Back to Assignments | Go to Syllabus  | Go to Course Schedule
Go to Irwin's Main Page | Go to Research ResourcesE-Mail Irwin

Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication
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

Whether you are working toward a bachelors degree or a masters degree, your education shouldn't be merely another set of hoops to jump through. Instead, this education ought to actually be of service to you in your professional life. Toward that end, this assignment gives you the opportunity to explore the extent to which communication study may enhance your professional life.

Undergraduates

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.

Graduate Students

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 it.

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. 

Things to avoid

 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.

Your paper:

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.

• In all papers, your introduction should also have a thesis statement in which you provide a one-sentence summary of the argument you will make in the paper. The body of your paper will consider the questions in the paragraph marked "Undergraduates" or "Graduate Students" above. Of course, you will conclude with a paragraph that summarizes and gracefully ends the essay.

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 page.

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

To make the best use of EBSCOhost, I suggest searching as follows:

• Go to Communication and Mass Media Complete
• Under “Limit Your Results,” choose “Academic Journals” from the Publication Type drop-down menu, “Article” from the Document Type drop-down menu, and check the “Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals” box.


Remember, you are looking for scholarly articles.  The Helmke Library handout Is Your Journal Scholarly? will help you evaluate whether your sources are scholarly.  

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 481-5759

Presentation

You will make a brief (3-4 minute) informal presentation of your research on Monday, April 24. 

Back to Assignments | Go to Syllabus  | Go to Course Schedule
Go to Irwin's Main Page | Go to Research ResourcesE-Mail Irwin

Copyright © 2001-2017 Irwin Mallin
Last Updated: 30 January 2014
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/mallini/512s17rsch.html