The following are links to examples of three main kinds of primary research studies in the field of communication: qualitative, quantitative, and rhetorical critical studies. Examine the abstracts of these studies (or the studies themselves). They share a "common" topic - parent communication - yet they are examples of the three different types of communication research studies.
Rhetorical Analysis - a range of academic perspectives on the interpretation of social reality and meaning-making, distinguished from scientific positivism by a focus on understanding rather than prediction and explanation, on contingency rather than universal laws, and on reflexivity rather than objectivism. It includes phenomenological and hermeneutic approaches, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, social constructionism, and social semiotics.
Qualitative Research Study - qualitative communication studies focus on the behavior of people and why they think and behave in particular ways. A study is constructed to examine a group of participants which is carefully selected (and described) to be representative of the group being studied. Texts of various sorts may well be studied (such as interviews or survey results) in order to understand particular behavior.
Quantitative Research Study - quantitative communication studies focus on understanding why people behave in particular ways. Studies are constructed to try and determine cause and effect relationships between particular variables. Samples of participants are randomized with the goal to find variables that show statistically significant causes and effects.