Fall 2005

Preliminary course syllabus    

Classroom 212 SCILS bldg.

Hartmut Mokros (Communication)
Office: rm. 332, SCILS bldg.
Office hours: By appointment and drop in
(732)932-7500/Ext 8121
Home page: http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~mokros/

Tefko Saracevic (Library and Information Science)
Office: rm. 316, SCILS bldg.
Office hours: Tue. 1-3 pm; Wed 4-6 pm

(732)932-7500/Ext 8222

Email: tefko@scils.rutgers.edu

Home page: http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~tefko

Linda Steiner (Journalism and Media Studies)
Office: rm. 201, DeWitt bldg
Office hours: appointment
(732)932-7500/Ext 8235


This seminar focuses on the nature of information, communication and media processes, through an examination of their roles in individual, social, and institutional contexts and interactions. The primary means of exposition are critique and synthesis of basic problems addressed in these fields' bodies of literature, which overlap considerably among themselves, as well as with other areas in the humanities and social sciences.

Goals and Objectives

Our goal is to provide introduction into scholarly approaches and debate about problems, theory and method in research of communication, information and media as phenomena of general interest in the social sciences and humanities, as distinct fields of study within the social sciences, and as areas of concentration within our doctoral program.

    The objectives are to:
  1. to make apparent the relevance of communication, information and media scholarship with respect to critical problems within contemporary social practice and social thought;
  2. to identify the common and unique aspects of focus within communication, information and media scholarship and how these relate to enduring problems within the social and human sciences;
  3. to introduce formative conceptualizations and understandings of communication, information and media; and
  4. to provide an overview of the foci of scholarly interest and expertise in the study of communication, information and media problems among program faculty.

Course approach

The course consists of:

  1. Lectures: by course instructors or guest lecturers. The topics of lectures are provided in the course outline and schedule. A detailed description of topics covered in each lecture can be found in the syllabus, or a description and handouts will be provided at the lecture.

  2. Discussion: each student (or student groups) is expected to participate in discussions and critical observations either during the lectures or during set discussion periods that particularly relate to analysis of various topics, questions, or readings.

  3. Course readings: Required and suggested readings are on reserve at the graduate reserve desk in the Alexander Library. All required readings are accessible through electronic reserve. Generally between two and four required readings are assigned each week, to be studied carefully, prior to the date when they are discussed in class.
    In addition, suggested readings will be cited throughout the semester and will placed on graduate reserve when possible. These readings will complement and extend our in-class discussions of course topics and required readings. Students also will be expected to read current and foundational sources in their fields -- and to develop bibliographies for future reference. Suggested readings should minimally be incorporated into a student's bibliography on a topic and indexed in a useful manner according to disciplinary conventions and personal utility.

  4. Written papers and term paper: as decribed in the next section


The course is organized into four multi-week sections during weeks 1-12. The final two weeks will first attempt synthesis across topics discussed in week 13, and conclude in week 14 with brief presentations of term projects by students in the course.

1. Introduction & Overview (Weeks 1-3)
The first three weeks are devoted to (1) Course Introduction the first week, and, (2) two-week Overview of Communication, Information and Media Scholarship as situated within the broad framework of scholarly focus and academic debate within the social and human sciences.

2. Three Program Area Overviews (Weeks 4-12)
The next three sections, each three weeks in length, are devoted to scholarly foundations and research focus within each of the three areas of the Ph.D. Program. The goal of each section is to introduce formative conceptualizations and issues for each of these areas.

Mokros will lead the Communication Processes Overview during weeks 4-6;
Steiner will lead the Media Studies Overview in weeks 7-9; and,
Saracevic will lead the Library and Information Science Overview during weeks 10-13. (Week 12 is Thanksgiving).

The final week of each area overview section is linked to the PhD Colloquium. Each colloquium will feature critical discussion of cutting edge research issues by three faculty members from the specific area being discussed. The goals of these colloquia are to expose students to the kinds of scholarly interests pursued by faculty in each of the three areas, and to offer a forum for scholarly discussion and debate, among the presenters, and with students in this class and other students and faculty from the program in attendance. The course instructor conducting the area overview will serve as the moderator for the specific colloquium linked to the area. The colloquium dates, areas and moderators are:

Date Area Moderator:
October 12, 2005 Communication Processes, Mokros
November 2, 2005 Media Studies, Steiner
November 30, 2005 Library and Information Science, Saracevic

Each invited faculty member participating will be asked to provide one reading prior to the colloquium and these will be distributed to students the week before. Students are expected to read all three readings distributed and prepare weekly summaries prior to each colloquium.

