Students giving research presentations

Research Centers and Groups

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is world renowned as a leading force in communications research. With an intellectual climate built on collaboration, multidisciplinary and methodological pluralism, faculty and students produce research that is among the best in the field. Much of this work happens in the research centers and groups that are a large part of the intellectual culture of the school. Below is a current list of centers and research groups.

Center for Communication and Democracy

International Communication Research Group

ICRG studies the relationships between communication and democracy in multiple contexts. With an initial focus on Latin America, this group has expanded its scope to include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom, through a series of comparative collaborative research projects. Contact: Professor Hernando Rojas

Madison Commons

Founded in 2006, Madison Commons provides news and information from all of Madison’s neighborhoods. It is a collaboration between Madison citizens from every part of the city and faculty and students at SJMC, focusing coverage on education, food and transportation and neighborhood news. It also provides a lab for research on community, civic and public journalism. Contact: Professor Lew Friedland

Qualitative Inquiry & Research Group

Meetings are devoted to providing intensive feedback on completed or in-progress papers, learning new research techniques and discussing innovative methodology from qualitative perspectives. Every aspect of the research process is explored. Contacts: Professors Lew Friedland, Katy Culver, Sue Robinson and Lucas Graves

Center for Journalism Ethics

The Center for Journalism Ethics aims to advance the ethical standards and practices of democratic journalism through discussion, research, teaching, professional outreach and newsroom partnerships. The center is a voice for journalistic integrity, a forum for informed debate and an incubator for new ideas and practices. Contacts: Professors Katy Culver and Lindsay Palmer

Mass Communication History Center

A part of the Wisconsin Historical Society, the center provides scholars access to private collections, papers and various types of unpublished materials relating to the growth of mass communication in the United States and other parts of the world. Contact: Professor Steve Vaughn

Mass Communication Research Center

All affiliated groups share an orientation toward collaborative engagement with mass communication research topics, theories, and methods; a policy of open participation; an expectation that students will be instrumental in setting the agenda for and contributing to the goals of each group’s activities. Currently, the following research groups are part of the Mass Communication Research Center and have regular meetings to advance these areas of inquiry. Contact: Professor Dhavan Shah

Civic Culture and Contentious Politics 

Bridges scholarship from various disciplines, particularly communications, political science and sociology, to investigate the fluid and evolving relationship between mass media and civic and political life. Recent efforts focus on the role of mediated and networked communication in highly polarized political environments such as the deeply contested efforts to recall Gov. Scott Walker and the contentious 2016 presidential election. Contacts: Professors Lew Friedland, Dhavan Shah, Mike Wagner and Chris Wells

Health Information Technology Studies

Examines the influence of health communication technologies on optimizing individuals’ health behaviors, quality of life, emotional coping and access to needed services, focusing on health communication in the context of cancer, addiction, aging, and asthma. This group aims to improve the development and dissemination of appropriate, accessible, and accurate health messages, interventions, campaigns, and technologies. Contact: Professor Dhavan Shah

Media and Politics

The original MCRC research group is dedicated to conducting empirical research on political communication and training students in innovative research designs, methodological approaches and theoretical approaches. With a history that dates back to the 1950s, this group has helped to launch the careers of a multitude of communication scholars. The group has conducted survey, experimental, and mixed-methods research on a range of topics, from projects on news framing effects to digital media influences. Contact: Professor Doug McLeod

Social Media and Democracy

Focuses on the study of user-created digital media and its political and social implications and is broadly concerned with the implications of the internet for participatory engagement and political conversation, with particular attention to social media and web news sources, the interactions among them and their implications for societal and political action. The group applies computational social science, especially language processing and related data science techniques, to the study of “big data.” Contacts: Dhavan Shah and Chris Wells

Physiology & Communication Effects Research Group

Conducts research examining the physiological correlates of political and social attitudes, media effects and integrates theory and evidence from the sociological environment, political groups and institutions, psychology and physiology. The group is interested in when people think, reason, feel, and behave in ways “against type.” Visit the PACE lab website. Contact: Professor Michael Wagner