chapter  7
Media of science: Doing communication research
Pages 22

It is a basic insight of communication studies since classical rhetoric that language and other signs and symbols lend shape to human knowledge. The form is (part of) the message of science, bearing witness to distinctive procedures and purposes of inquiry. The prototypical social-scientific journal article, for example, implies that research questions, their operationalization in empirical research designs, the resulting findings, and the subsequent interpretive discussion can and should be separated into stages of inquiry and sections of reporting. In comparison, the equivalent humanistic essay typically moves more freely across the various stages of collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting evidence and arguments. The two publication formats can be seen to mimic two familiar communication models:1< social scientists ‘transmit’ their findings to the audience; humanistic scholars invite their readers into a ‘ritual’ of communal deliberation. The activity of research is itself a communicative practice2 that is conducted and concluded through distinctive signs – verbal language, mathematical notations, graphical representations, and other meaningful units and processes. Also, scientific communication articulates purposes or knowledge interests3< (Habermas, 1971/1968), whether administrative or critical (Lazarsfeld, 1941). The signs of science bear witness to their social origins, contexts, and objectives.