Albert David Talbott Ph.D., the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity’s (ISSSS)’ second president and a professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, died recently following a lengthy illness.
Dr. Talbott joined his mentor and friend Malcolm S. MacLean Jr. Ph.D. after he became director of the Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the 1960s. Dr. Talbott remained on the Iowa faculty until his retirement in 2002.
A Scottsbluff, Nebraska native, Talbott specialized in quantitative and mixed methods and their applications in mass communication research. Talbott especially liked teaching and conducting research using Q methodology, a mixed social science method that assesses attitudes and beliefs. Q methodology remains widely used in a variety of disciplines internationally; the field is represented today by ISSSS (of which Talbott was a founding member) and its website, qmethod.org
Talbott was introduced to Q method by MacLean in the 1960s. During this period, Talbott developed the Q-Block technique of indexing factors to large samples. However, Talbott’s interest flourished after he and MacLean became friends with William Stephenson Ph.D., the founder of Q methodology. Eventually, Stephenson joined Talbott to teach several seminars in social science methods at the University of Iowa between 1974-1977.
During the last quarter of the 20th century, Talbott taught Issues and Concepts, one of the most popular and foundational seminars for Iowa mass communication students. Issues and Concepts focused on mass communication theory and research and took a multidimensional approach to learning and scholarship.
Talbott also became an authority on how journalists are portrayed in popular media. He maintained a significant collection of fiction and non-fiction movies and television shows that depict journalistic practice.
Talbott’s diverse interests attracted many graduate M.A. and Ph.D. students to work with him. While the Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication does not keep an official record of comparative faculty service on thesis and dissertation committees, Dr. Talbott’s aggregate, graduate advisee list unquestionably set a gold standard of teaching and service.
In June 2008, Dr. Talbott received the honoris causa degree from the Federal University of Piaui in Brazil where the donation of his academic library remains housed. The translation of a plaque accompanying the collection reads:
Albert David Talbott.
Prof. Dr. Emeritus, University of Iowa
“He gave us a place to grow.”
(Followed by a listing of the names of his 16 doctoral students)
In conjunction with the award, a special 2008 seminar in Dr. Talbott’s honor attracted Q researchers from Brazil, Venezuela, and the United States.
Dr. Talbott was preceded in death by his former spouse, Rose, and his son, David. He is survived by two grandchildren.
Al will long be remembered for his unsurpassed collegiality, intellectual depth, even tempered demeanor, and hearty laugh.
Rob Logan, Will Norton and Mike Stricklin