Communication Subject –RESEARCH PAPER

Communication Subject –RESEARCH PAPER

RESEARCH PROJECT AND PAPER
The goal of the project and paper is for you: 1) to experience in groups the process of
reviewing the literature
and designing and conducting your own study, and
2) to learn individually to
write a research report and
critically evaluate strengths and weaknesses of research methods based on the experience with your study.
OVERVIEW
You will work in a small group (3

4 people) to design and conduct a simple study about a
communication topic (some example topics t
hat would be suited to a simple study
appear
on GauchoSpace
).
You will decide as a group which topic to study and whether it would be appropriate to conduct a
survey
or
an
experiment
to investigate your topic.
You and your group members (with some
guid
ance
from your TA) will together research the
literature, propose hypotheses/research questions, select a design, construct measures, and collect and
analyze data. You will then, ON YOUR OWN, write a 7

8 page paper describing what your study was, what
t
he findings were, and what were the methodological strengths and weaknesses.
SPECIFICS
Part I

The Project:
WITH YOUR GROUP, you must do the following:
Step 1) Find
at least two empirical studies
in academic journals that will provide you with some
background
on your topic and that will help you develop
the hypotheses and research questions
for your study.
EVERY topic has relevant literature to find (if you find none, you’ll need either to switch topics or be
more creative in your use of the studies
that are there!)
Step 2) Develop
at least
two hypothese
s
(i.e., two different predictions, involving different variables)
that
you
will attempt to test
in
your study. Your hypotheses
MUST be based on the
literature (i.e., the
e
mpirical studies that you
find!).
In other words,
you must
provide j
ustification
from the scientific
literature
for what you are predicting! You may also include a
research question
for some additional
variables that you wo
uld like to include/investigate as part of your study.
Step 3) Develop a
research design
that helps you
test
your hypothesis (i.e., a survey
or experiment).

Steps 2 & 3 may be done
simultaneously, as
your design should be guided by the hypotheses you
would like to test. Some designs are better suited to certain questions/hypotheses than are others.
For example, if you want to examine
the relationship between texting and relationship closeness, a
surv
ey might be appropriate
, whereas if you want to know the
effects
of
texting on perceptions of
relational messages
, you would most likely conduct an experiment.
Step 4) Construct
measurement instrument
s
(
e.g., questionnaire items
) and
gather other materia
ls
you will
need (e.g., experimental manipulations,
stimulus videos
, etc.). When deciding how to construct your
measures, remember to consider how you will later
analyze
them (i.e., how will you know if you
r
hypothesis was supported or not?).
Step 5)
Co
llect data
.
Much of this
can
be done mid

quarter during your discussion section, as
many of
you
will
serve as each other’s subjects, filling out each other’s surveys and participating in each other’s
experiments. This means that you will need to bring cop
ies of your surveys and questionnaires,
etc., to the relevant sections in order to collect data. Often it is also necessary to collect data
outside
of section, particularly for those studies that need more male subjects or non

student
populations. REMEMB
ER TO FOLL
OW THE “RULES FOR 88 PROJECTS” document
!!
Step 6)
Compile data and interpret results
. You are encouraged to analyze your data statistically (i.e., see if
your data produce significant differences between group means or significant
correlations
between
variables). However, you are
not required
to use statistics (i.e
.
, you may “eyeball” your data in order
to compare means, etc.). Your TA will
help you identify
what type of analysis is appropriate for your
study, but most likely you will either
compute means (averages) for your scale items and compare
the means, or you will
compute simple correlations among your variables
.
Part II

The Paper
: ON YOUR OWN, you will write a paper that should have FOUR sections:
INTRODUCTION
(
note that
this section doesn’t actually get its own labeled heading
like the others do
)
In this first section, you should introduce your topic, review the literature (the two or more empirical
stud
ies), and state your hypothes
es
and any additional
research questio
n(s). As you review the
literature,
be sure that for each empirical study you
briefly
summarize what
the study did
and
describe
the main findings
that are relevant to your own study (do not just pull quotes from the article!). Use
the
studies to provide justification for your hypotheses
and/
or background for your research questions. It is
important to explain
why
you are making your prediction(s) and posing your question(s).
METHOD
In the Method section, you should describe speci
fically
what you did
in your study. Using the
appropriate
subheadings
for your
particular
study (e.g., sample,
procedure
, measures, etc.), you should describe
the overall design,
participants
,
procedure, and
variables (including how they were
operationali
zed
/measured). If you combined several items into a scale for a particular DV, then describe
that in this section too. You don’t need to write out every single item in the text of your paper, but give a
couple example items and then direct your reader to
the appendix for the rest (be sure
include as an
appendix a copy of
any
questionnaires or other materials you used
)
. The content of this section will likely
be very similar for all the members of your group, but the
writing
should be in
your own
words!
RESULTS
In this section
you should briefly report what kind of data analysis you did (e.g., you computed means on
your
DV
for the different IV groups, or you computed a correlation between your IV and DV scales), and
then report the resulting
data. In ot
her words, report differences in mean scores between people in
different groups or experimental conditions (e.g., on question X., men on average scored 5.2 while
women scored 6.8), or report r values for correlations between variables, etc. You may find t
hat tables or
graphs are useful ways of presenting means and/or percentages.
DISCUSSION
T
his is the most important section! Here you need to
interpret your findings and critique
your study.
First,
what can you conclude
on the basis of your findings? In other words,
were your hypothese
s
supported (
and
if you posed a research question, what was the answer)? Do the findings relate or
not relate to the previous research you examined (and why or why not, do you think)?
NO
TE that
your actual results (what you found) DO NOT AFFECT your grade

