UMUC Communication Studies
COMM 480, Research Methods
COMM 480 TutorialThis tutorial provides students with a list of the key concepts that are considered by faculty to be essential 'take away's” from the COMM 480 class.
Part 1 of this tutorial covers three broad concepts: (a) UMUC's Institutional Review Board (IRB) and examples of approved IRB forms, (b) when students may contact people who are not classmates about research, and (c) using research terminology in student assignments. Part 2 of this tutorial provides a list of 20 research terms and suggestions for how to study them. Part 3 of this tutorial provides a selfgrading quiz for broad concepts and terminology. 
COMM 480 & COMM 495 STUDENTS WHO WANT TO CREATE SURVEYS
One of Communication Studies faculty has purchased a business membership at Survey Expressions. Up to 99 others may use this account. An account will be made available for students of COMM 480 and COMM 495 on a firstcomefirstserved basis.
To obtain one of these accounts, ask your teacher for the Survey Expressions Account Application. Your account will remain active until two weeks following the end of the semester. Make sure to take screen shots of your survey and to collect your data before then. If you need it to remain longer, you must contact the person whose name and email address are contained in the application form. 
PART 1: BROAD CONCEPTS
A. UMUC'S INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB)
All research universities must answer to university accreditation agencies, and UMUC is no exception. Our accreditation agency is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and this agency accredits over 500 schools in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Brain Track, 2013, Middle States)
UMUC's rules cover all research by UMUC students, faculty, and staff. No member of these groups may conduct research without knowing and following UMUC's rules. The rules are covered by the Human Subjects policy and notification and protection form:
Reference
BrainTrack (2013). Regional accreditation agencies. BrainTrack online at http://www.braintrack.com/collegeaccreditationarticles/articles/regionalaccreditingagencies
A. UMUC'S INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB)
All research universities must answer to university accreditation agencies, and UMUC is no exception. Our accreditation agency is the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and this agency accredits over 500 schools in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (Brain Track, 2013, Middle States)
UMUC's rules cover all research by UMUC students, faculty, and staff. No member of these groups may conduct research without knowing and following UMUC's rules. The rules are covered by the Human Subjects policy and notification and protection form:
 Policy 130.25  Conducting Research Involving Human Subjects
 Policy 130.26  Procedures for Completing the Research Project Notification and Human Subjects Protection Form
Reference
BrainTrack (2013). Regional accreditation agencies. BrainTrack online at http://www.braintrack.com/collegeaccreditationarticles/articles/regionalaccreditingagencies
Example IRB Forms
Information has been changed to protect the privacy of the students who authorized the CS Department to share examples of their work. Names of SMEs, organizations, and cities have been altered to protect the privacy of those involved and the students.
Example 1: Sam Student, Research type: Telephone Interview of SMEs
Example 2: Sally Student, Research type: Online Survey, Classmates
Example 3: Molly Student, Research Type: Email
B. WHEN CAN STUDENTS CONTACT PEOPLE ABOUT RESEARCH?
Students must not contact people about the student's research until they have an approved IRB form from their instructor. For example: Do not schedule Subject Expert interviews until you have your teacher's signed IRB form. Electronic signatures are acceptable. Teachers should put the approved form in PDF format. .
C. USING RESEARCH TERMINOLOGY IN ASSIGNMENTS
Except for the university's Institutional Review Board (IRB) human studies information and form, the remaining terminology items for this tutorial may be found in the COMM 480 textbook. Students who are using this tutorial without the benefit of the class and textbook may use their favorite search engine on the Internet to locate definitions and examples.
The terms listed, below, are ones that university graduates should be able to use correctly in a sentence. In addition, graduates should understand the scope and limitations implied by these terms.
Here is one example of knowing how to use terms in sentences **and** when it is just wrong to do so (COMM 480 terms are in bold italics and terms used incorrectly are in bold red):
CASE STUDY: A student creates a survey that is designed for a random sample of the target population, residents of the city, Newport News, Virginia. Because of Human Subjects rules, students may not actually sample Newport News residents, but they can use their classmates to beta test the survey, download results from the survey site, and run the measures of central tendency statistical formulas on the results. However, that is where the practical exercise ends. In the student's reports, the results are not presented as if this were a valid study. The next sentences are examples of wording of about this student's results in the student's report.
