New Tricks for Old—and New—Dogs

Source Organization: Pew Research Center

Speaker: Scott Keeter

Director of Survey Research, The Pew Research Center

Venue: The 31st Annual Research Symposium College of Communication and Information, University of Tennessee

02/27/2009 - Perhaps I should have entitled this "Old Tricks and New Tricks," since all of us, whatever our generation, have been given a legacy of tried-and-true methods for research—and we may all be finding these a bit out-of-date.

Communication research is in a period of transformation. Both the phenomena we study and the tools we have to study it with are undergoing rapid change. Those of us in the trenches see the day to day change as making our jobs more difficult, but we should also not lose sight of the fact that there is an exciting aspect to this change—the object of our study is both more interesting and perhaps in some respects more amenable to study than ever before. I want to focus on four things today:

  1. What is happening to our main methodology for studying human behavior, the survey.
  2. The changing communications world that we are trying to study.
  3. Some new sources of data about the communications world.
  4. The downsides and upsides.
The principal tool for communication research for most of my lifetime has been the random sample survey. Most of the classic studies in political communications and other subfields were based on surveys with probability samples of the public. But now such surveys are imperiled by a combination of problems.

Read the full commentary New Tricks for Old—and New—Dogs on the Pew Research Center's Web site.

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