VisCom Methods

VisCom Research Methods Readings

I recommend reading these books, including my own, as a primary resource for understanding the methods of doing research in visual communication.

Kenney, Keith (2009). Visual Communication Research Designs. NY: Routledge.

Visual Communication Research Designs provides a step-by-step guide for designing research involving visuals relevant to communications media. This volume explains the process from conceptualization to research questions, instrumentation, analysis, and reliability and validity checks. Visual Communication Research DesignsIt also addresses the lack of sufficient methods to answer theoretical questions attending visual communication. This resource has been developed in response to the circumstance in which, in many cases, the methodologies used for verbal and textual communications are inappropriate or ineffective when applied or adapted for the study of visual communications. Additionally, research articles from ethnography, action research, rhetoric, semiotics, psychology, cultural studies, and critical theory often do not use examples appropriate to visual communication readers. To address these issues, this book explains in clear and straightforward language key research designs, including new methodologies, that are appropriate for scholars and students conducting visual communication research.

Click here for a review. And here. And another here.
Click here for an article citing this book.

Buy the book here.

Additional VisCom Methods readings

Creswell, John W. (1998). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Traditions. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

I really like this book because it helps you to decide which type of qualitative research design you might wish to use. Creswell continually compares five options: biographical life history, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, and case study. His comparisons include philosophical and theoretical frameworks, problem statements, data collection, analysis, writing the report, and standards of quality. This is a good starting place. Amazon reviewers really like the book. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Questioning Qualitative Inquiry: Critical Essays. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

If you’re doing quantitative research, you don’t need to defend research designs such as experiments, surveys, and content analysis. Nor do you need to defend a legal, historical, or rhetorical analysis. But if you want to use interviews, focus groups, ethnographies, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and other qualitative methodologies, then you might need to convince your readers that these designs are valid and reliable. Hammersley helps because he does NOT simply defend qualitative inquiry; instead, he questions it; he probes its weaknesses; and he helps you to understand. See reviews herehere, and here.

Heath, Christian; Hindmarsh, Jon; and Paul Luff (2010). Video in Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Because video cameras and video editing software have become relatively inexpensive and easy to use, I think VisCom researchers should increasingly use video in their work, and this book does a good job of explaining how to use video in qualitative research. The authors use examples from their qualitative studies, generally involving ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. They obviously have a lot of experience using video and they pass along useful information about gaining access, collecting data, analyzing video and preparing presentations. Click here for an article based on this book.

Marshall, Catherine and Gretchen B. Rossman (2006). Designing Qualitative Research, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

If you’ve never done a qualitative research study, and you need to write a proposal for one, then this is the book for you. Click here for reviews. And here. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Miles, Matthew B. and A. Michael Huberman (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

This is the best book, by far, in order to understand the many ways you can analyze qualitative data. Click here for reviews. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Mitchell, Claudia (2011). Doing Visual Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

I like applied research and I like participatory research—where researchers and community members work together to solve a concrete, local problem, and this book is very useful for that type of research. Mitchell discusses Photovoice research (community-based photography) as well as community-based video-making. She also explains how to interpret and use images. This book is very practical and easy to read.

Patton, Michael Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 2nd ed. Newbury Park: Sage.

There are a lot of books on qualitative research methods, but this is one of the best and most cited (at least 17,000 times!). Patton provides the rationale for qualitative methods as well as the detail one needs to actually use those methods. Click here for Amazon reviews. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Pink, Sarah (2006). Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Pink’s book discusses how to use video in order to collect data for research, but she emphasizes ethnography, whereas Heath et al emphasize ethnomethodology and conversation analysis. “She mentions the appropriateness of using photography, video, and hypermedia and why these serve as convenient tools; she also emphasizes the factors that produce the justifiable use for visual ethnography.” Click here for a review. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Rose, Gillian (2004). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

A good book that emphasizes visual culture. Click here for a review. My doctoral advisee Matt Haught also reviewed it.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case Study Research, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

I think that one of the most useful designs for VisCom researchers is the case study, and this is the definitive book on how to do case studies; it has been cited at least 39,000 times. Click here for a review.

One Response to VisCom Methods

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