CPT-25306 Research Methods for Communication Sciences


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. BC Mulder
RS Otte
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. P Macnaghten
dr. BC Mulder
dr. R Lie
RS Otte
Examiner(s)dr. BC Mulder

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN

Assumed knowledge on:

YRM-10306 Research Methods in the Social Sciences; YSS-10906 Analysis of a Problem Situation.

Continuation courses:

CPT-34806 Research for Effective Communication.


The course aims to provide an in-depth overview of various research methods that communication scientists may apply to study societal issues. During the course, students acquire research skills that are necessary for the independent conduct of research. The combination of methodological review, practical exercises and feedback enables critical reflection on the potential effects and limitations of various approaches to data collection and analysis, and on the relationship between theoretical perspectives, research problems and methodological choices. Specific attention is paid to 1. choosing research approaches and designs, based on the underlying research premises and the research question at hand; 2. applying various methods, techniques and tools for data collection; and 3. using subsequent procedures for data analysis and processing. Within these three skill areas the following approaches will be actively taught: quantitative, in particular the survey questionnaire method; qualitative, in particular doing interviews; and content analysis. Therefore, this course provides a mix of traditional and innovative methods, techniques and tools, applied in interdisciplinary communication research. Research skills are built through an active learning process consisting of exemplary cases of research practices, and supervised practicals (individual and group), including computer practicals to allow students to become acquainted with the practice of qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Finally, the group assignment focuses on acquiring skills to critically read, analyze and assess and report research methods of scientific studies.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe and critically assess a selection of relevant strategies and methodologies, with underlying epistemological and ontological premises, from qualitative and quantitative approaches in interdisciplinary communication research;
- describe, assess and select appropriate methods, techniques and tools for data collection in a life-science context.
This entails that students are expected to be able to:
- explain and interpret empirical scientific articles in terms of the problem statement, research question(s), research design and main outcomes;
- choose and defend the appropriate methods, techniques and tools for conducting interdisciplinary communication research;
- define appropriate units of analysis, samples and of information sources that are relevant for research;
- employ different research methods, techniques and tools (e.g., interviews, focus groups, survey questionnaires, experimental set-ups, observation and digital methods);
- collect and analyse data, using quantitative and qualitative modes of analysis.


The course employs different types of learning activities:
- literature study of textbook chapter(s) and scientific paper(s) in preparation of the lectures;
- problem-oriented case studies. Concrete research problems are used to illustrate how different research methods, techniques and tools could be used;
- practical exercises including computer analysis of datasets;
- group assignment: in small groups, students write a chapter each week, in weeks 2 - 5, in which the Methods section of a self-selected scientific paper is critically analysed.


- group work on a research problem related to communication in or about one of the life-science track domains of the BCW programme (30%);
- participation in computer practicals and other assignments (15%);
- written exam (55%).
To pass a minimum mark of 5.50 is needed in each component


To be announced.

Compulsory for: BCLCommunication and Life SciencesBSc1MO