Summer 2019 - CMNS 201 D100

Empirical Communication Research Methods (4)

Class Number: 1382

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    EDB 7618, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 10, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    WMC 3520, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    24 units, and CMNS 110 and 130.



An introduction to empirical research methods in diverse traditions of communication enquiry. Some methods recognize communication as everyday interactions; others analyze communication as a process; still others blend traditional scientific empiricism with analytical and critical methods derived from the arts and humanities. Topics include: ethics, paradigms, conceptualizing and operationalizing research, sampling, interviews, surveys, unobtrusive observation, content analysis, and the role of statistics in communication research. Students with credit for CMNS 201W or CMNS 260 may not take this course for further credit. Quantitative.



This course is an introduction to ways of conducting empirical research.  Empirical research uses techniques of direct and indirect observation to test hypotheses and develop new ideas. The course will introduce students to basic principles and tools in research design and data analysis.   

The goal of this course is to help students develop the skills necessary to read and critically evaluate research reports and scholarly articles.  The course provides useful knowledge for upper-level coursework and opportunities for students to learn skills many employers hope new university grads will have.   

Empirical research guides decision-making in matters that concern all of us.   Understanding how research is done is an essential step in assessing appropriate uses of research in real world applications.


  • Quizzes (based on best 3 out of 4, during class lecture time) 20%
  • Final Exam 40%
  • Research Assignments 20%
  • Attendance & Participation in Lectures, Tutorials & Labs 20%


*Lab and tutorial participation grades will take into account preparation, for example, bringing the results of take-home exercises to class, and demonstrating in discussions and Canvas postings that you have done the work assigned and completed reading assignments.     Marks will be deducted for absences and late work


Students who began their degrees in Fall 2006 onwards must successfully complete at least 6 credits of “Q”, lower or upper division course(s). Courses with “Q” designation will assist students to develop quantitative (numeric, geometric) or formal (deductive, probabilistic) reasoning, and to develop skills in practical problem solving, critical evaluation, or analysis.  

The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline (note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies)



Other readings will be assigned and made available electronically or put on reserve at the library.   Study materials and copies of handouts will be posted on the course page on Canvas

Babbie, E. R. and L.W. Roberts, Fundamentals of Social Research (4th edition). Toronto: Nelson Education, 2018.  ISBN: 9780176570118
ISBN: 9780176570118

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.