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Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Department of Communication
COM 597 - Customers and Clients - Fall Semester 2011
Instructor: Irwin Mallin
Research Paper Assignment
Research proposal due at the start of class on Monday, September 26
First draft due at the start of class on Monday,
November 17
Final draft due at the start of class on Wednesday, November 30



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 as a provider of services to customers and clients and/or enhance your perspective as a customer or client

• You will produce an ethnography, as described in "A Field Guide to Studying Organizational Communication," of some aspect of organizational life related to the relationships organizations have with their customers/clients.

• Find an organization to study as described on pages 348-349 of "A Field Guide."  Frame your study as described on pages 349-350.

• Begin the framing process by asking yourself what aspects of the customer/client relationship 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.

Your research proposal, due on September 26, should:

I. Indicate the organization you will be studying.  If you'll be focusing on a particular department or location, indicate that.

II. Specify how you'll frame the study, indicating your research question and the literature that will initially ground the study.  Explain what makes this topic so significant for you and for our understanding of organizations and their customers/clients.

III. Specify how you'll conduct the study, indicating which ethnographic methods you'll use.  To the extent allowed by your organization and appropriate for your topic, you are encouraged to conduct interviews as part of this study.  Include a preliminary draft of your interview questions.

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 (first draft due November 17, final draft due November 30) will follow the format specified on page 356 of "A Field Guide"

The best papers will also be grammatically correct, free of spelling and punctuation errors, and will follow APA style (either 5th ed., 2001 or 6th ed. 2009).

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 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:

• Under “Choose Databases,” choose Academic Search Premier, Business Source Premier and Communication and Mass Media Complete
• Under “Limit Your Results,” selecting “Scholarly (Peer-Reviewed) Journals”

Also useful, from the Helmke Library’s "Find Resources By" collection (from anywhere you can access the web):
ABI/Inform Suite, PsycINFO,  Sociological Abstracts

Remember, you are looking for scholarly articles.  The Helmke Library guide entitled  Is Your Journal Scholarly? will help you understand the difference.

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

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Copyright © 2001-2011 Irwin Mallin
Last Updated: 23 August 2011
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/mallini/597f11rsch.html