Synopsis One: introduction

"Research" brings a variety of associations to people from different backgrounds. Some think of "number-crunching." Some think of simply "gathering information." It's true these may be part of academic or "scientific" research, but for students of academic research methods at the graduate level, it's more than that. Researchers try to find out things using a rational, organized, systematic approach to learning something new, based on methods of collecting data. Academic research may be described as a spiral, each researcher building on what others have done before her or him. The goal of the researcher is no less than finding out something no one knew before, ever, and it's what makes research so exciting and powerful in our society.

Scientific research differs from others ways in which we learn things in daily life, based on:

* authorities;

* personal experience;

* intuition;

* tradition;

* superstition.

Research in speech communication began in ancient times, as far back as ancient Egypt. Research in mass communication, however, is more recent, dating from the 19th century or later. The two now overlap and share many similar goals and research methods.