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CMST 2A03 Quantitative Mthds/Resrch

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Dr. Terry Flynn

Email: tflynn@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26977


Office Hours: Wednesdays: 1-5pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description


This course introduces you to key quantitative research methods used in the humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on specific approaches that are related to human communication.  You will learn about the value of the tools of research; which ones are useful or harmful within the context of your own critical understanding of interpersonal and mediated communication.  We will relate this to real world applications by hearing directly from leading communication research professionals about their work and careers (e.g. with guest lecturers and case studies), and by working on real world surveys.


This is not a “stats” course primarily.  Hopefully you will learn the value of statistical applications as one tool in your toolbox.  You will relate the quantitative tools you learn about with the qualitative tools discussed in the parallel course (CMST 2B03), as well as other “ways of knowing” about communication phenomena, e.g. ethnography or discourse analysis.


The course combines lectures and tutorials.  Much of the material learned in the lectures will be applied in the tutorials.  In order to do well in this course you need to attend both, as well as participate in the on-line A2L forum.





Learning Goals


By the end of the course you should be able to understand and evaluate the value and appropriateness of a range of research methodologies as they apply to communication enquiry, including within your own area(s) of interest.


Like a carpenter with her or his tool kit, you will:

  • Be familiar enough with the tools to evaluate them overall, and in relation to a particular research question;
  • With confidence, choose the tools from your research kit and use them in a way that fits any given research project; and,
  • Know how to use the research tools in combination (including with qualitative research tools).


You should also have improved:

  • Critical analysis of research – both in the academic and wider public realms (especially through media and professional reports of research);
  • Writing and oral presentation skills, particularly as they apply to research reporting techniques; and,
  • Team work abilities as they apply to the research process and the various stages of research design, data collection, analysis and reporting.



Method of Teaching:


Typically, each class/tutorial will involve a mixture of lecture, and discussion concerning the scheduled topic. As the syllabus indicates, guest speakers are an important component of this course, exposing students to professionals sharing real-world experiences and advice. Some sessions will include videos and/or brief video clips illustrating applied principles of communication research. Assigned readings, lectures, guest speaker remarks and videos are all testable.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Bryman, Alan, and James J. Teevan and Edward Bell (2012). Social Research Methods, 3rd Canadian Edition.  Don Mills: Oxford University Press.

Additional Course Materials and Readings:

Additional required reading material will be posted on our class A2L site. 

Style Guides (Referencing)

Please use APA or MLA styles; see library guides at:



Open Source Statistical Software

This term we will be using Statistics Open For All (SOFA). Please download this software and watch the videos prior to our discussions in class. Here is the link:


Method of Assessment:



Learning in this course results primarily from in-class and tutorial discussions. The balance of the learning results from the lectures on communication research concepts, from related readings, and from researching your presentations, cases, assignments, and projects. All work will be evaluated on an individual basis except in certain cases where group work is required. In these cases group members will share the same grade adjusted by peer evaluation. Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

Required Assignments:








Tutorial (15%)



Monthly Online Quizzes (3 x 15%)


24 January, 28 February, 27 March

Group Project:



Submitted to A2L on

1 April 2016 by 11:59pm (accepted until 8 April 2016 by 11:59pm)

Research Paper:

1 Individual Paper (25%)




Submitted to A2L on

23 March 2016 by 11:59pm (accepted until 30 March 2016 by 11:59pm


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


All assignments must submitted to a digital dropbox on A2L (on the specified due date) and, in person, to your TA in the first tutorial after the assignment is due. All assignments will be automatically verified by A2L’s plagiarism detection software service -- http://mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity/turnitin/students/index.html

All written work will be marked on grammar, clarity of writing, and organization, as well as content and analysis. All assignments must be personally submitted at the beginning of the tutorial on the date it is due.  Do not drop off assignments in any of the CMST or Instructor/TA offices (it will be considered late unless handed in to the TA in Tutorial).

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions and Late Penalties

All assignments are due on the due date provided. Any submission after that date will mean that the assignment is late. However, assignments (not including quizzes) will be accepted after the due date for up to one week without any penalty. No assignments will be accepted later than one week. You should do everything in your power to get your assignment in by the due date; the one-week grace period is to allow you to complete your assignments should you have minor medical situations or family issues. Please note that MSAF is for a maximum period of three days, and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the one-week grace period.

Your assignments are due in the digital dropbox on A2L by the deadlines listed in this course outline. You must also hand your assignment in to your TA in your assigned tutorial during the assigned week. You must post each assignment on A2L dropbox and hand it in to the TA. If you have made an arrangement with your TA to drop your assignment off at an alternative time and place, then you may do so without penalty. If you have not made such an arrangement, assignments not submitted to the digital dropbox on A2L and submitted to your TA will be considered late. Handing in late assignments will not be penalized for legitimate certifiable reasons such as illness or the death of a close family member. You must provide evidence for your reason (doctor's note, death certificate).

Missed Assignments (McMaster Student Absence Form – MSAF). Should you need to request accommodation due to minor medical situations please see the new changes announced by the university this Fall. http://mcmaster.ca/msaf/

Class and Tutorial Attendance. Attendance at both the lectures and the tutorials is simply in your best interest. The lectures will cover a great deal of material, much of which is very technical. Missing even one class will set you back.  If ill, please contact your Teaching Assistant (TA) for further assistance on missed material.

Email to Faculty. It is the policy of the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia (CSMM) that all email communication between students and instructors (including TAs) must originate from their official McMaster University email accounts. This policy protects the confidentiality and sensitivity of information and confirms the identities of both the student and instructor. CSMM department instructors will delete messages that do not originate from McMaster email accounts.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Lecture and Reading List


Wk of…





Jan 6



Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapters 1 and 18



Jan 13


Ways of Knowing

-Theory and Research

-Quantitative and Qualitative  


-Marketing Research


Research Design

-Types of Research Design

-How to conduct a research project


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 2









Jan 20


A Critical Look at Research

-The Research Cycle*



-Questioning Numbers



Ethical Issues in Research



Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 3



-Justin Lewis (2001). Constructing Public Opinion. New York: Columbia University Press. [pp. ix-xiv, 3-20]

-Justin Lewis (2002). Transcript  of “Constructing Public Opinion” Video

Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 11



- McMaster University Research Ethics On-line Tutorial at:


[Note ‘next’ buttons don’t always work; go back to table of contents in the tutorial if necessary.]



Jan 27


Secondary Research

-Library Research


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 7




Feb 3




Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 4



-Fletcher and Wozniak (2005). “Public perceptions of Ownership Concentration in the Canadian News Media.”



Feb 10

Writing Research

Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 17



Feb 17

No Class – Winter Break




Feb 24

Asking Questions


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 5


-Chakrapani/Deal, Chapter 6; pp. 182-227





Mar 2



Leger Data Sets


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 12


Begin watching SOFA video tutorials






Mar 9

Quantitative Data Analysis (1)

- Introduction to SOFA

-Univariate Analysis

-Frequency Tables


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 13





Mar 16

Quantitative Data Analysis (2)

-Measures of Central Tendency

-Bivariate Analysis


Quantitative Data Analysis (3)

-Correlation / Null hypothesis / Chi-square / Multivariate analysis


Required Text: Bryman/Teevan/Bell, Chapter 13








Mar 23

Workshop on Survey / Project




Mar 30

Audience Research




Apr 6

 Course Review