it’s what you SAY about
your results, etc., that matters!
Second,
what were the STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES
of the methodological decisions you made in
your study? What effect(s) do you think your design, your sample, and/or your measures had on
your results? Note that different issues are important to discuss in this section depending on what
kind of study y
ou did (experiment
or
survey). For example, proper sampling is more important for
surveys, whereas proper random assignment is more crucial for experiments. Refer back to your
lecture notes or the appropriate textbook chapter to review the specific issue
s relevant to your type of
study. Some issues you may want to consider here are:
operationalization
(e.g., How might your
definitions/measures have affected your results?);
internal and/or external validity
(e.g., How well are
you able to make causal stat
ements [if you are trying to]? How well are you able to generalize
beyond your sample or to other settings/conditions?). The best papers will be ones that discuss the
most relevant issues and that provide the most interesting insight and thorough use of
course
material.
Finally, suggest ways in which the study could be improved upon or supported further by future research
(e.g., better definitions, other methods for addressing the topic).
REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES
See next page
for
important rules
and tips about
format,
writing style,
grading, late papers, etc.

REQUIREMENTS AND POLICIES
FORMAT: The paper should be 7

8 pages
of text (not counting title page, references, appendices, graphs).
It should be
typed, double

spaced, page

numbered,
with roughly 1″ margins and Times 12 pt font
!
Note
that Word’s default settings are usually wrong
for this assignment
(margins too big, font too small, extra
line spaces inserted after paragraphs, etc.), so you’ll need to change these settings
!
Include a
title page
with your name and your TA’s name/section clearly identified (but do not put your name anywhere else in
the paper, as your TA will be grading “blindly”). You do not need an “abstract” section, but you should
repeat the title of the paper at th
e top of the first page of text (so that your TA can see your title without
knowing who wrote the paper).
WRITING STYLE:
Your goal is to show that you have learned the principles of this course and that you can
use the language of this course in
appropriate and meaningful ways! You are reporting on your research
as though it were a “real” study, so you should sound like a social scientist. Try to avoid “I
/
we” language
and other ways of sounding too colloquial/casual. But don’t just throw in big
words or convoluted
sentences to try to sound “academic” either, as this usually ends up just not making sense.
The goal is
to present your study and your critique of your study with CLARITY and AUTHORITY!
APA STYLE
CITATIONS
and PLAGIARISM:
Since this assignment requires you to make good use of the
thoughts, writings, and work of others, proper citations are essential.
Your paper must follow APA
style
for citations within the text of your paper, as we
ll as for your reference list.
You will
find some
guidelines for
APA style in your reader,
you will likely also have an APA style exercise in section,
and
you are encouraged to follow the example you see in most communication or psychology journal articles.
Plagiarism will result minimally in a
zero grade
, and will likely also result in a failing grade in the
course and further disciplinary action.
Be especially carefully not to “borrow” from another student’s paper, as this is also plagiarism (whether or
not specific words have been changed
)
.
I strongly suggest that you do not even READ a portion of one
your group member’s papers (even just for “ideas”), as it is very difficult to word things differently once
you’ve seen how someone else has done it.
Although the project was designed and conducted as a
group, the WRITING of the paper
(including the ideas)
must be entirely YOUR OWN!
TURNING IN
PAPERS:
Unless your TA officially informs you differently, paper assignments are due in
hard
copy
version on
the designated date in lecture (see syllabus and course schedule). Electronic versions
of papers are not accepted, except in the case of verifiable emergency and with the permission your TA.
Late papers are marked down
5 points per day
(note that if your
paper is late, it will be considered
“turned in” when the TA
receives
the paper).
Always keep a copy of your paper on hand for your
records, and remember that it is
your
responsibility to see that your TA receives your paper
! In
cases of serious emergen
cy, you must notify your TA
and
Professor Mullin
immediately
, and we will
proceed from there, depending on the severity and verifiability of the emergency.
GRADING: Your score will be based on how well your paper
shows
,
compared to the papers of other
students
, accurate and thorough understanding of your study and of course material and outside
research, depth and effectiveness at articulating and supporting your criticisms, university level writing
style and organization, and adherence to the assignmen
t. Note that we DO NOT DEDUCT points from
your paper, but rather you EARN points for writing with clearer understanding and for making better,
stronger, more insightful arguments than other papers do. The “average” papers receive the equivalent
of about
a B

/
C+ grade (the “median” score), and we go up and down from there (with the top scores
being given to the BEST papers).
And remember that your actual results (what you found) DO NOT

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