Book review: Communication Science Theory and Research; An Advanced Introduction

A good textbook knows exactly who needs to read it. Fortunately that is not a problem for Communication Science, Theory and Research; An Advanced Introduction. This book is firmly aimed at students embarking on a Masters degree or Phd in communication science and it gives them a broad perspective on the major concepts and evidence across the field.

"While there is a plethora of communication theory books available, most of them are written for introductory-level courses that would be taken by sophomores and juniors in college." (Krcmar, Ewoldsen, and Roloff, 2016, p. xvi)

In addition to the usual topics of message processing, persuasion, framing, media effects models, and the role of social media, there are useful summaries of the areas of political communication science and health communication science. While there is a very interesting chapter focused on relationships and family communication, the absence of a dedicated chapter on science communication seems to be an opportunity for future editions, particularly given the communications challenges climate scientists, among others, are facing right now. It also gives students a useful primer in conducting communication research and research methods which will be of particular benefit to students embarking on a thesis or dissertation.

Where the book lets itself down is dwelling and pontificating just a bit too long on where communication science sits among our academic bigger brothers - fields such as psychology, journalism, political science, sociology, and marketing (among others). The authors are right that communication science is an interdisciplinary field and therefore it is rightfully subject to critique and criticism by experts in those other fields, but our textbooks shouldn't do their work for them. Rather we should be reminding everyone that without communication science they would be guessing about how to ensure their findings are put into practice.

I note that the authors sensibly suggest that their communication science colleagues could influence the development of this resource and I hope they address this in future editions.

However this is really a minor quibble in a first-rate textbook that fills a gap between undergraduate-level textbooks and the more advanced Handbook of Communication Science. While it is pitched at postgraduate level students, it is also a useful resource for those that have completed postgraduate studies in the field and want a refresher on the science of communication. It also earns some bonus points for being written in plain English, with engaging language that distinguishes it from the pretentious stuffiness that sometimes infects textbooks pitched at this level.

It is certainly a welcome addition to my bookshelf and I would recommend it to any student starting a postgraduate course in communication science.

Note - the author received no financial benefit for writing this review.

References

  • Krcmar, M., Ewoldsen, D.R. and Roloff, M.E. (2016) Communication science theory and research: An advanced introduction. First edn. United Kingdom: Routledge.