Chapter 3: Finding, Reading, and Using Research
A. Doing good research requires being able to get the information we need, when we need it, and being able to understand and use it.
1. Most readers of this textbook are probably already comfortable working on a computer, getting information off CD-ROMS or
though the Internet.
2. In fact, it’s not uncommon for readers like you to be much more at home in the age of electronic information than many of
your teachers or textbook authors.
3. Your comparatively greater skill in handling information is a result of being the first true generation of the Information Age.
B. We assume a certain familiarity with various popular sources of information, and focus attention on how the information needed for
good research differs from other kinds of information with which you are already familiar, as well as how to find, understand, and use this
II. Reasons for Reviewing Previous Research
A. Researchers don’t work in a vacuum.
1. Their research is a result of previous work on a topic.
2. Knowing what others have done and found helps to avoid “reinventing the wheel.”
a. This is true whether one is conducting scholarly research (public knowledge) or proprietary research (research
for a private company or organization; see Chapter 1).
B. Even those who don’t conduct research per se often need to know what the findings from relevant research show.
1. Before implementing a total quality management (TQM) program decision makers would want to see what the research
shows about the effects of TQM, or other programs like it, on such outcomes as worker satisfaction and productivity.
2. Competent consumers also find that reviewing relevant research proves quite helpful.
C. Regardless of the communication topic of interest, it’s likely that there is some relevant research that has been conducted in the past.
1. Even for brand new topics that have not been studied before, researchers still consult the literature, searching for sources
that can help them to understand the new topic.
D. Reviewing previous research is bound to shape a new study in a number of ways.
1. The purpose of one’s study may be affected.
2. Previous research invariably is used to provide support for, or shape, the formal research question or hypothesis posed.
3. As researchers review relevant literature, they also look at how those studies were conducted, gathering ideas for the
design of their own study.
4. Prior work, thus, provides the foundation on which researchers build.
5. Anyone interested in studying communication phenomena, whether as a producer or a consumer, should find out what has
already been done and learned about the topic(s) of interest.
III. The Search for Research