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:

Digital Media Research Program (DMRP)
(Dr. Tom Johnson)
The core mission of the Digital Media Research Programis 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 

Dr. Dominic 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. Previously, for example, we were working on stereotyping in news stories and then coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Our current project involves how journalists use Twitter. 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. Please contact Nick Lasorsa at

Media Economics Research Group (MERG)
(Dr. Iris Chyi)
Starting fall 2008, several students in my "Economics of New Media" seminar suggested that we form a Media Economics Research Group (MERG). Based on shared interest, this group carried out projects relevant to the economics (and thus the future) of journalism. We believe that "media are economic institutions and should be understood as such" (Albarran, 1996), and our goal is to demystify the (often misunderstood) economic nature of (online) news with reality-based data and logical reasoning. With so much uncertainty going on in the media world, we need research that makes sense and makes a difference. Please contact Iris Chyi at

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

Research Eclectic Group
(Dr. Paula Poindexter)
I named my group Research Eclectic because of the diversity in topics, methods, meetings, and collaborations.  Most recently I have collaborated with graduate students on three content analysis studies, two that involved the 2008 presidential election. In early 2011, I will launch a national news audience survey that will partially replicate the local news as good neighbor study and the duty to keep informed study. This national survey will also follow up on the most recent Pew Research Center findings that Facebook and Twitter users "hardly ever" use these social media for consuming news. Web-based focus groups will be conducted to explore why these social media are barely being used for news. If you'd like to get involved with the upcoming national survey or other research projects, please contact Paula Poindexter at

The News as Culture
(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. We meet Fridays at 3 p.m. in a place to be determined. Contact

Twitter Research Group (TWRG)
(Dr. Regina Lawrence)
This group focuses on how journalists and the public are using Twitter to cover and converse about politics and other issues.  Using innovative databases and path-breaking social media analysis tools, we do everything from qualitative and textual analysis to big data.  Papers prepared by TWRG members have been presented at AEJ and other major conferences and published in Journalism Studies and the International Journal of Press/Politics.  Interested? Please contact Dr. Regina Lawrence at

International Topics Research Group
(Dr. George Sylvie)

It encompasses any and all methods, with particular interest on Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Central and South America. We try to focus on how cultures and countries increase our knowledge of varying communication processes and societies. We focus on the various backgrounds and research interests of students and that of Dr. Sylvie, which includes the Nordic area. For instance, we study management and decision-making and their impact on newsrooms. Some of our members have studied:  climate change, framing and economic development; citizen media organizations in various countries; communicative practices of immigrant Muslims in the US; Nordic newsroom managers and cultural influences. Students interested in working on any of the topics, have a related interest, or who want to learn more, please contact