Far too many novice researchers, when asked why they are pursuing a particular topic, respond with: “Because nobody else has ever done it before,” or “Because it seemed like fun!” Well, there may be a reason that nobody else has ever pursued a particular research project before (because it’s based on specious assumptions, or because it’s far too ambitious an undertaking, for example) – and “fun” isn’t sufficient justification for devoting time and money to a project. Particularly in the case of resource-heavy research and production projects, you must determine the availability of funding for a project like yours. You also need to ask yourself what you plan to do with the project once you’re finished. Who will publish your research report? Who will screen your film? What populations will use your educational DVD?

A real or virtual trip to the Foundation Center (for those of you in New York, stop by 79 Fifth Avenue, 212.620.4230; for those of you outside New York, visit their website and purchase a one-month membership for $9.95) will hopefully yield a list of potential funding sources. We'll tour the Center's website in our lesson on funding.

In addition, a review of periodicals listings and online databases (See the New School Library’s electronic resources – particularly Communication Abstracts and Communication and Mass Media Complete in the Periodical Databases) will enable you to develop a list of publications that may be interested in disseminating your research results. Or, if you’re doing a production project, a review of media screening venues or dissemination channels will tell you how to get your work “out there.” The number of appropriate funders, publications, or distributors will vary between projects, but you should attempt to identify at least three potential funding sources and three publications/venues; provide a summary of the funders’/publications’/venues’ criteria, list their contact info, and make note of any other information that would come in handy should you choose to submit proposals to these entities in the future.

Part 5: Methodological Explorations: 10%. Some research topics lend themselves to exploration through a variety of methodologies, and benefit from triangulation, while others seem to be suited for only particular qualitative or quantitative methods. Please propose a total of four methodologies, including both qualitative and quantitative, each detailed in a one-page double-spaced paper (and compiled in a single document), that would enable you to address your research question or the issues central to your creative/production project. Now, for some of you, quantitative methodologies might be completely inappropriate. Others might find that only one or two particular methods are well suited for their projects. Even if that's the case -- if you have a limited selection of methods to choose from -- I encourage you to still consider how you might approach your topic through four different methods or combinations of methods. One of our goals for this assignment is to make sure we've cast our nets widely and considered the variety of tools and techniques available to us.

Let's say you intend to use interviews, content analysis, and surveys for your project. You could write up one page for each of these three, explaining their advantages and disadvantages for your project, and a fourth page explaining how the three work well together, with each compensating for the others' deficiencies. Or, you might use each of your four pages to try out four different combinations of methods. Or, in the case that a particular methodology is inappropriate or insufficient, you can use this exercise to explain why it's inappropriate or insufficient. Why couldn't an experiment allow you to answer the questions you want to answer? Why wouldn't a survey yield the kind of responses you need? Why couldn't a content analysis provide the data you hope to collect? You can have fun with the assignment (Conducting a scientific experiment to assess paranoid schizophrenics' reactions to intolerably loud heavy metal music? Uh, can you say "ethics violation"?), but please be aware that the humor and absurdity of an inappropriate method can be conveyed only if you demonstrate a thorough understanding of both the methodology and your research topic and the reasons for their incongruity.

By this time in the semester I will have organized you into groups. I'd like for you to submit this assignment to me and to your group members for their feedback. I'll provide more information about groups later in the semester. Please provide a brief (just a few sentences) synopsis of your proposed project up front so those who aren't familiar with what you're up to will get a sense of what you're trying to accomplish with your proposed methods.

Part 6: The Proposal: 25%. Now it’s time to compile all the pieces to develop a complete grant proposal. Prepare your proposal in accordance with the guidelines identified here. The final proposal, totaling no more than 15 double-spaced pages, should include: (a) a summary; (b) qualifications of the researcher (hopefully, some of your intellectual autobiography will appear here); (c) problem statement or needs assessment (this is where you draw on your literature review; you scan the field and show where the "problems" or "needs" are); (d) program goals and objectives (this should flow from your literature review -- in other words, your review of what exists should make the case for your planned contribution); (e) methodology (drawing, of course, on your methods assignment); and (f) evaluation (How will you eventually evaluate the "success" of your project? By its being chosen for festivals or publication, for instance?).

