Spring 2021 - CMNS 201W D100

Empirical Communication Research Methods (4)

Class Number: 2969

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2021
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM

  • 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 201 or CMNS 260 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/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. 


  • Online Discussions 20%
  • *Participation Outcomes 30%
  • Research Assignments 50%


*Participation outcomes will take into account a full range of online components and preparation, for example, using various functions in Canvas to demonstrate that you have done the work assigned and completed reading assignments.

Marks will be deducted for late work



Babbie, Earl R., and Lance W. Roberts (2018), Fundamentals of Social Research. Nelson Education, Toronto. (4th edition)

You can purchase the ebook version of the full text here.


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 https://canvas.sfu.ca/

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html 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. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).