3. Synthesis (Week 13)
The instructors will present a synthesis of topics and ideas introduced during the course of the semester.

4. Student Presentations (Week 14)
Students will offer brief presentations of their term projects the final week.


Each student is required to attend class on a regular basis, to complete assigned readings prior to each class session, to actively participate in disucssions, and to complete the following written assigments:

  1. Statement of Research Problem of Interest to the Student (1 page maximum)
  2. Weekly summary write-ups of all readings assigned for that week.
  3. Term paper (15 pages maximum) developed from student's initial Statement of a Research Problem of Interest. Brief presentations of these term papers are scheduled for the last class session. These papers require a review of relevant literature in scholarly journals and other publications.

Written Assignments: Description & Due Date

1. Statement of Research Problem of Interest to the Student
Due: September 14, 2005

Prepare a one page statement of a research problem, why this problem interests you, why you think this problem is worthy of scholarly study, and who among the program faculty conducts research related to this problem. Be as clear and succinct as possible.

The goals of this assignment are to identify a topic for the term paper and to consider how that topic relates to existing interests among faculty in program.

This assignment will not be graded. The instructors will offer feedback on each student's research problem and attempt to connect the range and specific focus of problems students' identify to readings and discussions throughout the semester.

2. Weekly Summaries of Assigned Readings
Due: Week that required readings are discussed as per assignment number in schedule

The narrative style of the summary is left to the student. Weekly summaries should include full citations for each reading assigned, a brief synopsis of each reading, and critical engagement with each week's readings as a set. The goal of these weekly summaries is for students to develop the ability to develop a systematic approach for reviewing scholarly literature. This includes the development of a permanent bibliography, brief summaries of readings that are useful as references in the future, and critical perspective on the strengths and limitations, commonalities and differences encountered across readings related to a common topic.

Summaries are not intended to be mere abstracts. In other words, think about the reading, assess the major theme(s), and provide your own interpretations and thoughts beyond a mere abstract. Analyze don't just plain recapitulate! The more you incorporate your own remarks the higher the grade! Thus, the emphasis is not on the summary by and for itself but on critical evaluation and/or drawing of relations. Higher grades in summaries relate to the extent to which contents are critically evaluated or to which relations are drawn, and not to mere repetitions of contents.

Each weekly summary must be completed on time. No extensions will be allowed.

Each summary is scored using a numerical grade as described below to assess each of 5 dimensions:

  1. Clarity of Writing/Grammar/Spelling.
  2. Organization & Parsimony (Getting to the Point)/Citations & Quotations Appropriate.
  3. Answers the Question in an Accurate, Compelling and Thorough Manner.
  4. Discusses & Refers to Individual Readings Accurately, Clearly and Productively.
  5. Demonstrates the Ability to Compare, Contrast and Critique across Readings

Weekly Summary Write-up assignments make up 60% of each student's final grade. Grades for each weekly assignment for each student are first summed in computing each student's grade across assignments.

3. Term Paper (15 pages maximum)
Term paper is developed from the initial statement of a research problem of interest to each student (Submitted September 14th). The Term Paper aims: (1) to have students conduct an in-depth review of literature on a topic of interest to them, and (2) to develop meaningful connections with members of the faculty whose expertise links to their topic of interest. That is to say,

  1. the focus of the paper should be a review of literature about the topic of interest. The outcome of this review should be a systematic summary of the merits of the problem, how it has been approached (theoretically and methodologically), and a clear appreciation of the current status of scholarly interest in the problem identified;
  2. each student should discuss their stated research problem with at least one faculty member at SCILS to seek advice about the merits of the research problem identified and suggestions of relevant literature related to the topic.

Grades on the term paper account for the 40% of the final course grade. Term paper grades are based on each student's written paper and in-class presentation during the final class meeting (December 14, 2005).


All written assigments according to the format specified in the Style Manual of the American Psychological Association:

American Psychological Association (APA) (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: APA. See: http://www.apastyle.org/pubmanual.html

It is strongly suggested that all students purchase this book. The Manual can be obtained from Rutgers and other bookstores or ordered online. It serves as a manual for other Ph.D. courses and the dissertation, thus it is a valuable tool above and beyond this course. In addition to providing standards for formats, references and citations, the Manual also provides useful suggestions for writing and organizing of reports and articles.


Course grades are assigned according to The Graduate School-New Brunswick policy (see SCILS Catalog at http://ruweb.rutgers.edu/catalogs/scils.shtml):

We will use numerical grades - easier to average and summarize. Summaries and essays account for 60% of final grade and Term Paper for 40%.

