Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reading research papers

I've spent several hours over the last couple of days reading and commenting on research papers submitted by faculty and grad students to the PR Division's annual paper competition held by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. I can't say much about it, because we use a double-blind review process (I don't know who wrote the papers, and the authors won't know who the judges were). If I mention the topic or other details, the authors might recognize their work.

Anyway, I read five papers that included a variety of topics and research methods. The quality was pretty good this year, and I'll look forward to seeing some of them presented in San Francisco.

The question is: what does this have to do with teaching PR? The short answer is, "not much." What I read won't directly influence how or what I teach.

The long, and more honest, answer is, "a lot." I read about areas that aren't my specialty (say, international PR, or fundraising). I saw how other scholars approach research problems, which can in turn inform my work. I even got to see my own research cited here and there-- which is the academic version of having someone link to your post.

So, even though this is the busiest time of the teaching year, I have to conclude I didn't mind spending a little time on research.

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"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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