Friday, December 26, 2008

I Choose You, Entman!

If there's one thing I've noticed since I began graduate school and started writing more theoretically based scholarly papers, it's that certain people expect certain other people to be cited as sources in those papers. Otherwise, some scholars just will not find your work credible. Now, the required amount and diversity of citations varies by professor, but some citations are safer bets than others. Deciding who to put in your literature review is much like deciding what lineup of Pokémon to select to beat your friend's pocket monsters, especially for a generation of graduate students who grew up playing GameBoy and knowing that Squirtle might destroy Charmander, but Pikachu will have no effect on Onyx.

Some professors expect a short lit review and want you to get to your results and "so what?" section of the paper. But most of them want an extensive review of the literature, especially in a project such as a thesis. Some want you to cite them, and others just want you to read how many times they cited themselves. Others think you should cite their old graduate committee members from their alma maters. Still yet, there are the professors who think you should cite only one discipline, or perhaps the others who want you to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach. Some love one theory, while others hate it. Some want you to be quantitative while others like to keep it qualitative. The point is, you'll never figure out just exactly what your graduate faculty wants in a paper because none of them want the same things.

However, in the communication discipline, I've noticed that just the mere mentioning of some scholars' names will make professors hit the run away button, metaphorically speaking. In other words, there are some safe bets that are good to release from your Poké Ball of journal articles (EBSCO host, the biggest Poké Ball of them all).

Here's a slightly (OK, extremely) nerdy dialogue you might hear in our department:

Professor A: Well, you certainly framed that well, perhaps just like Robert Entman?
Student A: Well, actually I would look at this like a rhetorical situation, just like Bitzer!
Student B: Oh yeah? But what if I narrate about it with Fisher?
Professor A: The two of you must find a way to agree, I recommend the two-way symmetrical model by the Grunigs!
Professor B: Wait! That's preposterous and unethical! We must settle this as Burkean actors!
Student C: Ridiculous. Waggenspack would never allow it! Find a medium to get your message across.
Student A: Don't try a sneak attack with McLuhan on me, buddy! I'll counter it with Littlejohn and Foss!
Professor A: This needs to end now! Let's see if you can defeat the Kaid brigade (et. al.)!
Student B: That's no match for my Tedesco phishing attack!
***Heath, Coombs and Benoit have entered the arena, Holloway has fainted***
***Ivory and Magee are crunching numbers***
***Denton and Riley are publishing books***
***Self-citing ensues by junior faculty member +1***
***Graduate students lose sleep -4***
***Graduate students' reading abilities +200 pages***
Professor C: It is over. I have come to set all of your agendas. Media telling you what to think about, for the win! McCombs and Shaw, Chapel Hill study, gooooo!

And then the battle ended because every good communication scholar knows citing the 1972 McCombs and Shaw study is almost always a requirement.


Beamer said...

Loved this post, man. Communication scholarship would truly make the lamest video game.

rdelaude said...

LOL I have never laughed so hard at a blog post. You should put this together in a video for YouTube! Though, sadly, I think only about 12 of us in the world would get it.

JD said...

Haha, we could totally get everyone together and have them do the different parts for a video. Sounds like it would be fun to me. Could that count as an independent study? :)