In communication research, attempts to enhance external validity usually focus on techniques to enhance the surface representativeness attained in a particular study. Such surface representativeness is a useful tool. However, a larger ability to generalize emerges from a constantly evolving scientific discourse across multiple studies about how social meanings and social behaviors impact outcomes. The resulting conceptual knowledge enables us to generalize about communication across a much wider range of persons, settings, times, and messages than does surface similarity. The findings of a study should be examined in light of its contribution to theory. The surface representativeness of a study is usually not a good indicator of contribution to theory. The discipline of communication, particularly journal editors and reviewers, bears a heavy responsibility to think about generalizability in the complex ways the topic requires.