We’re Busy with Politics, PR and “Party-Crazy” Students

The Communication Department faculty continue to work at a frenetic pace. It’s hard to track down all that happens around here, but check out the latest updates:

  • Dr. Lindsay Hoffman and Ralph Begleiter, both COMM faculty and part of UD’s new Center for Political Communication, put their talents to work investigating hot-topics and hot tempers about politics.  It’s part of a new public opinion poll studying how technology has changed people’s interactions with government and politicians.
  • Some alumni may remember taking a news documentary course and late night hours editing and re-editing.  Dr. Lydia Timmins, in her second year at UD, now sheppards students through the course. Her students’ work caught the attention of WHYY-TV this week because of their innovative investigation into student “apathy”.


  • Public Relations professor Carolyn White Bartoo ended up at her own “summer internship” with one of the largest PR agencies in the world, Ketchum (Chicago office). Ketchum’s top leadership hosted her as part of a national fellowship program for university faculty to get “back in the trenches” for two weeks and get up to speed with how today’s practicioners work with social media, online research, and today’s economic realities. Check out her blog or tweets @CaroBar2 for young PR professonals.



UD-COMM’s own Dr. Scott Caplan Hits a “Home Run” Looking into Video Gamers


Dr. Scott Caplan

In academia, it’s all about the numbers. And in this case, Dr. Scott Caplan moved into the top ranks of his field recently when his super-popular scholarly article on stereotypes surrounding  people who play video games, or “gamers”, became the most used article on this topic in the country.

This is like winning the World Series and reaching the top level of Super Mario Brothers at the once  . . . if you’re a professor.

Caplan’s article is the top-cited article for 2010 of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.  Originally published in 2008, it’s  been cited 12 times in 2010 and has been cited 22 times to date.

Caplan coauthored the article with Dmitri Williams, of the University of Southern California, and
Nick Yee, of the Palo Alto Research Center. Their abstract follows:

“Online games have exploded in popularity, but for many researchers access to players has
been difficult. The study reported here is the first to collect a combination of survey and
behavioral data with the cooperation of a major virtual world operator. In the current study,
7,000 players of the massively multiplayer online game (MMO) EverQuest 2 were surveyed
about their offline characteristics, their motivations and their physical and mental health.”

Just in Time for the World Series: UD Communication Professor Puts Pitching (and the rest of baseball) in its Place

Dr. Charlie Pavitt, decoding baseball

Dr. Charles Pavitt uses statistical analysis to debunk the old adage “Pitching is 75% of the Game”

Dr. Charles (Charlie) Pavitt is known around the Communication Department (COMM) at the University of Delaware as a “stats guy” having taught the research methods course all undergraduate COMM majors must take to get into the major, COMM 301 (Introduction to Communication Research Methods), for more than a decade.  Recently, Pavitt was up to his old trick of finding interesting ways to view statistical problems – this time it took the form of baseball analysis. 

The on-line only Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, Volume 7, Number 4 will feature Pavitt’s article: An Estimate of How Hitting, Pitching, Fielding, and Base-stealing Impact Team Winning Percentages in Baseball.  With this, Pavitt manages to define the perfect “formula” for MLB teams to use to build the ultimate winning team. Turns out, it’s NOT all about pitching.

“There’s an old adage about baseball that ‘pitching is 75% of the game’.  But actually it’s only about 25% of the game, according to my study,” says Pavitt, with a wry grin.

Pavitt wanted to look past all the smoke and mirrors that distracts analysts, and dig deep into the statistics to clarify what makes the strongest teams win. To do that, he crunched hitting, pitching, fielding and base-stealing records for every MLB team over a 48-year period from 1951 through 1998 with a method no other researcher has yet to use in this area. In statistical parlance he used a conceptual decomposition of offense and defense into its component parts and then analyzed recombinations of the parts in intuitively meaningful ways.


In the end, he found something baseball researchers know but many MLB team don’t: the ability to steal bases is just not that important to the overall win-record of a professional baseball team. What is? Pavitt found that hitting accounts for more than 45% of teams’ winning records, fielding for 25% and pitching for 25%


So as the boys of summer gear up for the World Series games in the next few weeks, perhaps their managers will look to Dr. Charlie Pavitt for a few tips on fielding a future baseball dynasty.  Seems like he’s got the secret formulation.