J642 Quantitative Methods

Winter 2018

Monday, Wednesday 4-5:50, 303 Allen Hall


309C Allen Hall 346-3750

Office hours: Wed 11-1, Thu 11-12, or by appointment, or stop by the office.

E-Mail: jrussial@uoregon.edu

Web page: http://jcomm.uoregon.edu/~jrussial/quant/

Beginning of the schedule
Jump to the middle of the schedule


Wimmer & Dominick, Mass Media Research, 8th ed, Wadsworth, 2006
I asked the bookstore to get the 8th or 9th edition, even though the 10th is the latest. There isn't that much difference; the 8th edition, the 9th edition or the 10th edition will work fine.

Other materials: Additional readings will be online or otherwise available. The class has a Canvas site.

Course overview

This class is designed to explore quantitative approaches to research methodology and to have students plan a research project using a quantitative approach. Much of the class will focus on issues in quantitative analysis, such as measurement, sampling, reliability, validity, research ethics, appropriate statistics and data analysis. We'll look at such questions as, What are the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative approaches? When are these methods appropriate and when aren't they? What issues must you address in designing a quantitative study? We'll focus most on content analysis and survey methods, the two most heavily used approaches in media research.

I would like this class to be both practical and analytical. It will involve analyzing and critiquing quantitative studies as well as developing skills in conducting such research.

A key goal of the class is to produce a research plan and a paper completed up to the point of data collection/results. In recent years, a number of students completed these projects in an advanced quantitative methods class in spring, and several led to conference presentations.
To reiterate, in this class you should develop:

Class sessions

Class meets twice a week. I lean more toward discussion than lecturing, and class participation is important. I like to raise questions as much as, if not more than, provide answers. I'll expect you to have completed the readings by the time of the class and to be able to show your mastery of them in discussion. Throughout the term, we will discuss and critique your research plans. Five class meetings will be data analysis workshop sessions. We will use SPSS, which is on the lab computers; It's also available on GTF office computers.


Required work will include short papers or article critiques due throughout the term, a longer research paper (mentioned above) and a data exercise. There will be a presentation of the longer paper in the last week of class.

Short (2-3 page) papers: Critiques of articles and/or answers to take-home questions. The short papers will be due about every two weeks after the first couple of weeks. Each short paper will have a due date. I'll accept late papers only in case of unavoidable circumstances, and I might require documentation of such circumstances. I've spent too much time in the media to wink at deadlines. Also, because I've spent most of my career as a copy editor or as a teacher of copy editing, I tend to think less of papers that are full of errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation. Make sure to proofread.

In-class critiques: Students will lead a brief class discussion on an assigned research article. We will do this in groups.

Data exercise: A graded exercise based on work using SPSS in the lab.

Final paper: My hope is that you will plan a final research project that you can eventually complete and possibly use as a conference paper. The paper required for this class will be a research report without the Results and Conclusion sections. In other words, it will have an Introduction, a Literature Review, a Methods section and dummy tables. To produce such a paper, you will need to be working on the idea throughout the term. Many of you will probably want to base your research proposal on the final paper you did in Theory 1. That's fine. Remember, though, that this is not the same paper. The final paper/proposal for this class needs to be structured like a research paper and will include a detailed methods section. We'll discuss this more in class.

CITI Certification: If you haven't already done so, you'll need to complete CITI training, which is required by the University of Oregon's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (Oregon's IRB). You'll need to turn in a copy of your completion notice by the beginning of week 6 (Feb. 12). There are links below under Week 1.

Attendance: It should go without saying, but attendance is expected, and a good participation/evaluation grade depends on it. If you are going to miss a class because of illness, or because of an emergency, let me know about it by e-mail or phone before the class. If the weather is bad enough that I need to cancel class, I'll let you know by e-mail. I'll use the Duckweb e-mail list on the roster. Here is the university's general information on weather cancellations.

Your overall grade will be based on the following formula:

Short papers, data exercises 30 %
Research paper (Graded throughout the term)50 %
Presentation/discussion10 %
Class participation/attendance/evaluation 10 %

My background

I consider myself both a scholar and a professional. As a professional, I spent most of my career working as a daily newspaper copy editor and copy chief. As a researcher, I examine some of the issues I observed in practice as a professional. I study newsroom technology and organizational change, primarily from sociological and management perspectives, with an underlying aim of examining and critiquing media performance and quality. Most of my published work has used quantitative analyses, including content analysis and survey methods.

Academic dishonesty

Portions of the work for this class may be done in teams or groups; most will be done as individuals. I will make it clear on each assignment what can be done in groups and what should be done as individuals. I expect you to follow accepted scholarly practice on citation of the work of others. There is no universal style rule for quantitative work--it tends to depend on the field, often on a given journal within a field, or even to which division you might submit a paper for an academic conference. Many journals ask for APA style; some want Chicago style. Occasionally, it's even a mix of styles. Newspaper Research Journal, for example, wants AP style in text and Chicago style in endnotes. I'd suggest using a style that's common in work that is similar to yours. Be consistent. Many reviewers look with disfavor on style inconsistency, as they do on poor writing in general.

