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Undergraduate Research in Communications? Why Not!

 Written by    April 22, 2019

One of the best things about Ohio State is that it’s big enough for you to pursue anything — or everything — that interests you. This semester I was able to take an independent study course (Communication 4998) and participate in undergraduate research.

Each semester the School of Communication emails a document with information from researchers seeking undergraduate assistants. I reached out to multiple faculty members and ended up working with Dr. Matthew Grizzard, who joined Ohio State faculty at the beginning of the 2018 academic year. Dr. Grizzard came from the University at Buffalo and studies the media effects of video games, TV shows and films.

Undergraduate research is a great opportunity to work with professional researchers, grad students and PhD candidates. Our team was led by Dr. Grizzard and included five grad and PhD students and six undergrads. If you’re even a little interested in grad school, this is a great first taste of research and a good opportunity to build relationships with current grad students.

We studied narrative emotional flow, specifically in an episode from the Netflix documentary series called “I am a Killer.” We worked on video editing, stimulus creation, study design, IRB approval and Qualtrics survey creation. We even ran the study in the lab! I learned a great deal about team work and brainstorming, and this was a great application of the classes I’ve taken in research methods and data analysis.

However, you’re not required to have taken any prerequisite courses before getting involved in research. All you have to do is talk to your advisor and enroll in Comm 4998, which is a pass/fail class. You can take the course for one, two or three credit hours, which corresponds to how many hours of work you want contribute each week. For communication majors, Comm 4998 qualifies as one of the special topic elective requirements.

I plan to continue to work with Dr. Grizzard next semester, as we hope to continue data collection and analysis. My favorite part was the immersive aspect of this experience: the undergrads on the team didn’t just facilitate the CREP lab studies, we were involved in the whole experimental process.

Opportunities for communication research extend beyond mass media, such as health care or political science, and many opportunities are available each semester. Look for information in your inbox a few weeks before the start of the semester, or email your advisor to get involved.

Mass media research is NOT your typical bio or chemistry lab research, but it’s still valuable to learn about how media impacts our attitudes and behaviors. (PHOTO CREDIT)

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