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Reading List

Often in research, it’s difficult to know where to begin to look. This page is a listing of some of Matt’s favorite readings and citations for theories and research methods important in mass communications research. In addition, some citations include links to reviews of Matt’s thoughts about the work.


Media History

The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America
By David M. Henkin

This book explores the impact of the U.S. Postal Service on mass communications and democracy in the 1800s. It’s a great resource to understand the way print capitalism thrived in America, as well as how the media were able to have a mass effect, despite limited circulation areas.


Graphic Design

Pure Design
By Mario Garcia

This book inspired Matt the first time he read it, in 2005. Its advice for designers of newspapers and magazines explains how to adapt to the habits, wants, and needs of readers. It is a simple text to read, and will help the designer to think beyond text and color to the impact of messages created with visuals.


The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook
By Tim Harrower

This text is a standard for college newspaper design courses for good reason. Harrower talks about the basic steps needed to construct a working newspaper (and magazine) page. He teaches readers how to use type, photos, graphics, and colors to guide the reader though an information consumption experience.


Research Methods

Visual Communication Research Designs
By Keith Kenney

Kenney’s book examines a range of qualitative research methodologies as they apply to visual communication. His book uses a semi-case study approach for each method, using a narrative of a research situation to explain the purpose of each methodology. Chapters explain methods for sampling, data collection, and analysis, as well as ethical issues that can arise with each method. Click here for my review of this book.


Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Traditions
By John W. Creswell

Creswell’s book is an outstanding resource for methodologies for qualitative research. As the title suggests, Creswell addresses five traditions of qualitative inquiry: Biography, Phenomenology, Grounded Theory, Ethnography, and Case Study. Click here for my review of this book.


Questioning Qualitative Inquiry: Critical Essays
By Martyn Hammersley

Hammersley’s book comes in response to questions about the validity of all research methods, including qualitative ones, in terms of the value of their findings and their impact on policy. Governments, she argues, have turned to primarily funding quantitative research, and this decision is short-sighted. Qualitative inquiry creates a complete, experiential data. Click here for my review of this book.


Video in Qualitative Research
By Christian Heath,  Jon Hindmarsh, and Paul Luff 

While video has existed and has been used in research for some time, Heath, Hindmarsh, and Luff explain many of its applications in this methodology textbook. The strength of using video, they say, is its ability to capture social interaction in everyday situations. However, getting access to the video itself can be difficult. Getting access and using video in research presents an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of life and culture. Click here for my review of this book.


Designing Qualitative Research, 4th ed.
By Catherine Marshall and Gretchen B. Rossman

In this methodological textbook, Marshall and Rossman offer a strong discussion of qualitative methodology and show the broad range of its research methods. For mass communication scholars, this book is valuable for its focus on communication as one of the dominant paradigms of qualitative inquiry. In the field of visual communication, this book is less critical, but does show a turn toward recognition and incorporation of visual sensibilities into the full realm of qualitative research. Click here for my review of this book.


Qualitative Data Analysis, 2nd ed.
By Matthew B. Miles and A. Michael Huberman

The strongest part of the book is its explanation of data reduction and analysis in coding the recorded data and then comparing it within the case and then comparing the cases. Second is their discussion of how to use coding schemes and software to find the ultimate resonance to answer research questions and hypotheses, and to find disagreeing information. Click here for my review of this book.


Doing Visual Research
By Claudia Mitchell

Mitchell’s book interweaves anthropological and communication approaches to visual data in the understanding of culture. Click here for my review of this book.


Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods, 2nd ed.
By Michael Q. Patton

As it relates to visual communication, I think this book offers a variety of methods that can be used in visual inquiry, but he does not address it directly. The reader will have to make the jump from general qualitative to visual qualitative. Click here for my review of this book.


Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research, 2nd ed.
By Sarah Pink

Pink’s forward-thinking book offers strategies for ethnographic researchers to gather visual data. Reading it I immediately notice its focus on three primary methods of visual media: photographs, video, and the Internet. Pink primarily considers research with photos and videos, and shares their elements with the Internet, and examines it in its own right. Click here for my review of this book.


Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials 
By Gillian Rose

Rose’s book examines the traditional methodologies for answering visual research questions. Click here for my review of this book.


Case Study Research, 4th ed.
By Robert Yin

Yin’s book is an outstanding guide for designing and analyzing case studies. He thoroughly addresses the steps in planning a study and then making meaning from the data. He quickly addresses the purpose of the case study, on the first page. “Case studies are the preferred strategy when how or why questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context.” Click here for my review of this book.



Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection
By Ruth Finnegan

Finnegan’s text examines the ways in which humans send and receive messages. Finnegan called these methods, modes, and explains that these modes follow human senses. The text thoroughly explains these modes, as well as the codes used to send messages through these modes. Click here for my review of this book.


Visual Studies: A skeptical introduction
By James Elkins

Elkins points out many problems with the field of visual studies, from the academy to the research itself, which practically divides the book into two sections. Chapters one and two address the formation of visual studies and discusses its necessary integration into the modern curriculum, while the later portion points to specific research issues that are at fault in visuals, and in many places offers advice to correct those faults. Click here for my review of this book.


Literacy in the New Media Age
By Gunther Kress

The rise of technology and digital media have given people new ways to communicate. In this text, Kress builds the case that technology’s change on communication strategies has changed the fabric of literacy itself. Multiple modes of human and digital communication send messages, and message creators must be mindful of the ways in which meaning is conveyed in each of them. Click here for my review of this book.


Reading images: The grammar of visual design
By Gunther Kress & Theo van Leeuwen

Kress and van Leeuwen identify the purpose of this text as to define a theoretical and descriptive framework that can be used for visual analysis. They use a social semiotic epistemology to construct their framework for visual understanding. Click here for my review of this book.

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