Learning Environment

If you need to share information about sexual harassment, sexual violence or discrimination, you can find a list of individuals here. Each resource is clearly labeled as either "required reporter," "confidential UO employee," or "off-campus," to allow you to select your desired level of confidentiality.

Tentative schedule

Week 1: Jan. 8, 10 — Introduction

Types of Research, Research Procedures, Quantitative and Qualitative, Strengths and Weaknesses
Research Ethics

Wimmer & Dominick (8th ed.), Chapter 1 (The Research Process)
Chapter 3 (Research Ethics)
also p. 48-50 (section on Qualitative and Quantitative Research).
Also, Chapter 5 is a short summary of Qualitative approaches. If you plan to take Qualitative Methods in spring, forget about this chapter. (Note, if you use the 9th or the 10th edition, just look for the same chapters and sections.

Some research ethics links:

  • The university's Research Compliance Services web site for Research Involving Human Subjects.
  • The university's Human Subjects applications and forms and The Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI), an online training program that all UO researchers (faculty and students) who deal with human subjects have to have completed before Human Subjects' approval for a project can be given.
  • The university's requirement for human subjects compliance training. For SOJC students, the relevant course is Human Subjects Research for the Social-Behavioral Sciences.

    Here are a few links about the flap over a Facebook experiment conducted in 2012:
  • Did Facebook's Experiment Violate Ethics? A commentary on CNN.com about Facebook's controversial mood-manipulation experiment in 2012.
  • The article in question
  • An Editorial Expression of Concern About publication of the article by the Journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).
    Here's an interesting look at the Zimbardo prison experiment at Stanford 40 years later.

    Week 2: Jan. 17 — Measurement, Operationalizing

    Wimmer & Dominick (8th ed.) Chapter 2 (Elements of Research)

    Note: Monday, Jan. 15 is MLK Day, a university holiday

    Assignment, due Jan. 17 -- One-page topic idea for the final project. This should include a general statement of the research problem and a discussion of how it can be studied quantitatively. To do this, you'll need to begin discussing how you can operationalize the concepts you intend to study. This short paper should include a very brief discussion of the conceptual or theoretical framework for the problem. Here is a PDF of the assignment.

    A good primer on some research terms.
    Statistical terms--a primer for journalists From the Shorenstein Center

    Week 3: Jan. 22, 24 — Sampling, Reliability, Validity
    SPSS introduction
    Wimmer & Dominick, Chapter 4 (Sampling)

    Also, chapters 13-16 are summaries of research in communications fields using quantitative methods. Might be worth skimming to get an idea of the types of research that have been done.

    (All of these chapters are organized similarly in the 8th, 9th and 10th editions)
    SPSS session Wednesday, Jan. 24

    Zoch and Turk, "Women Making News: Gender as a Variable in Source Selection and Use" Journalism and Mass Comm Quarterly, Winter '98, 762-775.

    Becker, Beam & Russial, "Correlates of Daily Newspaper Performance in New England," Journalism Quarterly, 55 (1), 100-108.

    The methodology section of the Kaiser Foundation "Sex on TV" study— on the Web in PDF format. Note: This is the full report. We're looking at the Methodology section (p. 10-19).

    Assignment, due Jan. 24 --First short paper

    Here is a PDF of the assignment.

    Week 4: Jan. 29, 31 — Content Analysis

    Wimmer & Dominick, Chapter 6 (Content Analysis)

    Riffe, Aust, Lacy, "The Effectiveness of Random, Consecutive Day and Constructed Week Sampling in Newspaper Content Analysis, Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 70, No. 1, Spring '93, 133-139.

    (the article we will discuss in class and will use in lab--probably week 5 lab)
    Robert Entman, "Blacks in the News..." Journalism Quarterly, Summer '92, 341-361

    The following papers will be used for class discussion on Feb. 7:

    Sheehan and Doherty, "Re-Weaving the Web: Integrating Print and Online Communications," Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 2001

    Russial, "Topic Team Performance: A Content Study," Newspaper Research Journal, (1997) Winter/Spring, 126-144.

    Barger, "Moral Language in Newspaper Commentary: A Kohlbergian Analysis," Journal of Mass Media Ethics (2003), 18(1), 29-43

    Week 5: Feb. 5, 7; SPSS session, Content Analysis continued

    SPSS session, Monday, Feb. 5

    Wimmer & Dominick, Chapter 12 (Basic Statistical Procedures)--p. 294-298 on Chi Square Goodness of Fit
    This short section is 308-312 in the 9th edition; it's 315-319 in 10th edition

    Lacy et al., "Issues and Best Practices in Content Analysis," Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 2015, 92(4) 791-811.

    (If you want to start reading ahead, look at Wimmer & Dominick Chapters 10 and 11; much of these two chapters is relevant for content analysis or survey analysis.

