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COMM U375 - Communication Research Methods: Assignment

A Course Guide for all sections of Communication Research Methods: COMM U375


Research Project – This project requires you to

(1) find a topic of interest or issue of concern;

(2) review academic communication research on your topic/issue;

(3) develop a research question;

(4) identify the best method to study your topic/issue and question(s);

(5) and state how you will conduct your research;

(6) combine all steps into one paper.

This project is a proposal for research. You will not actually carry out the study. The research project consists of 6 elements or components of the research process. You will receive a separate grade, and if necessary feedback for revisions for your final paper. These assignments will culminate in a 7-10 page research paper (page count does not include reference pages) on your topic of interest. Group papers will be 9-14 pages in length. The final research paper will include your purpose (introduction), literature review, research questions, a methods section, and a conclusion. At the end of the semester you will formally present your project to the class.

Research Project Elements/Components:

Topic of interest: Brainstorm ideas and find a topic that you are passionate about.  Explain why this topic is important for you and should be of interests to others. Situate yourself in the research.

Reference List – you will select a topic of interest and review research by communication scholars. You must develop a reference list of the research you will discuss in your literature review. Your reference list must include at least 10 peer reviewed communication journal articles or (approved) book chapters or books. Group papers must include a minimum of 16 peer reviewed communication journal articles. You will resubmit your reference list—including all of the literature you actually discuss in your paper—with your final research proposal.

Outline – You will submit an outline of your research project. Your outline must include an introduction, body, and conclusion. 

  • Introduction: Briefly introduce your topic. State your thesis. Preview the main points/ideas you will discuss. Let me know what I can expect to read and the order in which your discussion will proceed.
  • Body: Identify key points of interest that support your thesis/argument.
  • Conclusion:  Restate thesis and key concepts you will discuss in your review.

Literature Review – Use your outline to write your literature review. A formal literature review involves examining peer reviewed academic research (scholarly journal articles and/or book chapters) on a topic of interest. A literature review is not just a summary of everything you read. It is a critical analysis of the available literature in a given area of study and/or topic. A literature review addresses a research objective or problem by asking questions of the work at hand. What is the author studying? What is the context of the study? What is the author’s key argument? What new concepts, theoretical approaches, and/or ways of studying the issue does this study provide? How is this research different or similar to other projects in the discipline? What assumptions is the author making? How can you contribute to the existing research? See page 10 in the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide. The literature review is 4-5 pages and 6-7 pages for group papers.

Theory Paper – Write a paragraph (150-200 words) identifying a theory, the major tenets of the theory, and why it is the best analytical lens to study/answer your RQ.

Method and Procedures Plan – write 1-2 pages addressing the following criteria.

  • Proposed Research Topic: provide a brief description of your topic, your title, and your research question(s). Explain why this topic is important to you and why it should be of interests to others.
  • Purpose:Describe what you hope to accomplish, and the desired outcomes (especially the practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)
  • Context: Describe the context of the proposed research
  • Specify your method and explain why this is the best approach for your project.
  • Briefly identify and explain the theoretical framework you will use to guide your investigation and explain how it fits your purpose and research methods
  • Describe in detail the steps you will take in attempting to answer your research question

    Final Research Paper - Integrate all elements of your project into one paper. This paper should reflect revisions based on the feedback you received on earlier elements/components of the research project. You must also re-submit previously graded elements (your assignments with my feedback). Your paper must include an introduction, literature review, refined research question, a proposed method for analysis, and a conclusion. You must also include a revised reference list of all works cited in your paper. The method section of your paper must be written in essay format. Do not simply insert your method and procedures plan. You will more than likely review more research than you will actually use in your paper. Your final reference list must include the research you actually discuss and reference in your final paper.

    Research Presentation – You will present key elements of your research paper to the class. This is a formal research presentation. Use power point or equivalent. Avoid using non-academic information/sources and language. Given the size of the class, your presentation must be concisely presented in 10-minutes. You will receive a 1-point deduction for every minute over the time limitation.