As a quantitative communication scientist, I believe that it is my job to conduct research using sound methodological practices and, importantly, to do so in an ethical fashion. My research focuses on interpersonal and health communication, primarily within conversations about health, factors that motivate interpersonal health information sharing, and strategic message design to promote persuasion and information sharing. I therefore adhere to the following research philosophy in order to effectively fulfill this job and conduct research in these areas.
First, I believe that the use of quantitative research methods requires an understanding of statistical methods that goes beyond merely reporting the outcomes of statistical tests as a way to support or refute a hypothesis. Quantitative researchers should instead have a working knowledge of statistical theory, should strive to accurately interpret results, and should understand the advantages and limitations of their design and analysis choices. Failure to adhere to these principles limits the ability of communication science researchers to develop a systematic program of research to advance knowledge in any given area.
Further, I believe that transparency in research is of the utmost importance. In quantitative communication science, this requires researchers to make, for example, their message stimuli, protocol, codebooks, data files, and syntax files readily available to share with other researchers and interested individuals both inside and outside academia. Doing so facilitates both direct and conceptual replications, which I believe are critically important to any research program and the overall advancement of science. I have done this with my own published empirical work by sharing these types of files on the research section of my website.
In order to fully realize these methodological goals within communication science, I believe that it is essential that quantitative researchers continuously refine and expand their ability to use quantitative research methods and statistical analyses through ongoing educational workshops and classes. I have put this into practice myself by taking statistics courses and attending several statistical workshops and seminars both within and outside of my home institution, and I plan to continue doing so in the future.
Second, I believe that communication science researchers have an imperative to adhere to ethical research practices by avoiding harm and recognizing the potential for iatrogenic effects of their work. My research focuses on developing and testing interpersonal and health communication theory, with the goal of implementing interventions that have a real-world impact across the lifespan. The primary objective in such cases is to use communication theory as a solution to practical interpersonal or health-related issues; however, intervening in such ways may also have potential negative outcomes. Ethical research therefore requires researchers to understand the possibility of unintended negative outcomes and to pretest research projects and interventions to avoid these iatrogenic effects whenever possible.
By adhering to these methodological and ethical research principles, I believe that it is possible to create an impactful and systematic program of communication science research.