    Discuss studies from previous week
    Here are an online Chi Square calculator and a Chi Square Tutorial from an online site. Here's a pretty good online statistics reference called Statsoft. The section"Basic Statistics" chapter has a good section on correlations, t-tests and cross tabs. Another section (see the index in the right frame) discusses ANOVA and related techniques.

    Here is a link to a Random Number Generator. Here's one for a tool called Recal, which makes it easy to compute different reliability coefficients. Here is one reference that helps in selecting statistical tests. Here is another one. Thanks to Toby Hopp for the last few references.

    Here are some other references:

  • Chi Square video Shows how it's calculated and provides an overview. The examples are single-variable, but the idea is the same for two variables (say independent and dependent).
  • Correlation and Simple Linear Regression A YouTube video--part of the SPSS Lecture Series. There are others as well in the series.
  • Another correlation reference
  • Hyperstat: See #9. Logic of hypothesis testing The rest of these are very good as well.
  • Statistics Every Writer Should Know Written by a journalist for journalists.

    Assignment, due Friday, Feb. 9--Introduction and beginning of Lit Review for final project. Four pages minimum. This should expand on the proposal. Introduce the issue and begin discussing relevant literature. Refer to at least three theory or research articles or chapters as sources. Hard copy should be in my Faculty Services mailbox by noon.

    Week 6: Feb. 12, 14 — Survey Research

    Wimmer & Dominick, Chapter 7 (Survey Research),
    Chapter 10 (Introduction to Statistics)
    Chapter 11 (Hypothesis Testing)
    Chapter 12 (Basic Statistical Procedures)

    Information on survey methods From the Pew Center for People and the Press.
    Survey Questions 101 From Qualtrics. The following papers will be used for class discussion on Feb. 21:

    Maxwell and Wanta, "Advertising Agencies Reduce Reliance on Newspaper Ads," Newspaper Research Journal, Spring 2001, (22, 2), 51-56

    Maier and Potter, "Public Journalism Through the Lens: How Television Broadcasters Covered Campaign '96," Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Spring 2001, 45(2), p. 320-334. (This study uses survey and content analysis methods.)

    Randal A. Beam, "What it Means to Be a Market-Oriented Newspaper," Newspaper Research Journal, Summer 1998 (19,3), p. 2-20.

    Curtin, Russial and Tefertiller, "Reviewers' Perceptions of the Peer Review Process in Journalism and Mass Communication," Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 2017, online, ahead of publication.

    Assignment, due Feb. 12--CITI Completion Report

    Assignment, due Feb. 16 (Friday by 3 p.m.)--Second short paper

    Here is a PDF of the assignment.

    Week 7: Feb. 19, 21 — Survey Research and Statistics Continued, SPSS session

    SPSS session, Monday, Feb. 19

    Discuss survey articles listed under Week 6

    Two-Way Analysis of Variance This video (actually a set of nine 5-minute videos) explains how to do a two-way ANOVA in SPSS. It's pretty long, but it does explain the procedure well. The following experimental method article will be discussed on Feb. 28:

    Kiambi and Shafer, "Corporate Crisis Communication: Examining the Interplay of Reputation and Crisis Response Strategies," Mass Communication and Society, 2015, 0: 1-22.

    Week 8: Feb. 26, 28 — SPSS session, Multivariate methods (in lab), Experimental Research, Longitudinal Research

    SPSS session, Monday, Feb. 26

    Wimmer & Dominick, Chapter 9 (Experimental Research)--focus more on this chapter than Chapter 8
    Chapter 8 (Longitudinal Research)

    A few references on statistical power and sample size:

  • Cohen, "A Power Primer," Psychological Bulletin, 1992, (112:1) 155-59.
  • Lenth, "Some Practical Guidelines for Effective Sample Size Determination," The American Statistician, (55:3), August 2001, 187-193.
  • Power and sample size calculator Lenth's applets. There is an interesting discussion about why he says Cohen's effect size calculations are not useful.
  • A Sample Size calculator This one is useful for studies that are similar to an election poll.

    Assignment, due Friday, March 2 at 3 p.m.-- Introduction, Lit Review and Methods section for final project.

    Week 9: March 5, March 7 — Critiquing research, Presenting and discussing

    SPSS session, Monday, March 6 (for data analysis exercises)

    Assignment, due Friday, March 9 at 3 p.m. Data analysis exercises
    The assignment is here

    The AEJMC's Research Committee offered a couple of good references for reviewing--Tips for Reviewing Conference Papers and one that offered suggestions for poster sessions and high-density sessions. Unfortunately, these two pages seem to have disappeared from the AEJMC web site, and I haven't been able to find them. If you know where they're hiding, let me know.
  • This page from the AEJMC Research Committee outlines criteria for paper competitions. Former AEJMC research chair Pat Curtin's tongue-in-cheek reference guide for paper disqualification.
  • Here's a page of links about academic reviewing. These come from a variety of fields.

    Week 10: March 12, 14 — Presentation and discussion of papers

    Assignment due Friday, March 16 -- Final project: Completed Introduction, Lit Review, Methods section and dummy charts for final project.