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Glossary

 
The glossary is currently under construction. New items will be added on a regular basis.

Abstract –  A brief summation of a research report - usually no longer than one paragraph - that states the research question, the methods used, and a few of the main findings. It appears at the beginning of a report and should be clear and concise.

Adjacency network – A network that consists of a single type of nodes (people, organizations, documents, etc.) and the links between them. Friendship networks are one type of adjacency network.

Affiliation network – Also known as two-mode networks, those consist of two different types of nodes often called "actors" and "events". One example of an affiliation network involves the connections between organizations and their employees.

Alters – In social network analysis of ego-networks (composed of a focal individual's relations), alters are the other people connected to the focal actor.

Closed Questions – In a survey or interview, these are questions with clearly defined response options. Closed-ended questions are generally analyzed through quantitative analysis.

Coding – A process used in the analysis of qualitative data. Coding generally involves reading through transcripts of qualitative data (like focus groups or interviews) and marking ideas, words, concepts, phrases, terms or themes that appear frequently with the same analytical code.

Communication Ecology – The network of communication resource relations that an individual constructs an individual in pursuit of a goal, and in context of their communication environment. This includes connections to interpersonal, media, and organizational communication resources.

Communication Environment (or Communication Action Context) – Any piece of the physical or social environment that can either promote or discourage communication about the local community.

Communication Infrastructure – The generally invisible infrastructure of a community that can be a key tool for connecting to residents or mobilizing social change efforts. It consists of the storytelling network and the communication environment.

Deductive Coding –  A type of coding of qualitative data in which you start your analysis with codes already in mind, based on previous research, a theoretical framework, or your own experience.
Ego – In social network analysis, ego is the focal node: the individual whose network is described.

Executive Summary – A summation of a research report that mirrors the content of the larger work. Longer and more in-depth than an abstract, the executive summary should be able to stand on its own for those who do not read the entire report.

Focus Group – A research method in which a small group of participants are brought together to have a discussion on a specific topic or topics, facilitated by a moderator.

Funnel Approach – A technique used in the development of a focus group moderator guide in which questions begin with a broad focus, then focus on central themes, and finish with more specific questions.

Generalizability – The extent to which conclusions from data analysis of a sample can be applied to the population as a whole. It is generally assumed that quantitative research, but not qualitative research, strives to achieve this.

Geo-Ethnic Media – Any type of media that is directed at a specific geographic area and/or toward a specific ethnicity. These media can come in many forms, including newspapers, radio and television programs, websites, magazines and newsletters.
Inductive Coding – A type of coding of qualitative data in which you start your analysis without any predetermined idea about which codes you will use in the process.

Likert Scale – A commonly used scale in the development of closed-ended survey interview questions. Generally placed on a 5-point or 7-point scale, this asks respondents to say how much they agree or disagree with a given statement.

Literature Review – A research method in which relevant materials on a specific topic – including books, journal articles, websites, newspapers and reports – are searched for and analyzed.

Major Themes – Identifying major themes is one of the primary endpoints in the analysis of qualitative data. Major themes are generally arrived at through a process of coding and comparison of the qualitative data.

Non-Probability (non-Representative) Sample – A sample that cannot make claims to generalizability because participants were not selected randomly from a broader population. Strategies like convenience samples – drawing from members of a population to which one has easy access – and/or snowball sampling – where participants in the study help recruit other participants – are often used in research and can still provide valuable insights into a topic.

Open-ended Questions – In interviews, these are questions that do not have any previously defined possible responses. This line of questioning can lead to lengthy responses from research participants, while the data is qualitative in nature.

Participatory Action Research – A way of approaching research that includes those persons most affected by the topic under study in the activities of shaping research questions, developing a research methodology, collecting and analyzing data, and disseminating the findings.

Probability (Representative) Sample – A sample which accurately represents the broader population under study in which each member member of the population has an equal chance of being selected for the study. These are generally seen as providing the most generalizable results.

Primary Research – The collection of new, original research data.

Research Method – The strategy for answering the research questions, this is the process by which the researcher collects and analyzes data.

Research Questions – A key starting point in any systematic research, this sets the agenda for what the researcher is interested in finding out in the course of their work.

Pre-testing – The systematic testing of a research methodology before it is used on the actual research sample. Pre-testing allows for protocols like survey questions and focus group moderator guides to be made clear and concise before the research study is conducted.

Qualitative Data – Data which is descriptive and not statistical or numerical in nature. This can include data like interviews, focus groups, observation, and document analysis.

Quantitative Data – Data which deals with measurement, numbers, and statistical analysis. Quantitative data is often derived from surveys.

Sample – A subset of the broader population from whom the research data is collected. For instance, if a researcher is interested in learning what women in Southern California think about a health issue, they will try to survey or interview a sample of Southern California women and not every woman in Southern California.

Saturation Point – In the process of collecting qualitative data, this is the point at which few, if any, new major themes related to your research questions become apparent in conversations with or observation of research participants. This generally means that it is appropriate for the researcher to move onto a data analysis and writing stage.

Screening Questions –  In survey research, these are questions asked of participants before the main survey in order to determine their eligibility. 

Secondary Research – The summary, analysis, or synthesis of previously collected research data.

Survey – Any research method that involves asking questions of people. Surveys that are constructed as interviews are generally constructed to collect qualitative data, while surveys constructed as questionnaires are usually used to collect quantitative data (and sometimes both quantitative and qualitative data).

Social Desirability – The tendency of research respondents to answer questions in ways that they think they should. This can be a concern when asking questions that are sensitive in nature or about behaviors that are seen as socially inappropriate in some way.

Social Media – A diverse array of online media that allow for conversation, participation, resource sharing and networking.

Social Network – A group of individuals along with the specific set of social ties between them.

 
Solutions-Oriented Journalism - highlights responses to social problems. These stories are not just bad news, nor are they just good news. The strongest stories look at social problems and explore the underlying reasons for the problems, and critically examine efforts to address them.

Storytelling Network – The web of local residents, geo-ethnic media, and community-based organizations that participate in conversations about issues and events in the local community.

Topline Report – A document that is compiled immediately after research data collection (like a focus group). This report is generally only a few pages and includes information about what research was conducted, when, where, and with whom. It also outlines a few preliminary major findings of the research.

Waiting Room Survey – A survey given to participants of focus groups before they enter the actual focus group discussion. A waiting room survey can be useful to collect basic demographic information, to ask questions that might not be appropriate for a group setting, or to ask questions for which there is not enough time in the focus group itself.