The Ph.D. Program in Communication, Information and Library Studies, allows no more than than 6 credits of C course grades and no more than 9 credits of C or C+ course grades to count toward the Course Credit Requirement established by the program. Incomplete work may be made up, and a change of grade may be authorized by the instructor, within any period agreed to by the instructor and the student up to two additional terms beyond the original course registration, excluding summer session.  


The Rutgers Policy on Academic Integrity is spelled out in detail at http://cat.rutgers.edu/integrity/policy.html. In this course we will strictly adhere to this policy. Please consult it. If you have any questions please bring them up. You may also wish to consult Student Responsibility at http://cat.rutgers.edu/integrity/student.html and Faculty Responsibility at http://cat.rutgers.edu/integrity/faculty.html.

Plagiarism? Just don't. Turnitin, a site for prevention of plagiarism is at http://www.turnitin.com/static/home.html. It is informative and useful.

Course schedule (see also separate table Schedule for Fall 2005)


Week 1, Sept 7 2005: INTRODUCTION (Mokros, Saracevic & Solomon)

Assignments Distributed: Instructions for Preparing Student Research Problem Statements Distributed, Due Sept 14.

Week 2, Sept 14: OVERVIEW (Mokros, Saracevic & Steiner)
Phenomena; Cultural, Social & Historical Context; and, Social Role of Communication, Information & Media Scholarship

Assignments Due: Research Problem Statement. Weekly Summary 1
Required Readings: Buckland (1991), McMurtry (2002), Sapir (1949).

Week 3, Sept 21: OVERVIEW II (Mokros, Saracevic & Steiner)
Influence of the physical sciences, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities on research problems and approaches to communication, information & library, and media; and Prominent contemporary approaches to data, method & theory.
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 2
Required Readings: Boyd (1996), D'Andrade (1986), Said (1993).

Week 4, Sept 28: COM I (Mokros)
The history of communication as a discipline and as an idea(l). Communication problems and their links to axial, epistemological and ontological assumptions about optimal, competent, dysfunctional processes and outcomes.
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 3
Required Readings: Toulmin (2001), Delia (1987), Peters (1999).

Week 5, Oct 5: COM II (Mokros)
Communication as Constitutive: Generative Process, Disciplinary Discussion Space, and Critical Stance
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 4
Required Readings: Bateson (1996), Craig (1999), Deetz (1994).

Week 6, Oct 12: COM III (Mokros Moderator):
Communication Processes Area Colloquium
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 5
Required Readings: TBA

Week 7, Oct 19: MEDIA I (Steiner)
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 6
Required Readings: Gitlin (1978). Hall (1992).

Week 8, Oct 26: MEDIA II (Steiner)
Political Economy
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 7
Required Readings: Schiller & Mosco (2001), McChesney (2000), Bratich, J. (2004).

Week 9, Nov 2:MEDIA III (Steiner Moderator):
Media Studies Area Colloquium
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 8
Required Readings:

Week 10, Nov 9: LIS I (Saracevic)

Information science - evolution, structure
Assignments Due: Critical Essay 3. Weekly Summary 9
Required Readings: Bush (1945), Saracevic (1999), Brooks (1980).

Week 11, Nov 9: LIS II (Saracevic)
- role up to digital libraries; LIS theoretical base
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 10
Required Readings: Shera (1970), Shera (1972), Pettigrew & McKechnie (2001).

Week 12, Nov 23: No Class Thanksgiving Week

Week 13, Nov 30: LIS III (Saracevic Moderator)
Library and Information Science Area Colloquium
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 11
Required Readings: TBA

Week 14, Dec 7: Synthesis (Mokros, Saracevic, Steiner)
Assignments Due: Weekly Summary 12

Week 15, Dec 14: Student term paper presentations
Assignments Due: Term paper




Boyd, R. W. (1996). The History and Historiography of Information Science; Some Reflections. Information Processing & Management, 32 (1), 3-17.

Buckland, M. (1991). Information and Information Systems. New York: Preaeger, Chapters 1,4, 5, & 6.

D'Andrade, R. (1986). Three scientific world views and the covering law. In D.W. Fiske & R.A. Shweder (Eds.), Metatheory in social science: Pluralisms and subjectivities,. (pp. 19-41). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McMurtry, J. (2002). Preface (pp. xii-xxv). In Value wars: The global market versus the life economy. Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.

Said, E. W. (1993). The Politics of knowledge. In C. McCarthy & W. Crichlow (Eds.), Race, identity and representation in education. (pp. 306-314). New York: Routledge.

