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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Research Methods Communications
Module Code CM603
School School of Communications
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Jane Suiter
Semester 2: Jane Suiter
Autumn: Jane Suiter
Module TeachersJane Suiter
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Repeat the module
Assessment is largely on the basis of seminar preparation, attendance and discussion and thus, those who have not attended sufficient seminars or prepared sufficient reading reports cannot pass. Students must attend the module in its entirety in order to be reassessed.

What constitutes a "good" research question? How do we measure the concepts that interest us? This ten-credit modules gives an advanced introduction to the fundamentals of research and research design. It is suitable for those who have completed substantive research methods modules at level 9. It is seminar based and involves reading and contributing in advance of each seminar. It will examine key concepts in understanding the fundamentals of inquiry and research methods and on issues relating to the generalizability of results. These issues will be explored through the detailed reading of important studies. The second part of the course will consist of seminars on specific research methods relating to research in the School of Communications and will be delivered by subject matter experts. You will develop the knowledge to structure advanced PhD level research, prepare for the collection and analysis of research data; and discuss and critique research methodologies. The seminar will be held in half-day sessions monthly over the academic year.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand and apply the logic of scientific reasoning and inference
2. Evaluate the principal methodological designs in the study of communication.
3. Critically analyse existing research on the basis of the research methods employed.
4. Specify appropriate research questions and construct effective research design strategies to answer these questions.
5. Evaluate and critically assess qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods
6. Critique the application of research methods in existing studies using appropriate oral and written communication

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Independent Study200No Description
Seminars36No Description
Assignment Completion14No Description
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Seminar Structure
Six Seminars including The Fundamentals of Inquiry; The Fundamentals of Research Design; The Fundamentals of Praxis; Research Presentations; Participant and Case Selection; and Ethics are obligatory for all students. Students must then choose 2/3 of The Fundamentals of Interviewing; Undertaking Content Analysis and Ethnography/Virtual Ethnography.

The Fundamentals of Inquiry
What is scientific inquiry? How do we know what we know?

The Fundamentals of Research Design
How to design a research project and specifically consider the architecture of research design. This topic looks at the critical decisions to ensure all decisions are in line with the overall project characteristics and so methodologically justified. Oversimplified one-dimensional divisions e.g. between qualitative and quantitative design as opposites, between analysing words or numbers, drawing on big or small N etc. are addressed to introduce more constructive and flexible multidimensional distinctions than can be applied as guidelines in research practice

The Fundamentals of Praxis
In praxis research we think about theory in action. How do we justify the rationale for practice-based approaches, documenting (especially multi-part or disparate) artefacts.

Research Presentations
Opportunity for first presentations

Participant and Case Selection
What are the basic elements related to the selection of participants or cases that we need to consider?

The Fundamentals of Interviewing
Understanding and methodologically deciding and justifying the case for a wide variety of interviews in research, including Structured interviews; Semi-structured interviews; Unstructured interviews and Focus groups.

Undertaking Content Analysis
An introduction to the many various forms of content analysis we can undertake with texts, images and artifacts

Ethnography/Virtual Ethnography
The study of human (online) communication textual or multimedia

Research Ethics
What are our ethical and legal obligations as researchers, and how do we design research strategies where we need REC approval? This topic extends available training on Research Ethics in the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, to include procedures and planning for higher-risk contexts and best practices for multi-phased research stages involving human participants and/or their data.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reflective journalReadings will be assigned in advance of each seminar. These must be responded to in the form of a short critique, this must be at least a page and should not be longer than two and can contain comments, questions and thoughts about that week's readings. This must be published on Loop Reflect a day in advance of the seminar. Informed discussion in class is also a vital requisite for a pass grade.40%As required
PresentationStudents will design and present to the class a proposed piece of research; this should be quite narrow in focus and should be doable. Following each presentation a separate report will be due. The student can focus on their own research question or one of two options which will be given.20%Week 11
AssignmentEach student will submit a 12-15 page research design based on their presentation. This paper will describe the nature of the student's research problem, justifying its contribution to the discipline. It will detail the logic of the design in terms of how the chosen methods and methodological decisions address the research questions.40%Week 19
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Thomas S. Kuhn: 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions., University of Chicago Press., Chicago,
  • Michael Crotty: 1998, The foundations of social research,
  • Denzin, Norman K., and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds.: 2011, The Sage handbook of qualitative research., Sage,
  • Creswell, John W.: 2014, A concise introduction to mixed methods research. , 2014., SAGE publications,
  • Dexter, Lewis: 1996, Elite and specialized interviewing, ECPR Press,
  • Dewdney, Andrew, and Peter Ride: 201, The digital media handbook, Routledge,,
  • Quan-Haase, Anabel, and Luke Sloan: 2022, he SAGE handbook of social media research methods. Sage, 2022., Sage,
  • Bell, D.: 2019, Research in the Creative and Media Arts, Routledge,
  • Bryman, A: 2016, =Social Research Methods, Oxford,
  • Stewart, R,: 2006, Mindful Practice: Research and Interdisciplinary Dialogues in the Creative Industries, [https://eprints.usq.edu.au/5356/1/Stewart_InSEA_2006_AV.pdf](https://eprints.usq.edu.au/5356/1/Stewart_InSEA_2006_AV.p,
  • Hayes, Andrew F.: 2020, Statistical methods for communication science., Routledge,,
  • Lindlof, Thomas R., and Bryan C. Taylor.: 2017, Qualitative communication research methods., Sage publications,,
  • Brewer, J.: 2000, Ethnography., McGraw-Hill Education (UK).,
  • Davis, D. A.,& Craven, C: 2022, Feminist ethnography: Thinking through methodologies, challenges, and possibilities., Rowman & Littlefield.,
Other Resources

59341, website, Sage, 0, Research Methods, https://methods.sagepub.com/, 59349, website, Lisa Candy, 0, The work of Linda Candy in general is important for [Practice-based research , http://lindacandy.com/about-me/research/practice-based-research/,
Programme or List of Programmes
CSPMMaster of Arts

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