A Quantitative Analysis of Doctoral Dissertation of Communication in Mainland China


Doctoral dissertation usually represents the research frontier and high level in related fields. Since Fudan University and Renmin University of China were granted the right to confer doctor's degree in communication (Wang 2018) in 1998, 28 first-class discipline doctoral programs in communication have been established. Over the past 20 years, great achievements have been made in the professional education of communication in China, both in quantity and quality. So far, with the development of the need of educators and students, there is still a lack of systematic and scientific carding of the experiences and lessons.

This study reviews the doctoral dissertations of communication in mainland China from 2002 to 2018 (n = 486) by quantitative content analysis. The coding scheme composed of five categories, including theme、methodology、content、theoretical basis and social recognition analysis, and 16 subcategory variables are mainly based on Bryant et al. (2004) and localized according to some Chinese scholars.After the dissertations are encoded, SPSS, Excel, Antconc and CiteSpace are used for comprehensive analysis.

The result shows that there is a wide range of the research interests with low degree of homogeneity, but the depth and density of the researches need to be improved which is not rooted in the theoretical ground. Many authors regard the theoretical basis as 'decoration' and hide it in their work which makes the research design a 'castle in the air'. Secondly, the dissertations of communication have presented a relatively clear methodology, namely quantitative empirical research. According to the research on the doctoral dissertations of journalism in mainland China (Wu 2014), a clear distinction in the paradigm can be found that journalism with emphasis on qualitative research and communication with bias on quantitative research. Some university has begun to form its own research characteristics. Furthermore,from the perspective of research content, the dissertations are mainly about mass communication and drop more attention to the '5W'. But, except for mass communication and computer mediated communication, the concern of other communication types is only 13%. Third, due to the limitation of the development of communication theory and the complexity of social reality, the authors discussed more about the phenomenon and less to explore the law behind it.