Research Methods and the New Media

Research Methods and the New Media

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The "new media" -- interactive videodiscs, telecommunications, computers, VCRs, teletext systems, and more -- present researchers with new challenges when it comes to studying practical applications or theoretical effects. This valuable volume aids researchers in first recognizing the special qualities of interactivity, demassification, and asynchroneity that the new media have created and to instruct professional researchers and students in alternative research methods, multiple methods, and the triangulation of results. For the first time, a variety of methods are examined as they apply to new media research, including mathematical modeling, controlled experiments, quasiexperiments, surveys, longitudinal studies, field studies, archival and secondary research, futures research and forecasting, content analysis, case studies, and focus groups.
Whether the problem to be researched is as focused as considering the cost-benefit for a school wishing to adopt computers in the classroom or as wide-ranging as determining the effects of video games on child socialization, this up-to-date and thorough guide alerts researchers to the pitfalls of traditional methodology and offers a firm foundation upon which they can build reliable, accurate projects able to produce sound results.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 228 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 340.19g
  • The Free Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0029353319
  • 9780029353318

Table of contents



PART I. Perspectives on Research on the New Media

1. Distinctions in the Study of New Media

The New Media

New Media -- Components and Combinations



New Service Applications

Special Qualities of New Media

Three Dimensions

Some Distinctions of New Media Research

The Research Challenge


2 Trends in the Study of New Media

The Influence of Communication Media on Research

The Media and Research Traditions

The Sequence of Media

Children and Media

Communication Theories and Media

The Direction of Communication Research

Paths Not Taken

Communication Policy Analysis

Expanding the Study of Media Technologies


3. Choosing among Alternative Research Designs

Conflicts Over Research Methods

Conventional Approaches

Mathematical Modeling

Controlled Experiments



Longitudinal Studies

Field Studies

Archival and Secondary Resarch

Futures Research and Forecasting

Content Analysis

Case Studies

Focus Groups

Assumptions and Criticisms of Conventional and Positivist Approaches

Alternative to Conventional Research Methods and Designs

Sources and Rationales

Interpretive Approach


Action Research

Criteria for Choosing Among Designs and Methods

A Triangulation Example in the Study of Word Processing



PART II. Problems and Solutions for Research

4. Validity, Reliability, and Sampling

Requirements of Research Designs

A Case Study of Teletext Research

Elements of Research Design




Studying the New Media Over Time

Need for a Temporal Perspective

Choices in Over-time Research

Problems in Studying New Media Over Time



5. Adoption of New Media

The Importance of Interactivity

What Is the Diffusion Paradigm?

The Critical Mass in the Adoption of Interactive Media

Adoption of Computer-Mediated Communication Systems

Implications of the Critical Mass Concept for Research Methods

Forecasting the Diffusion of New Media

An Emphasis on Prediction

The Failure of Videodisc Players

Centers of Forecasting Research

How Accurate Are Forecasts?

How Is the Rate of Adoption Forecast?

Why Are Certain Forecasting Methods More Accurate?

Can 2 Million French People Be Wrong?


6. Using Computer-Monitored Data

Automating Data Collection

Characteristics of Computer-Monitored Data

Advantages for Validity and Reliability

Comparing Computer-Monitored Data to Self-Report Data

Research Uses of Computer-Monitored Data

Monitoring and Initiating

Types of Data and Research Design Elements

An Example Showing a Combination of Uses

Retesting the Erie County Study with Computer-Monitored Surveys

Merging Computer-Monitored Data with Questionnaire Data

Data Combinations


Merging the Data



7. Strategies for Studying Cases

Why Do a Case Study?

What Defines a Case Study?

Microcomputers in the Schools: A Case Study Example

Background and Problem



General Steps for Designing a Case Study

1. Specify the Need for a Case Study

2. Define the Unit of Analysis

3. Plan Data-Gathering and Analyses

4. Carry Out the Research Plan


8. Implementing Formative Evaluation

A "Developmental" Approach

Characteristics of Formative Evaluation


Evaluation as a Research Focus

Formative as Against Summative Evaluation

Practical Benefits

Uses with New Media

Steps in Formative Evaluation

1. Define Objectives

2. Select the Scope of the Research

3. Select Data-Gathering Methods

4. Analyze Results and Provide Feedback

Formative Evaluation as Mass Communications Research


9. Evaluating Costs and Benefits

Return on Investment

Methods for Costs Analyses

Types of Analyses

Applications to New Media

Major Steps in a Cost Analysis

1. Define the Problem

2. Select the Analysis Method

3. Gather Data

4. Conduct Analysis and Draw Conclusions

Beyond Cost Analyses


10. Measuring Productivity

Going Beyond Costs and Benefits

Productivity as Efficiency Ratios

Basic Production Ratios

Ratios of Revenues Relative to Personnel or Technology

Return-on-Investment Ratios

Ratios Relative to Value Added

More on the Value-Added Concept

Examples of Productivity Analyses

Basic Cost-Benefit Analysis

Value Added

Capital-Labor Trade-off

New Media as Strategic Investment

Selecting Options

Gaining Competitive Advantage


PART III. New Considerations

11. New Theoretical Approaches

The Need for New Theory

The Networks and New Media

Network Paradigm, Data, Measures, and Methods

Influence of Networks on Adoption of Computer Systems

Interaction and Involvement

The Nature of Interactivity

Psychological Involvement and Interactive Videodiscs

Social Involvement and Parasocial Interaction


12. Issues of Ethics and Ideology

Human Costs and Benfits

Research with Human Subjects


The Belmont Report

Institutional General Assurance

Practical Notes

Privacy as an Example of an Ethical Issue

Making Private Information Public

Personal PrivacyProtecting Privacy in Research

Equity as an Example of an Ethical Issue


Appendix: On-line Data-base Services


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About Frederick Williams

Frederick Williams is Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Professor at the Center for Research on Communication, Technology & Society of the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of The New Communications, among other books.
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