The purpose of this assignment is for you to demonstrate a greater sense of depth and knowledge on a particular communication research topic. In other words, given your previous Proposal Paper, this paper asks you to review additional literature (articles) that will ultimately guide your research. In addition, this paper requires you to explain in detail how you would hypothetically conduct your research study. This paper has multiple sections. Please read them carefully and follow the instructions closely. This is a 3500-6000 word paper (plus Title Page and References). Remember, your topic must be a Communication topic!
Your paper should have the following format:
1. Introduction (do not use a heading for this section)
Here you should remind the reader (that’s me) of your particular communication topic. Open with general comments about communication, cite past research, and then lead into your thesis statement. Your introduction should answer the question, “What is the gap in research?” Your introduction should also include a preview of the major points of your paper, and a transition to your next paragraph. The introduction sets the tone for the entire paper, so make it a good one. This section is at least 2 paragraphs and about 1-2 pages.
2. Theoretical Background (Center and use Theoretical Background as a heading)
First, devote 2-4 paragraphs identifying and defining the variables you want to study. Next, you need to ground these concepts with a theory. What communication theory(ies) helps to explain/understand your research? For example, if you are studying self-disclosure, then what theory(ies) explains self-disclosure? If you are studying persuasion in advertising, then what theory(ies) explains why advertisements are persuasive? This will be challenging, though your research should uncover the answer. This is a good place to use textbooks as sources. See me if you need help figuring out which theory(ies) to use. This section is at least 2 pages.
3. Literature Review (Center and use Literature Review as a heading)
Next, in this section the paragraphs will review and summarize journal articles that justify and demonstrate your research topic. You are trying to help the reader understand past research about your topic. For each article, you should summarize their results and make a connection to your study. In addition, you can also include the methodology of the article if it is relevant. Keep in mind, the articles you cite should be relevant to your study to lead me to your Rationale. Be sure to use transitions between each paragraph. This section is typically at least 3 pages and cites at least 5 articles.
4. Rationale (Center and use Rationale as a heading)
Here, you should first summarize the articles in your Literature Review. Do not just repeat the Literature Review. Instead, critically analyze the research; try to establish patterns, relationships, strengths, and weaknesses. Where is the “gap” in the research? How did these articles get you to your hypotheses? Finally, make a statement such as, “Given past research . . .” or “Given the literature reviewed in this paper, the researcher poses the following hypotheses:” Then, list your hypotheses (you can also have research questions, but must have hypotheses). For this paper, I expect very specific, measurable hypotheses. These should follow the format we practiced in class, see the Guide to Variables and Hypotheses. This section is 2-3 pages.
5. Methodology (center and use Methodology as a heading)
The next several sections are the methods or choices you would make if you were to actually conduct your study. Remember: This is hypothetical so write in the FUTURE TENSE. This entire section is at least 3 pages.
Research Design (use as a heading on the left margin) – in this section, you are arguing which particular research design is most logical for your study. In other words, would you use an experiment, survey, or content analysis design? You need to explain and justify, given your research problem and hypotheses, why you have chosen this particular research design. Also, address details about the research design; if it is an experiment, for example, then discuss the type of experimental design.
Participants (use as a heading on the left margin) – given the above research design, in this section you should explain who or what you would study. You should be as specific as possible on the population that would be involved in your research. Explain in detail how many participants or texts would be necessary, what your sampling frame is, how you would sample the population, and how you would ensure confidentiality for the participants. You can also discuss possible demographics of the participants. Remember, this is all hypothetical, though your research should be reasonable and doable.
Procedures (use as a heading on the left margin) – next, discuss the actual procedures of the research. In other words, what would the participants do as part of your study? For example, would the participants fill out a questionnaire, report to some room, watch a video, etc.? Explain very specifically and in detail how you would go about doing the research. Look at your articles for examples!
Measurement (use as a heading on the left margin) – it is best to organize this section by variable, a paragraph for each variable. In this section, you should determine how you would measure the variables. For example, if you are using a survey design, then what questions would you ask? If you were to measure self-disclosure, for example, then you would explain and justify how to do that. If this were an experimental design, then how would you manipulate variables? You can use some published measurement scale (you can find one), or you can create your own. If you use a published measurement scale, then be sure to list past alpha reliability levels and cite the original source of the scales. Either way, you should include a complete example of your measurement in an Appendix section of your paper.
6. Results (center and use as a heading)
This section is a bit unusual for this paper. While you are not actually conducting any research and you will not have any true results, I want you to tell me which statistical tests you would use to find your results and how these statistics work. For example, would you test for differences with a t-test or some other test? Would you test for relationships with a correlation? Tell me which statistic(s) you would use to determine your hypothetical results and why based on the hypotheses of your study. Section is 1-2 pages.
7. Discussion (center and use as a heading)
Here you should first remind the reader of the purpose of this paper. Then, explain the possible results of your hypothetical study, and how these results might contribute to the communication discipline. How would your hypotheses turn out? Next, address limitations of your study. Finally, end your paper with possible suggestions for future research and the need to do this research. Don’t forget the importance of a solid conclusion. This section is 2-4 pages.