Or, if you're using the course to prepare a proposal for a specific grant, and that funder requires a different format, you're free to adhere to that funder's guidelines -- as long as you send me, along with your proposal, an email or document briefly outlining what the funder requires.



I am always willing to speak with students about their work in the class and other academic matters. You’re welcome to visit me or, for those of you who are not in New York, make a “phone appointment” during my office hours, call me at my office number (be aware that I check my messages only during my office hours), or email me. But please use email judiciously! I say this because the volume of student email I receive has become unmanageable.

Consider the following:

  • Before you write me with a question, problem, or concern, make sure that you’ve exhausted all other means of figuring out the problem or dealing with the concern on your own. Ask a classmate, check the syllabus, or do a quick web search or some library research.
  • Consider whether the issue might be best addressed during an office hour phone conversation. For example, if you’re asking a multi-part question, or wanting to talk about something deep or complicated – like astrophysics, tax codes, or your professional goals – it’s probably best that we sit down and have a talk.
  • Please don’t write me with last-minute questions or urgent requests and expect an immediate response; keep in mind that your procrastination (although I’m aware that we’re all guilty of it) does not constitute my crisis.

Phew. Enough with that.


I imagine that most of you enrolled in this online class because of the flexibility it allows. You may of course log on, complete the readings, and submit the assignments at any time of the day or night. Yet in order to make sure that we’re progressing at a reasonable pace throughout the semester, and in order to allow yourself plenty of time to complete each of the assignments, and to give me plenty of time to evaluate those assignments, I have identified due dates for each reading and written assignment. On the schedule below, the dates associated with each week’s “unit” indicate the latest possible date by which you are to have read the assigned readings. Then, throughout the course of the week, we'll address those readings. I'll post weekly "lectures" and discussion prompts, and you'll need to visit the site at least two times during the week to (1) review the material I've posted and (2) participate in the discussion.

We'll begin the course with some historical context: we'll look at the history of media research to give you a sense of what topics have captured people's attention in the past, and what methods they've used in their research. Then we'll move on to more practical issues: helping you to identify your own interests and to begin the literature review and funding search that will build the foundation and define the boundaries of your project. And while you're figuring out what you want to investigate, we'll look at methods that may prove useful in that investigation. We'll begin with political economic analyses of the culture industries and historical research (which will introduce us to the use of archival sources), then move on to various critical approaches and the theories -- semiotics, rhetoric, discourse, genre, narrative, etc. -- that inform them. After that, we switch to methods that are commonly associated with the social sciences: qualitative methods including interviews, focus groups, case studies, and participant observation. Ethnography, which makes use of a variety of these methods, often involves the use of photography and video as research tools -- so, later in the course we turn our attention to research with or through the media. We close out the course by examining various quantitative methodologies, including surveys, content analysis, and experiments, and the statistics that inform quantitative data analysis. We've saved the quantitative methods until last not because they are any less important, less appropriate, or less frequently used than the critical approaches or qualitative methods -- but because these methods often require resources and skills that are beyond the scope of Masters-level work and would require that you seek resources outside the Department. Because you are much more likely to use the critical approaches and qualitative methods in your own projects (although you are not discouraged from using quantitative methods), I thought it best that we cover these methods earlier in the course, to give you plenty of time to work with them as you prepare your proposals.




Ask yourselves these questions: What does it mean to be a graduate student? What is graduate-level work? Why am I here, and where (and what) do I hope to be by the time I’ve completed my MA? Am I a scholar, a producer, an artist, a manager, or all of the above? What am I interested in? How can I use this class to help me answer these questions, and to take some big steps toward achieving the goals I’ve set for myself?

What Is Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and in the Hybrid Fields of Communication and Media Studies?

Graham Murdock, “Media, Culture and Modern Times: Social Science Investigations” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 40-61.

Klaus Bruhn Jensen, “Media Effects: Quantitative Traditions” and “Media Reception : Qualitative Traditions” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 138-70.

These same methods are applied outside the academy, too:

Klaus Bruhn Jensen, “Sectors of Research” and "Politics Versus Policy" In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 281-285.

Buffy Shutt, “Research and the Movies” In Brenda Laurel, Ed., Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003): 293-300.

