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Research Methods

Hans-Bernd Brosius


Alongside theories, research methods shape academic disciplines such as communication. Whereas theories determine the subject matter (i.e., the part of reality a discipline is looking at), methods determine how a discipline gathers information about its subject matter. Which methods are acceptable and how methods are applied is subject to an ongoing debate and communication process within a scientific community. The correct application of research methods ensures that scientific results (1) are collected systematically; (2) are independent of the scholar who collected them; and (3) can be replicated by other scholars. In other words, research methods increase the credibility of results, and hence improve their quality. This entry provides an overview of the methods being used in communication research. Scattered around the encyclopedia are some 80 entries on research methods. This overview entry will try to refer to most of them so that the reader can easily find more information on a given keyword. Besides the specific methods a vast body of literature provides interested readers with information on the theory of science and research focusing on the question of how we find evidence for our theories, whether we can eventually prove or falsify theories with the data collected, as well as how research depends on our conceptualization of science in general. Some of the most well-known ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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