Research Theories and Models

Research Theories and Models

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 1

Imagine you are given the task of designing two research projects, each requiring extensive use of statistics. One of the questions will involve using descriptive statistics (such as regression, or factor analysis, principle components analysis), and the other question will employ statistics appropriate to an experiment (e.g., ANOVA, ANCOVA, MANOVA, MANCOVA).

  • Design these two studies. Cover all of these points for each study.
  • Identify what is the research question in each study: in both plain English (“This study is about…”) and in hypothesis form. (e.g., “There is no statistical difference between…“)
  • What statistical methods would you use to address the research question?
  • Why did you select the methods you propose rather than some other methods?
  • What assumptions are implicit in the statistical methods you propose to use?
  • What are some logical interpretations and conclusions that could be made from the studies, given the statistics you used (in other words, the statistical procedures you chose must be able to support the interpretations/conclusions you think are likely).

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 2

You’ve looked at many of the major models of advertising: social judgment, ELCM, multi-attribute model, hierarchy model and so on. Do you see dimensions of similarity in all or most of these models? What is it? How do the models diverge from each other?

Now take a single model or a model you’ve put together from these. (Be sure and explain it to me.) Talk about how it would apply to news processing as well as the processing of advertising.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 3

Choose any mass communication theory you wish and state a specific research question (or several related questions), which will serve as the context for this exam question. The question must be central to the theory you chose. Within the context of that theory and research question(s) consider two studies, each of which examines your question(s). One study must be a survey; the other must be a controlled experiment. The primary requirement of the survey is that it must be a single cross-section, random sample. The primary requirement of the experiment is that it must be at least a 2×2 design, with one factor being between-subjects and the other being within-subjects. Also, one of the dependent variables for the experiment is a reaction-time task. It could be an RT to index memory or judgment, or a secondary-task RT to index attention. Briefly describe each study, and be sure to explain how each methodology addresses the one question that you chose.

Your main task is to compare and contrast each methodology with respect to its respective threats to validity. Exactly and specifically how does the survey method inform your research question? How does the experiment inform your question? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each method in the context of your research question? Be sure to discuss the constraints and opportunities of each on both a conceptual level and an operational level, where appropriate.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 4

The excellence model of public relations and the contingency theory of public relations each offer insights into the strategic management of communication. Review each approach, covering strengths and weaknesses of each and possibly doing a comparison and contrast. In light of this review, please then consider the applicability of the two-way symmetrical model to health communication theory and practice. Provide an example related to cancer or tobacco use prevention, and offer a brief overview of how these theories would inform a program of research for you in the next several years.

  • If you were a consultant hired to evaluate and improve the communication effectiveness of a county health department, what dimensions of communication would you consider, and what measures of effectiveness would you apply? What different publics are served by the department? Apply your understanding of communication theory to consider the elements of message, the communicator and culture.
  • Is the department in the business of providing objective information to its publics or pursuing an integrated marketing communication strategy? What gives the department the moral authority to make value judgments concerning marketing communications?
  • How would you structure and staff to achieve communications effectiveness consistent with the goals of the health department? What knowledge and skills would you want represented on the staff?

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 5

Over the years there has been a great deal of discussion, argument, and counter-argument regarding two research traditions: quantitative and qualitative methods. Please provide a brief overview of the two traditions, comparing and contrasting the qualitative and quantitative methods of mass communication research. Begin by discussing the philosophical traditions and theoretical underpinnings of these two broad approaches to epistemology.

Consider the relative strengths of each tradition and develop your position concerning the use of either approach in general. Then please discuss particular methods that you find either interesting or valuable in your own work (e.g. focus groups, participant observation, information processing experiments, surveys and the like). For each method, discuss its strengths and weaknesses and how you address each in planning and conducting your work.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 6

The study of the way people process information and the study of mass communication intersect in a good deal of individual-level media effects research. In order for this research to make psychological sense, scholars examine the relationship between message attributes and psychological responses. One fundamental psychological concept in this research is “attention.” Attention is generally thought to be a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for effective message processing. One message type you are interested in is broadcast news. Explain how attention has been conceptualized and operationalized in prior research about effects of TV news on viewers. Distinguish between attention as “selection” and “mental effort,” both in how they are conceptualized and in how they are measured. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each conceptual and each operational definition? What are the implications of each conceptualization on the effects of TV news? The “effects” you discuss should encompass the 3 major types of effects normally examined: affective, cognitive and behavioral.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 7

This question refers to organizations in general.