WRONG. My survey proves that residents of Newport News, VA, favor Twitter over Facebook.
NOTE. Only a carefully crafted study with a sufficient and randomized sample of the population can provide evidence in support of a concept. We do not prove things with our research because that has a statistical meaning that only those who are skilled with statistics understand. Until we study statistics and learn how to correctly use that verb, we do no use it.
WRONG. I randomly selected the following responses . . . .
NOTE. The term, random, has a mathematical meaning that is universally applied to any text covering research. That meaning is not the common meaning, “in no particular order.” A random selection requires the use of a randomizer in a spreadsheet or online to make selections. A random sample is one in which each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected, a process learned in beginning statistic classes.
WRONG. The results of my survey show that 87% favor Twitter over Facebook.
NOTE. Students learn in COMM 480 how to locate frequencies and percentages and to calculate the measures of central tendency including mean, median, and mode. Students should not report the results in terms of percentages because these results are not arising from a meaningful sample. These results have no statistical meaning. Without a meaningful sample to give the results meaning, any mathematical or statistical presentation is wrong and unethical (deceptive).
CORRECT. My survey was conducted online with 19 classmates serving as beta testers. Most of the beta testers (17) preferred Twitter over Facebook for quick updates and keeping track of friends and family; however, none of these beta testers live in Virginia so are not representative of the target population.
The terms listed, below, are ones that university graduates should be able to use correctly in a sentence. In addition, graduates should understand the scope and limitations implied by these terms.
Here is one example of knowing how to use terms in sentences **and** when it is just wrong to do so (COMM 480 terms are in bold italics and terms used incorrectly are in bold red):
CASE STUDY: A student creates a survey that is designed for a random sample of the target population, residents of the city, Newport News, Virginia. Because of Human Subjects rules, students may not actually sample Newport News residents, but they can use their classmates to beta test the survey, download results from the survey site, and run the measures of central tendency statistical formulas on the results. However, that is where the practical exercise ends. In the student's reports, the results are not presented as if this were a valid study. The next sentences are examples of wording of about this student's results in the student's report.
WRONG. My survey proves that residents of Newport News, VA, favor Twitter over Facebook.
NOTE. Only a carefully crafted study with a sufficient and randomized sample of the population can provide evidence in support of a concept. We do not prove things with our research because that has a statistical meaning that only those who are skilled with statistics understand. Until we study statistics and learn how to correctly use that verb, we do no use it.
WRONG. I randomly selected the following responses . . . .
NOTE. The term, random, has a mathematical meaning that is universally applied to any text covering research. That meaning is not the common meaning, “in no particular order.” A random selection requires the use of a randomizer in a spreadsheet or online to make selections. A random sample is one in which each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected, a process learned in beginning statistic classes.
WRONG. The results of my survey show that 87% favor Twitter over Facebook.
NOTE. Students learn in COMM 480 how to locate frequencies and percentages and to calculate the measures of central tendency including mean, median, and mode. Students should not report the results in terms of percentages because these results are not arising from a meaningful sample. These results have no statistical meaning. Without a meaningful sample to give the results meaning, any mathematical or statistical presentation is wrong and unethical (deceptive).
CORRECT. My survey was conducted online with 19 classmates serving as beta testers. Most of the beta testers (17) preferred Twitter over Facebook for quick updates and keeping track of friends and family; however, none of these beta testers live in Virginia so are not representative of the target population.
PART 2: RESEARCH METHODS GLOSSARY
COMM 480 students may expect to see any of these terms on exams. COMM 495 students are expected to understand the meaning and implications to their actions for all of these terms. This means that you need more than a vague, general idea of what these terms mean. You should be able to use them correctly in class discussions and in the written projects you produce for class.

PART 3 TESTING YOUR KNOWLEDGE
If you wish to take an online test of the research terms, contact Ida Rodgers. Ask your instructor if you need her contact information.
Some people find useful the opportunity to play with words that they are learning. Attached here is a word jumble with some research methods terms that you should know: COMM480_jumble.doc (Download and print to play).
Some people find useful the opportunity to play with words that they are learning. Attached here is a word jumble with some research methods terms that you should know: COMM480_jumble.doc (Download and print to play).
comm480_jumble.doc  
File Size:  7 kb 
File Type:  doc 