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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication

COM 300 – Introduction to Communication Research Methods – Fall Semester 2014
Instructor: Irwin Mallin

Article Critique and Research Proposal
Brief Statement due no later than the start of class on Monday, November 24
Full Assignment due at the start of class on Wednesday, December 10

Now that you’ve had some experience surveying the literature in an area of interest by completing the bibliographic assignment, it’s time to do an in-depth analysis of one article and do a hypothetical proposal of further research in that area.

I. Article Critique (125 points): You will use the article that I labeled "THIS ONE" on your annotated bibliography. If I didn't label an article for you to use, see me immediately

Begin with the APA citation for this article.

The rest of your paper will use the following format,  WITH THE FOLLOWING SECTION HEADINGS, EXACTLY AS THEY APPEAR HERE:

IMPORTANT: If yours isn't an empirical study (survey, experiment, or content/interaction analysis, your sections will be different so see me immediately for instructions.

A.  PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: Exactly what was the study about, and the main reason for doing the study (i.e., what was the author's goal in the research, and why would anyone else care about that goal?). Is it an experiment, survey, or content/interaction analysis? What is the link between this study and communication? You should get a sense of all of this early in the article.

B. HYPOTHESIS/ES OR RESEARCH QUESTION(S): Quote the hypotheses or research questions verbatim from the article, in proper APA form (with quotation marks and page numbers). You’ll usually find these in their own section of the article, often right before the “Methods” or “Procedures” section.

C. VARIABLES AND MEASURES: What are the major variables used in the hypotheses or research questions? If your study is an experiment, which variables are independent and which are dependent? How do the authors define each of the variables? For example, if you have a hypothesis on the link between verbal responsiveness and self efficacy, how are those terms defined by this article? What measures were used for each of the major variables in the study? You should find these details in the "Methods" or "Procedures" section of the article.  (If you're critiquing an interpretive study, replace this with a section called DATA GATHERING AND ANALYSIS in which you discuss what the nature and the rationale of the data that was gathered and how it was analyzed.)

D. PARTICIPANTS: Who were the participants (i.e., subjects) in this study? How many subjects participated? How were they selected for participation? What exactly did they do to participate?  Look in the "Methods" section of the article for this information. (If you're doing a content analysis of published materials, replace this with a section entitled TEXTS in which you discuss how the texts selected for analysis were chosen, how many of them there are, and from where they were chosen.)

E. HISTORY & DIVERSITY OF COMMUNICATION: (For those sections of your COM 480 Portfolio). Which of Craig's seven historical traditions of communication does this article belong to? What features of the article indicate that it's part of that tradition? Identify another of the traditions by name. If the author were to do this study in that tradition, what would they do differently?

F. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: For each hypothesis or research question in the article, provide a brief summary of the results as given in the “Discussion” section.  What limitations do the authors acknowledge about this study?  What conclusions and implications do the authors arrive at? What research do they say needs to be done next?

G. CRITIQUE: This should be the biggest section of your paper.  What do you think are the major strengths and weaknesses of this study? How well does this study satisfy the warrants we talked about for this kind of research? Does this study have internal and external validity? (Check your class notes for the standards for internal and external validity for the type of study you're critiquing – survey, experiment, or content/interaction analysis). Why is or isn’t this study important to the study of communication? What is this study's unique contribution to the study of communication? State the reasons behind your evaluation as specifically and concretely as you can.

Staple to the back of your paper a complete copy of your article.

II. Research Proposal (125 points): Now come up with a study of your own in the same general area. Your research proposal will have the same sections and headings as Sections A through D of the Article Critique, and will also have the following section:

E. DATA ANALYSIS: How will you use the data you’ve gathered to answer your research questions and/or test your hypotheses?

(If you're proposing an interpretive study, your section C will be DATA GATHERING in which you explain the nature and rationale of the data you intend to gather.)

Note that in the Research Proposal, you’re only proposing research, not actually conducting it. The information you provide will reflect that.  For example, in Section D, you’ll know who you intend the participants to be and how many you intend to participate, but you won’t know how many actually participate.

For both the Article Critique and Research Proposal, your finished product should be grammatically correct, free of spelling and punctuation errors.  It should also be typed (double spaced, with margins of 1" all around, and a font no larger than 12) and stapled. You’ll write the paper following APA style throughout, including in-text quotation and citation.   Please keep a copy for yourself.

The hints for success for this assignment are the same as last time:
• Make sure you do everything called for in these directions.
Don’t put this off!  Start now, take your time, and use the services of  the Writing Center on the second floor of Helmke Library if you need to.
• You are invited to show me a draft or discuss potential paper topics in office hours or by appointment.

Brief Statement: On November 24, you will hand in 2-3 typed pages with:

a) the APA citation for the article you’ll critique,
b) your first draft of Section A. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY and Section E. HISTORY & DIVERSITY OF COMMUNICATION of your article critique, and
c) your first draft of Section A. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY of and Section E. DATA ANALYSIS of  your research proposal. 
The final project will not be accepted if I have not approved your brief statement.

This assignment is adapted from one in the Merrigan and Huston Instructor’s Resource Manual

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