  • Discuss some of the major innovation diffusion theories, as they apply in the case of technology, specifically digital technology. How are organizations changed by technology diffusion, and in which ways does this affect the people, their relationships, power structures and the rules within the organization? Also include the external environment of the organization in your analysis.
  • Now analyze these same questions, but focus specifically on the news media.
  • In your opinion, can digital media (e.g., Web-based news portals) and traditional media (e.g., paper versions of the news) survive side-by-side in the long run? What implications will this have in terms of the organizational structure of a news organization? Justify your answer.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 8

At a chance meeting, you run into an old acquaintance you haven’t seen for 20 years. “So let me get this straight,” she says. “You traveled to Missouri to get a PhD, which makes you an expert in health communication and its driving forces. Perhaps you can explain something to me about mass communication. How has the internet changed what we learned about mass communication theory back in the day?” “Wow,” you say. “That might take a couple of hours.” “That’s OK, I’ve got that much time. And, I really want to hear you elaborate on this from a theoretical perspective.”

You say:

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 9

Describe how a limited capacity model of attention would account for motivated attention, learning from mass media messages, dealing with audio and visual inputs, and message valence.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 10

What is the impact of photos in news, whether print or broadcast? Approach this question theoretically first, and then apply empirical research to answering it.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 11

This part refers to organizations in general.

  • Discuss some of the major innovation diffusion theories, as they apply in the case of technology, specifically digital technology. How are organizations changed by technology diffusion, and in which ways does this affect the people, their relationships, power structures and the rules within the organization. Also include the external environment of the organization in your analysis.
  • Now analyze these same questions, but focus specifically on the news media.
  • In your opinion, can digital media (e.g., Web-based news portals) and traditional media (e.g., paper versions of the news) survive side-by-side, in the long run? What implications will this have in terms of the organizational structure of a news organization? Justify your answer.

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 12

The social amplification of risk theory asserts that cultural and political understandings and events will shape both public and policy makers’ understandings of the possible policy options identified with specific “risky” issues.

Select two current issues in science/medicine/health that you believe can demonstrate how the process of social amplification of risk process works. For each issue, describe how you believe the process has worked and the impact SAR has had on policy makers and the public. Be specific about the role of political communication, construed broadly, in that process. Evaluate the impact of SAR against the range of options presented in the realm of “science” and “risk assessment.”
Based on these two examples, critique the SAR theory. What additional understandings should be incorporated into the theory to make it more robust and empirically testable?

Research Theories and Models: Sample Question 13

Choose and briefly describe a theory that involves psychological phenomenon and mass communication. (It doesn’t have to be a theory native to mass comm.) In describing the theory, you should consider the concepts, the propositions that link the concepts and an example of prior research that tested the theory. You are permitted to include a diagram of the theory if you wish.

Your primary task is to design a single experimental study that scientifically tests one or more aspects of the theory. Include specific hypotheses and/or research questions that you think your design tests. In describing your design, consider the following issues:

  • Definitions of concepts.
  • Operational definitions (be specific, include units and levels of measurement).
  • Study design.
  • Study method(s).
  • Study procedures (e.g., protocol, assignment to treatment, what participants will do, etc.).

The minimum requirements for the study include:

  • At least 2 manipulated IVs.
  • At least 1 cognitive DVs.
  • At least 1 affective DV.
  • There must be at least 1 within-subjects factor.

After your thorough description of your methods, specify the following:

  • Clearly identify how you create message variance and treatment variance.
  • How you would analyze the data in order to test the hypotheses/RQs that you generated.
  • Consider issues of multiple tests, power and effect size.
  • How your design controls alternative explanations for any observed findings.
  • How your design handles the sensitization threat to validity.