Lecture: Surveying the Field

  • Review the syllabus.
  • Log in, introduce yourself, ask questions about the course, and discuss the first week's readings. Please post at least twice this week.
  • Complete readings for next class.
  • Begin work on your intellectual autobiography, which is due 2/10.  




Identifying Your Interests
The Research Question, Theories, Concepts & Hypotheses

Thomas R. Lindlof and Bryan C. Taylor, “Beginnings: Searching for a Research Idea,” “The Qualitative Research Process: An Overview,” “Sources of Research Ideas,” “Questioning Ourselves,” “Questioning the Scene” In Qualitative Communication Research Methods, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002): 63-85.

Colin Robson, “Ethical Considerations” In Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner Researchers, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1993): 65-76.

BJ Fogg, “Conceptual Designs: The Fastest Way to Capture and Share Your Idea” In Brenda Laurel, Ed., Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003): 201-211.

See also: "Proposing a Topic" by Daniel Chandler

Lecture: Identify Research Topics and Beginning the Literature Search, up to, but not including, "Research"


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next class.
  • Complete your intellectual autobiography. As you're writing it, think about which of your intellectual and creative interests could be pursued through your project for this class. Take a self-guided tour of the New School Library's website, and identify resources that are related to your intellectual and creative interests. Begin homing in on a particular project topic.


Intellectual Autobiographies Due 2/10 at Noon EST or 2/11 at 5pm EST

Begin with What’s Already There: The Literature Search

Cornell's Olin & Uris Libraries, "The Seven Steps of the Research Process"

Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff, “The ABC of Technique” and “Finding the Facts” In The Modern Researcher, 6th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thompson, 2004/1957): 15-66.

Axelrod & Cooper, “Online Research: How to Tell if Internet Resources Are Reliable” In A Writer’s Guidebook

Evaluating Information Found on the Internet,“ Johns Hopkins University Libraries

Evaluating Web Pages,” UC Berkeley

Lecture: Identify Research Topics and Beginning the Literature Search, from"Research" to the end


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next class.


Who’ll Pay for All This?: Finding Funding

No assigned reading for this week. You're responsible only for reviewing the posted lesson.

Lecture: Finding Funding


  • Post ONCE. This week's lesson will require that you work independently, for the most part.
  • Complete readings for next class.
  • Submit your three topic proposals by 2/24. Start scanning the literature on each of your proposed topics, and begin to home in on one of them.


Please download these readings now, and review them as time allows over the next several weeks. These texts address the proposal writing process and are intended to serve as reference materials to assist you as you write your proposals; use them as appropriate.

Research Writing

Colin Robson, “Writing a Project Proposal” In Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practitioner Researchers, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1993): 526-533.

Thomas R. Lindlof and Bryan C. Taylor, “The Research Proposal” Qualitative Communication Research Methods (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002): 85-90.

Thomas R. Lindlof and Bryan C. Taylor, “Authoring and Writing” Qualitative Communication Research Methods (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002): 279-312.

Common Logical Fallacies


WEEK OF FEBRUARY 24                                 

Topic Proposals Due 2/24 at Noon or 2/25 at 5pm

Researching Media Production, Institutions, and the Culture Industries
Historical Research

Horace Newcomb and Amanda Lotz, “The Production of Media Fiction” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 62-77.

Gaye Tuchman, “The Production of News” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 78-90.

Stig Hjarvard, “The Study of International News” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 91-7.

Lecture: Production & Culture Industry Research


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next class.
  • Select a topic and begin your library search for the literature review. Identify books that you'll need to access via Interlibrary Loan, and contact your local library now to make the necessary arrangements, since it may take a few weeks for ILL books to arrive.

Historical Research

Paddy Scannell, “History, Media and Communication” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 191-205.

Lecture: Historical Research


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next class.
  • Continue to work on your literature review.

Critical Approaches, Part I

Peter Larsen, “Mediated Fiction” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 117-37. (Disregard the section titled “Quantitative Content Analysis”).

Gillian Rose, “’The Good Eye’: Looking at Pictures Using Compositional Interpretation” and “Semiology: Laying Bare the Prejudices Beneath the Smooth Surface of the Beautiful” In Visual Methodologies (London: Sage, 2001): 33—53, 69-99.

