Research Opportunities for Graduate Students

Research is not just encouraged; research is the underpinning of the graduate education experience in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

Beginning the first year, Ph.D. and Master's Research & Theory students produce their first conference paper and by the end of their graduate education, students have presented papers at national and international conferences and published journal articles, book chapters, and in some cases co-edited books. One of the many reasons for the productivity of graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin is the dedication of journalism faculty inside and outside the classroom. In addition to making graduate seminar projects synergistic with producing research papers, faculty members collaborate with students on research projects. Some of these collaborations take place in the following research groups:

News as Culture (NAC)
(Dr. Mary Bock)
The news as culture research groups offers support for students interested in qualitative, ethnographic, content analysis or textual analysis. It's possible to contribute to ongoing projects already underway on photographic practice and visual culture. Students can also come for advice and assistance with their own individual projects. Because this group will emphasize qualitative research, there will be a heavy emphasis on writing, peer review and (occasionally) sustained, focused writing time. Meetings TBA – we might use an online meeting format. Contact

Race, Agenda-setting, Visuals & Ethics (RAVE)
(Dr. Renita Coleman)

We do all the above, plus some health communication research. Students can propose their own ideas, or work on something that's already going. My primary research method is the experiment, but we also do content analyses and surveys. Typically, we have several projects going on with two to three people working on each one. There are even some solo projects where students just come for some feedback and help from their peers and me. Please contact Renita Coleman at

Online Engagement Research Group
(Dr. Gina Chen)

We examine how online communication (through social media, online news, comment streams, blogs, etc.) influences social, civic, and political engagement. Specifically, we examine how these type of media messages influence people at the individual level. We explore the impact of these messages on the self, as well as on emotions and behaviors, such as participating politically and speaking out online. Our research group focuses primarily on quantitative methods (mainly experiments), although we have done some qualitative textual analyses and in-depth interviews as well. We have a series of projects already in progress that new members are welcome to join, and we are always open to new ideas for projects. Some projects in progress include a series of experiments to understand how online incivility impacts political debate and examining under what conditions people speak out in the debate over childhood vaccines. 

Our group will meet at 12:45 p.m. Fridays (starting Aug. 28) in BMC 3.376. Come join us!

Questions: Contact Gina Chen at

Nick Lasorsa's Research Group. My research group doesn't have a name but we have been working together for many years, with old-timers moving on to new jobs and new faces joining us each year. We focus on one topic at a time, writing a number of papers on that topic. Recent topics have included framing across different news media and over time, attitude change over time, how journalists use social media, stereotyping in news stories, and press coverage of U.S. presidential elections. Students are involved in every aspect of the projects, from coming up with project ideas, to designing studies, data collection, data analysis, and so forth. Assuming that there’s sufficient interest among students, I am currently considering starting a new research project relating to diversity and news coverage. I also am open to suggestions for other select research projects. For more information, please contact Nick Lasorsa at

Digital Media Research Program (DMRP)
(Dr. Tom Johnson)
The core mission of the Digital Media Research Program is to advance understanding among scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and the general public about today’s complex information communication technologies and media effects. In line with the overall mission of the Annette Strauss Institute, the DMRP aims to shed light on how new communication technologies and innovative outreach can be used to increase political understanding and participation in democratic societies. Given the increasing influence today’s digital media landscape exerts over citizens’ civic life, DMRP will shed light on the impact of new communication technologies use (i.e., social media) and user-generated content with respect to several benchmarks of a healthy democracy: citizens’ political knowledge, political discussion and civic and political engagement. A particular focus of the DMRP is to compare digital media use of Latin American, Iberian and American citizens and how it influences civic and political engagement as well as protest behavior. If you are interested in participating in any of the projects or want to provide some feedback and comments, please contact us at . We will meet Fridays at 3 p.m. in a place TBD.

We have several projects that are currently or will be going on this year:  the Newswhip project (including both Latin American, U.S.And British publications) in which we have a data set from the company Newswhip of the number of times articles from papers all across the world are shared on Twitter and Facebook, we have a dataset of posts and comments downloaded from Reddit, and we have done secondary data analysis on the Latin Barometer, Asian Barometer and Afro Barometer. For the coming year we hope to do a survey of Latin American journalists as well as survey Redditors about opinion leadership. Finally, we will be part of a group of political communication scholars from across the campus that I hope will lead to joint projects examining digital media in the 2016 election.