Chapter 1: Introduction to the Research Culture
A. We live in an “information society” with a wealth of information at our fingertips.
B. Information is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity on which we depend for survival.
1. The economy of the United States, once driven by agriculture and later by service, is now based on information.
C. Not all information is created equally; some information is better than other information because it has been tested and shown to be
valid; the key word here is “tested,” which means that some
has been conducted about it.
D. If we are to distinguish good from bad information, we need to become competent consumers of how information is produced.
1. Chapter goals
a. Explore the importance of knowing research methods.
b. Examine some common, everyday ways of knowing to distinguish these from the research process.
c. Explore some characteristics of the research culture.
d. Distinguish good research from pseudoresearch and bad research.
II. The Importance of Knowing Research Methods
A. We have become a “research-based” culture.
1. Research has become perhaps
most important stamp of approval in our society.
2. Research has become part of the ongoing business of doing business.
3. A United States Department of Labor report identifies “ability in information-acquiring and evaluating data” as one of the five
competencies necessary for performing most jobs.
4. Statements from people working in the real world (see Figure 1.1) show that the communication research methods course
they took in college was one of the most important—if not
most important—course they took in terms of being successful
in their profession.
5. Policy decisions made by community organizations, educational institutions, and federal, state, and local governments, to
name but a few, are now made, in part, on the basis of original research conducted and/or extensive reviews of what the
available research shows.
6. Understanding research methods might help one’s personal life; for example, being able to read and understand research
reports that compare products, such as those published in the magazine, Consumer Reports
, can help people make better
choices about the products they buy.
III. Making Claims and Offering Evidence
A. If there is one thing that researchers, common folk, politicians, educators, top-level corporate executives, snakeoil salespeople have in
common, it is that all make
, that is, assertions or conclusions.
1. Most claims are supported with some form of
, or reason.
2. The validity of a claim obviously is related, to a large degree, to the validity of the evidence in its favor.
a. The validity of the evidence offered depends to some extent on the situation.