Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of
COM 300 – Introduction to Communication Research Methods – Fall
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
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
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
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
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
The hints for success for this assignment are the same as last
• 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
This assignment is adapted from one in the Merrigan and Huston
Instructor’s Resource Manual
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