A survey of research foci and paradigms in media and communication Master's dissertations and Doctoral theses in South Africa
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This study set out to evaluate the foci and paradigms of research in media and communication at Master's and doctoral levels in South Africa. A sample of 241 dissertations and theses in the communication, journalism and media studies programmes of nine universities, from 2004 to 2013, categorised into historically black, historically white Afrikaans-medium and English-medium, were obtained from the databases of the National Research Foundation and some of the universities. The findings show that the production of PhD theses is far lower than that of Master's dissertations. Qualitative design tended to be the dominant approach adopted, followed by a mixed methods approach, and the quantitative approach. The focus of most of the theses is journalism, followed by general media studies. The findings further show that historically black universities bottom the table in the production of related theses and dissertations, while white English-speaking universities top the list. Also, there is evidence of a relationship between the historical origin/language of the universities and the research designs adopted, as well as the research focus of the theses. The article recommends, among others, the need for a clear-cut statement of research methodologies and designs in such theses and dissertations, greater motivation for enrolment in PhD programmes, a strengthening of historically black universities for better performance in postgraduate research, and the incorporation of the experimental method in media research in South Africa.
- Faculty of Humanities