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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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10

The Basics of Experimental Research in Media Studies

Glenn Leshner

ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses the basics of experimental design used in media studies research. Many scientific researchers believe, with good reason, that the controlled experiment is perhaps the best research method for determining a cause and effect relationship between variables. The chapter considers the types of research questions experiments can address, how the experiment can demonstrate causal relationships between variables, common experimental designs, data collection and interpretation, and ethical considerations. A major part of the chapter deals with internal validity pitfalls, such as confounds, randomization, and how to determine acceptable sample sizes. It also considers what may be regarded as controversial issues in experimental research, such as generalizability (or lack thereof), how to create treatment variance, the issues involved with creating message variance, and handling the issues of design complexity and manipulation checks.

This chapter discusses the basics of experimental design used in media studies research. Many scientific researchers believe, with good reason, that the controlled experiment is perhaps the best research method for determining a cause and effect relationship between variables. And yet, experimental research is relatively rare in mass communication studies, especially compared to other quantitative methods such as surveys and content analyses. Thorson, Wicks, ...

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