Research Opportunities for Graduate Students

Graduate Research

Research Groups

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. Contact Mary Bock for more information.

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 for information.

Digital Media Research Program (DMRP)
Dr. Tom Johnson

The core mission of the Digital Media Research Program is to advance understanding among scholars, practitioners, policymakers, 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 Tom Johnson. We will meet Fridays at 3 p.m.

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.

Data & Democracy
Dr. Jo Lukito

The Data & Democracy group is a subset of the Center for Media Engagement's Propaganda Vertical. The focus of our group is to study political communication using meso- or macro-level theoretical approaches, with a focus on news and social media content. Relevant research topics include (but are not limited to) disinformation, global media flows, political campaigns, and cross-platform communication. This is a highly collaborative team using multiple qualitative, traditional quantitative, and computational approaches.

Contact Jo Lukito for more information.

Technology & Information Policy Institute (TIPI)
Dr. Sharon Strover

The Technology & Information Policy Institute serves to research imbalances and provide insights that inform public policies and programs focused on digital inclusion for everyone. The institute also investigates the social impacts of digital media, growing concerns around disasters and risk, and artificial-intelligence in the future of work. In addition to sponsoring educational programs and conferences, the institute shares its world-class expertise in hopes of increasing access to communication technologies, and thus vastly improve technology literacy, standards of living, and innovation.

Contact Sharon Strover for more information.

Computational Media Lab (CML)

Big data and computational methods help us to answer big social questions. At the Computational Media Lab (CML), we’re dedicated to tapping the powerful potential of diverse digital data to understand the current implications and future impact of media messages. The Computational Media Lab is a collaborative incubator for cutting-edge research on social media through the use of big data, machine learning and other emergent computational methods. Current lab projects usually involve a group of students, but I have worked with individual students on projects as well. Publications from our group include conference proceedings and journal articles. Please contact Dhiraj Murthy via the ‘Contact Us’ section of the CML website.