Higher education research

Compared to other disciplines such as German language and literature studies or psychology, communication science is a relatively young discipline. Both, the sheer amount of names that are associated to courses of studies in the field of communication science as well as the diverse curricula are sign that so far there is no agreement about what communication science is. The debat of self-image initiated by the German Communication Association (DGPuK) in 2006 shows the exisiting need of discussion in the German speaking community. Discussed are not only matters of content and the role of empirical research (Wirth, 2005) but also how both should be implemented into the curriculum (DGPuK, 2004; Wirth, 2000). The reason for this discussion can be found in the effort to harmonize important areas of the field and to define essential topics which represent a canon of communication science. In doing so, it is aimed at a professionalization of the field of communication science. Such professionalization is particularly visible throughout activities of the scientific staff at the universities. Besides full professors also post-docs and PhD-students are included. However, so far we do not know much about the latter two groups - at least when the focus is on communication departments (cf. Fröhlich & Holtz-Bacha, 1993a, b, 1995). This lack does not cope with the issue's relevance at all. For the support of post-docs and PhDs is essential for their scientific career and therewith for quality assurance and professionalization of the whole field of communication science. Post-docs also set standards for criteria which are regarded as central for applying for a professorship by the amount and quality of their teachings, research, conference presentations, and publications. Therewith, they also contribute to the debate of self-image and professionalization of the field of communication science. Accordingly, the field of higher education research deals with issues of the form and content of communication science as well as the education and promotion of post-docs and PhDs.