Sapir, E. (1949). Communication. In Selected writings of Edward Sapir in language, culture, and personality, Edited by D.G. Mandelbaum. (pp. ). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.


Bratich, J. (2004). Trust no one (on the Internet). Television & New Media, 5, 109-139.

Gitlin, T. (1978). Media sociology: The dominant paradigm. Theory and Society, 6, 205-253.

Hall, S. (1992). Encoding/Decoding In C. Hall, D. Hobson, A. Lowe, & P. Willis (Eds.) Culture, media, language (pp. 128-138). New York: Routledge.

McChesney, R.W. (2000). So much for the magic of technology and the free market. In The World wide web and contemporary cultural theory, (pp. 5-35). A. Herman & T. Swiss (Eds.) New York: Routledge.

McMurtry, J. (2002). Preface (pp. xii-xxv). In Value wars: The global market versus the life economy. Sterling, VA: Pluto Press.

Said, E. W. (1993). The Politics of knowledge. In C. McCarthy & W. Crichlow (Eds.), Race, identity and representation in education. (pp. 306-314). New York: Routledge.

Schiller, D., & Mosco, V. (2001). Introduction: Integrating a continent for a transnational world. In Continental order? Integrating North America for cybercapitalism, (pp. 1-34). New York: Rowman & Littlefield.


Bateson, G. (1996). Communication. In H.B. Mokros (Ed.). (1996). Interaction and identity: Information and behavior, volume 5, (pp. 45-70). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Craig, R.T. (1999). Communication theory as a field. Communication theory, 9, 119-161.

Delia, J, (1987). Communication research: A history. In C. Berger & S. Chafee, Handbook of communication science. (pp. ). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Deetz, S.A. (1994). Future of the discipline: The challenges, the research, and the social contribution. In S.A. Deetz (Ed.), Communication yearbook 17 (pp. 565-600). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Peters, J.D. (1999). Speaking into the air: A history of the idea of communication. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Toulmin, S. (2000).


Brooks, B.C. (1980). The foundations of information science. Part I. Philosophical aspects. Journal of Information Science, 2: 125-133.

Bush, V. (1945). As We May Think. Atlantic Monthly, 176, (11), 101-108. Available: http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/flashbks/computer/bushf.htm

Saracevic, T. (1999). Information Science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50 (9) 1051-1063

Shera, J. H. (1970). Sociological Foundations of Librarianship. Washington, D.C.: ASIS Publishing, 52-110. [On reserve]

Shera, Jesse. (1972). The Foundations of Education for Librarianship. Wiley, 81-108. [On reserve]


Pettigrew, K.E. & McKechnie, L. (2001). The Use of Theory in Information Science Research. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 52 (1), 62-73.



Austin, J.L. (1962). How to do things with words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1981). The dialogic imagination. Austin, TX: University of Texas.

Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Doubleday.

Carbaugh, D. (1996). Situating selves: The communication of social identities in American scenes. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Cronen, V.E. (1995). Coordinated management of meaning: The consequentiality of communication and the recapturing of experience. In S.J. Sigman (Ed.), The consequentiality of communication (pp. 17-66). Hillsdale, NJ: Earlbaum.

Geertz, C. (1973). The interpretation of culture. New York: Basic Books.

Giddens, A. (1992). The transformation of intimacy. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-To-Face Behavior. Garden City, NY: Anchor.

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Anchor.

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Gergen, K.J. (1994). Realities and relationships: Soundings in social construction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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Mokros, H.B. & Deetz, S. (1996). What counts as real? A constitutive view of communication and the disenfranchised in the context of health. In E.B. Ray (Ed.), Communication and the disenfranchised: Social health issues and implications, (29-44). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Mokros, H.B., Mullins, L., & Saracevic, T. (1995). Practice and personhood in professional interaction: Social identities and information needs. Library and Information Science Research, 17, 237-258.

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Sigman, S.J. (Ed.). (1995). The consequentiality of communication. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1958). Philosophical investigations. New York: Macmillan.


Belew, R. K. (2000) Finding Out About: A Cognitive Perspective on Search Engine Technology and the WWW. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press. Available on G. Muresan website: http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~muresan/614_IR/Resources/OnlineBooks/Belew_FOA/contents.htm

Belkin, N. J. (1990). The cognitive viewpoint in information science. Journal of Information Science, 16, 11-15.

Brooks, B. C. (1980-81). The foundations of information science. Part IV. Information `science: the changing paradigm. Journal of Information Science, 3, 3-12.

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last update 26 Sept 2005 Tefko Saracevic