One of the most prestigious academic associations in the field of communication is the International Communication Association (ICA). Each year when the association convenes, awards are given out to professionals for their work and contributions to the field. In 2024, and every even-numbered year after that, a new award will be given to someone for scholarship regarding research methods.
In October 2022, the Information Systems Division of ICA approved the Edward L. Fink Research Methods Award in honor of long-time member of the division and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Media and Communication Edward L. Fink.
Fink, a fellow of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, joined Klein College of Media and Communication in 2015 after teaching several data analysis and persuasion courses at other universities. Though his degrees are in sociology, Fink brings his expertise to schools of communication and associations like ICA in order to introduce scientific practices to other students and scholars.
Now, Fink’s impact in research innovation will be a part of ICA as other scholars follow in his footsteps.
After a summer of traveling with his wife, Senior Associate Dean and Professor Deborah Cai, a friend and former student of Fink’s emailed him after attending the 2022 ICA Conference in Paris. It was then that Fink was told that the Information Systems Division was talking about creating a new award, and that many members of the division wanted to name it after him.
Creating a new award requires changes in the by-laws of the division and a vote, but after all the votes were counted, the award was approved.
“You get an award named after you when you’ve had a very distinguished career that others want to hold up,” Cai said. Cai and Fink have published several papers together, and Cai noted that their different areas of expertise complement one another nicely. Often, when they are walking their dogs, one of them will start formulating an idea, and the other will jump right in and start thinking of ways they can explore it.
Fink has also written several works with Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo Joseph Woelfel. Woelfel noted that not only is Fink good at using research methods, but he has actually created some of the most important methods that are used today.
“It’s a recognition that he deserves because he’s had a tremendous influence on the methodology of the field. No question about that,” Woelfel said.
Fink first got involved at ICA when he was a professor at Michigan State University. He appreciated the chance to learn more about communication and has submitted several papers across many divisions, including Information Systems, Interpersonal Communication and Organizational Communication.
“I learned about the people there, met the people there, and some of the people [whom] I met who weren’t from my school are people that I still know now,” Fink said.
Fink has also received many distinguished article awards and two other recognitions from ICA. In 2014, he was named a fellow of the association – a very distinguished recognition. In 2003, he received the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award, recognizing him for the countless graduate students he has mentored and advised.
“He’s very rigorous. He doesn’t let you escape without your very best work,” Woelfel said.