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Last updated January 29, 2000

HONORS:  COMMUNICATION CAPSTONE

COMMUNICATION RESOURCES



THEORY AND RESEARCH METHODS DEFINED!

Theory Defined

"A theory is a way of making sense of a disturbing situation" 

Kaplan (1964)
"Theories represent tentative solutions to problems."

A theory is a generalization about a phenomenon, an explanation of how or why something occurs.  Indeed, any statments that explain what is measured or described--any general statements about cause or effect--are theory based, at least implicitly.

A generalization about a phenomenon that explains how or why the phenomenon occurs."

Frey, Botan, Friedman, & Kreps (1991)


The power of a theory is its ability to connect events into a unifed web.

"What gives a theory its power is not the declarative statements it consists of but rather the relationship among those statements.  It is the form of the relationship among statements rather than the individual statements themesleves that distinguish between theory and description."

Hawes (1975)
Theory Defined. . .Again!

"A system of generalizable statements that are logically linked together to understand or predict human phenomena."

Kim (1995)
FUNCTIONS OF THEORY

To DESCRIBE, EXPLAIN, PREDICT, or CONTROL human phenomena in a variety of contexts.

RESEARCH METHODS Defined

"Research methods are the particular strategies researchers use to collect the evidence necessary for building and testing theories" 
 

Frey, Botan, Friedman, & Kreps (1991)
"Generally speaking, 

Behaviorists collect atomistic (small) quantitative (numerical) units of analysis (behavior) under controlled conditions (in a research laboratory). 

Phenomenologists typically collect holistic (meaningful) qualitative (symbolic) units of analysis (concepts) under naturalistic conditions (in the field)." 
 

Frey, Botan, Friedman, & Kreps (1991)
FOUR PRIMARY COMMUNICATION RESEARCH METHODS