An Introduction to Theory
In communication, indeed in any discipline, theory is often held up as the zenith of research. Theory-driven research is not simply preferred, it is necessary to meaningful scholarship. Merely collecting data, without a theory to guide the process, is likely to lead to findings that are, at best, without meaning, and at worst, accidental, coincidental, or spurious. One could argue that along with solid research design, theory is one of the best protections against Type I error (i.e., false positives in research). In other words, with the guidance and direction of theory, one is less likely to “cry wolf” with any data-analytic findings.