Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department
COM 512 - Interpersonal Communication - Spring Semester 2017
Instructor: Irwin Mallin
Research Paper Assignment
Topic proposal due at the start of class on Monday, February 27
First complete, credible draft due at the start of class on Monday, April 17
Paper due at the start of class on Monday, April 24
Choose a topic related to interpersonal communication that you
are interested in. Now narrow that topic to a specific question
whose answer you think will be useful in your personal or
professional life. Find three scholarly articles related to this
question, at least two of which must be a) in a journal
listed in the first paragraph of page 12 of Baxter &
Braithwaite (2008) or b) in NCA's List
of Communication Journals. You now have two tasks in the
paper: 1) explain the answers these articles give for your
research question and 2) critique those answers. That is, do those
answers make sense to you in terms of your own lived experience?
You will hand in a portfolio including your three articles, both
drafts of your final paper, and peer and instructor comments on
your first draft.
Choose a topic related to interpersonal communication that you are interested in. Now narrow that topic to a specific question whose answer you think will be useful in your personal or professional life. Find articles related to this question in scholarly communication journals. Most of the articles you cite should be in journal listed in the first paragraph of page 12 of Baxter & Braithwaite (2008) or should clearly identify the author as a communication scholar. You will write a literature review in which you have two primary tasks: 1) explain the answers these articles give for your research question and 2) critique those answers. That is, do those answers make sense to you in terms of your own lived experience?
For more guidance in writing a literature review, it will be
helpful to watch this 9 minute video produced by the librarians at
North Carolina State University: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/lit-review
and to use this handout by a professor at University of Minnesota Duluth: http://www.duluth.umn.edu/~hrallis/guides/researching/litreview.html
To select a topic
Begin by asking yourself what aspects of interpersonal communication you find particularly problematic or interesting. The assignment will be most useful to you if you can use it to help solve a real-life problem. The question you seek to answer should be focused and specific, not a broad area of research. I can help you shape your topic to meet this requirement.
Your topic proposal should:
• State the question you are seeking to answer.
• Explain what makes this question so problematic
• Provide an annotated bibliography as follows:
Undergraduate students should cite, in APA style,
the three articles they intend to use as well as two
alternates. You need to have actually read all five
articles, so, for each article, you will also provide a detailed
paragraph in which you describe what the article/book/etc. is
about, how you might use it, and display that you’ve actually read
Graduate students should cite, in APA style, at
least five potential sources you’ve actually read and, for each
source, provide a detailed paragraph in which you describe what
the article is about, how you might use it, and display that
you’ve actually read it.
• Do not choose as one of your articles a convention paper (the terms EBSCO most commonly uses for convention papers are "conference paper" and "conference proceedings.")
• Do not choose as one of your articles a book review or editor’s introduction.
• Do not choose as one of your articles an abstract of another article, such as those appearing in Communication Abstracts.
Both undergraduates and graduate students should please note that
you’re not yet writing a literature review, but rather an
annotated bibliography with brief abstract entries. The Purdue OWL
explains how to do an annotated bibliography at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/01/
and provides an example of an APA annotated bibliography entry in
the middle of https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/614/03/ Abstracts
should be of articles you have actually read and in your own
words. Copying an abstract from a database or article is
plagiarism and will result in an F for the course.
Upon approval of your proposal, graduate students will produce a 10-12 page paper suitable for presentation at a regional or national communication convention and undergraduate students will produce a 7-10 page paper suitable for presentation at an undergraduate research conference.
• Should begin with a
paragraph or two in which you introduce the question you are
considering and its particular relevance to you. Undergraduate
papers should also identify the articles you are
analyzing in the introduction.
The best papers will also be grammatically correct, free of
spelling and punctuation errors, and will follow APA style (5th
ed., 2001 or 6th ed., 2009). The Purdue OWL's APA Guide
begins at https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/
and may be navigated by using the panel on the left side of the
All of your work for this project should be typed (double spaced, margins of 1" all around, font no larger than 12). It should also be stapled. Be sure and keep a copy of all of your work for this project.
Hints for success for this paper
• Make sure you do everything called for in the directions.
• 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.
Potential research sources
Of course, use IUCAT to determine whether Helmke Library owns a periodical
To determine whether full text
for a given periodical is available online, go to the E-Journal
Finder on the main Helmke Library web page
Denise Buhr is the subject librarian at Helmke Library assigned
to the Communication Department. You will find her helpful
if you run into challenges doing your research. To make an
appointment, e-mail her at buhrd "at" ipfw.edu or phone her at
You will make a brief (3-4 minute) informal presentation of your
research on Monday, April 24.
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Last Updated: 30 January 2014