Lecture: Critical Approaches


  • Post twice.
  • Work on your literature review and funding/distribution/venue list, which is due 3/31.



No Class: Spring Break!


No Lesson This Week


  • Complete your literature review and funding/distribution/venue list for submission on 3/31.
  • Complete readings for next week.


Lit Rev/Funding/Distrib/Venue List Due 3/31 at Noon or 4/1 at 5pm
Critical Approaches, Part II: Discourse Analysis

Gillian Rose, “Discourse Analysis I: Text, Intertextuality and Context” and “Discourse Analysis II: Institutions and Ways of Seeing” In Visual Methodologies (London: Sage, 2001): 135-86.

Lecture: Discourse Analysis


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next week.


Qualitative Methods: Case Studies, Participant Observation, Interviews, and…Games?

Klaus Bruhn Jensen, “The Qualitative Research Process” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 235-253.

Note that the sections on “Documents, Artefacts, and Unobtrusive Measures” (pp. 243-245) and “Discourse Analysis” (pp. 248-251) address issues we’ve already discussed; feel free to skim these sections.

Eric Zimmerman, “Play as Research: The Iterative Design Process” In Brenda Laurel, Ed., Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003): 176-184.

Lecture: Qualitative Methods


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next week.
  • Continue to research your topic and access sources you weren't able to access before the lit review due date.
  • Think about which methodologies are most appropriate for you to answer your research questions.



Media as Research Instruments

Media aren’t only research subjects; they’re also research tools. For the next two sessions, we’ll look at how media can be used as tools in conducting research in a variety of disciplines.

John Collier, Malcolm Collier & Edward T. Hall, Visual Anthropology: Photography As a Research Method (University of New Mexico Press, 1986). Chapter 19 optional.

Lecture: Media as Research Instruments


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings next week.
  • Continue to research and revise your lit review.
  • Work on Methodological Explorations, which are due 4/28.



More Media as Research Instruments

Sarah Pink, brief excerpt from “The Visual in Ethnography: Photography, Video, Cultures and Individuals” and “Video in Ethnographic Research” In Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research (London: Sage, 2001): 17-19, 77-93.

Tim Plowman, “Ethnography and Critical Design Practice” In Brenda Laurel, Ed., Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003): 30-8.

Rachel Strickland, “Spontaneous Cinema as Design Practice” In Brenda Laurel, Ed., Design Research: Methods and Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003): 118-128.


  • Post twice.
  • Complete readings for next lesson.
  • Submit Methodological Explorations to me and to your group members by April 28 @ noon.


Methodological Explorations Due 4/28 at Noon (No Second Deadline!)

This week we’ll be having a virtual workshop. Exchange your methods assignment with your group members via email (by 4/28 at noon), and then, throughout the week, offer constructive criticism on one another's proposals. You could communicate your recommended revisions through Word’s “track changes” format, through an email message that summarizes the proposal’s strengths and weaknesses, in an IM session – by whatever means works best for you. Please be sure to send me a transcript (compiled as a single document), before 5/4 @ 5pm, of your comments on your group members’ proposals. Then, in the next couple weeks, you can revise your methods plan in accordance with the recommended revisions.

WEEK OF MAY 5       

Quantitative Methods: Content Analysis, Surveys, Experiments

Barrie Gunter, “The Quantitative Research Process” In Jensen, Ed., A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies (New York: Routledge, 2002): 209-34.

Gillian Rose, “Content Analysis: Counting What You (Think You) See” In Visual Methodologies (London: Sage, 2001): 54-68.

Tools for Critically Analyzing Quantitative Data

Christopher Heffner, Statistics Primer

McGraw Hill Higher Education, Statistics Primer for Sociology

Lecture: Quantitative Methods


  • Post twice on this final lesson.
  • Finalize your proposal for submission on May 12.

MAY 12 Proposal Due Today at NOON (No Second Deadline!)

Please email your proposal to me as an attachment by NOON on Friday, 5/12. If you’re using .pdfs or some other format that won’t allow me to insert comments, please also be sure to send the text of your document as a Word/WordPerfect/TextEdit file so that I can type my comments directly into the document. Late work will not be accepted. Really. No kidding.