RESEARCH RATIONALE AND METHOD PAPER
First, identify a specific and narrow topic for research that focuses on some aspect of communication behavior, and formulate a question that you have about that particular communication phenomenon. You may have a question in mind, or you may find a question by examining the literature and identifying gaps. Please make sure that your topic is, in fact, related to the communication discipline. Hopefully, you’ve already accomplished this with your Topic Proposal assignment.
Then, read relevant, primary sources (peer-reviewed research studies and articles published in scholarly journals, NOT in books, popular media, and web-based articles- ) on your topic and related issues. Make notes as you read that identify key ideas, variables, and definitions. Avoid recording direct quotations from the journal articles. Instead, paraphrase and summarize ideas from original sources in your own words – explain these ideas in plain language. You are limited to using ONLY 5 direct quotations in this paper. You will need to read more material than you will end up citing in your paper in order to find useful and topic-relevant sources. You should have a minimum of 10 sources cited and referenced in the final draft of your paper. Additionally, a minimum of seven of these sources must be from Communication journals (as identified in Chapter 3, p. 53 of your textbook- Frey, L. R., Botan, C. H., & Kreps, G. L. (2000). Investigating communication: An introduction to research methods (2nd edition). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.(BOOK CURRENTLY USING IN COURSE TO REFERENCE)).
This culminating course assignment is to be comprised of the following components (all properly formatted according to APA style requirements). Instructions for composing each section are detailed below.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION SECTION (1 pages)
This section is to be a re-composed draft (i.e., edit your paper using instructor/T.A. feedback given on your topic proposal) of the overview section of your Topic Proposal, including each of the following components (please note the differences between these instructions and those provided for the Topic Proposal assignment):
1. Attention step. You should begin the introduction with an attention-getter that draws the reader in and makes them want to read more. This should be something from the research literature and not a hypothetical or antecdotal story.
2. Topic justification/rationale. Next, you should supply rationale for further examination of this topic. Explain why further research on this communication topic would be important, useful, or beneficial.
3. Thesis statement. The paragraph in which you provide your research rationale will conclude with your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the general point or purpose of your entire paper. To identify your thesis statement, please start the statement with, “The purpose of this paper is to . . .”. The thesis statement should reflect how you propose to investigate your research question or hypothesis. This will help you to focus your paper on creating a research study to examine your research question or hypothesis.
4. Preview of main points. You should end your introduction with a preview of each section of your paper. This will help readers understand how you have organized the content of your paper. Briefly describe the structure/elements of the literature review section, the method section, and the conclusion/limitations section (see below).
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE LITERATURE REVIEW SECTION (4-6 pages)
The primary purpose of a literature review is to provide a rationale for a proposed research question or hypothesis. A review of literature should represent a synthesis of existing theory and research studies that argues for the need to explore a research question or hypothesis. The process of constructing a literature review acquaints the researcher with scholarly thought and studies already accomplished in a particular area, and allows the researcher to build on and extend the existing knowledge by identifying a need for further research.
A written review of current scholarly literature on a topic begins generally (often with a theory or theoretical perspective), and gradually becomes more and more specific until you propose your specific research question or hypothesis. You will incorporate all relevant theories and previous research findings into your review. Remember that this should serve as an argument creating the need to explore your research question or hypothesis. Please do not incorporate information in your literature review that does not deal directly with your research question or hypothesis. On the other hand, make sure that you incorporate enough evidence from reviewed literature to create a strong argument for exploring your research question or hypothesis (from at least 10 journals articles, with a minimum of seven articles from communication journals). The key to writing a good literature review is synthesis. The following questions may help to guide your reading and organization process:
1. Which research articles come to similar conclusions?
2. Which research articles disagree with one another or have contradictory findings?
3. Are certain theories consistently used to frame studies on the topic?
4. How could further research add to previous research accomplished on this topic?
The literature review should begin by conceptually defining each of the concepts that you are interested in. You will give a broad conceptual definition so that the reader understands the focus of your paper. For example, if you have ever taken a conflict management class, you know that a multitude of definitions exist for the notion of conflict. So, it is important to tell your reader how you are defining conflict. Each paragraph of the literature review should have a topic sentence, and the body of the paragraph should work on supporting the topic sentence. All of your topic sentences should fit together as a cohesive argument for exploring your research question or hypothesis. When you are constructing your outline for the literature review section, keep in mind the argument you need to construct in order to justify your research question or hypothesis.
Please do NOT provide a study-by-study summary of the literature (an annotated bibliography). The purpose of a focused literature review is to synthesize what scholars know about your topic. Therefore, you should have multiple citations per paragraph and oftentimes per sentence. All constructs, variables, and theory components (if you choose to incorporate theories into your paper) that are relevant to your study should be defined and explained using scholarly sources (with citations). When completed, your literature review should resemble the content and structure of relevant published journal articles. This means that you should cite scholarly sources whenever an idea is not your own. Please compose the literature review section in past tense, since you are reviewing research that has already been completed.
Conclude the literature review section of your paper by proposing a clear and concise research question or hypothesis that emerges logically and clearly from your literature review. That, is the variables/constructs you write about in your literature review should be found in your H/RQ. Conversely, do not include variables in your H/RQ that are not discussed in your literature review. Remember, the research question or hypothesis you develop MUST be written appropriately as a test of differences or a test of associations. You should have a lead-in paragraph that ties the research together and summarizes the argument for your research question or hypothesis. You need to have at least one research question or hypothesis, but you may propose more than that. However, multiple research questions and hypotheses will ordinarily require a more complex study method design, complicating your task. Any research question or hypothesis should be set apart in the text of your paper as per APA formatting requirements.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE METHOD SECTION (2-3 pages)
Compose a detailed description of a quantitative study design that can be employed to effectively investigate your research question or research hypothesis. Please compose the methods section in future tense, since this section is a research study proposal (you will not actually collect data). The method section of your study proposal should adequately address each of the following components:
1. Study Method Overview. You must propose a quantitative method for this proposal, and it should consist of procedures that are realistically feasible to implement. Preview the research method using quantitative research terms such as experiment, survey, or content analysis, and explain why this specific method is most appropriate for quantitatively examining your research question or research hypothesis.
2. Study Method Procedures. Describe how the research study would proceed with enough detail to actually conduct the study. Clearly explain the experimental, survey, or content analysis procedures to be used – provide the sequence of procedural steps to be followed, as well as specific instructions for each of the steps. Be sure to address the following elements within your detailed description of study procedures:
a. Study variables. Define variables and describe how you will operationalize the variables involved in your study. That is, explain how variables will be observed, manipulated, and/or measured through experimental procedures, survey instruments, or content analysis.
b. Study participants. Define the participant sampling frame, describe how participants will be sampled from that frame (how they will be selected and recruited to participate), and provide a justification for the desired sample size. Explain where participants will engage in the study, what will happen when they arrive, what instructions they will be given, and how they will be involved in data generation.
c. Study instruments. Describe any data measurement instruments to be used (e.g., survey questionnaires). It is STRONGLY recommended that you use already existing measures (i.e., questionnaires) from scholarly articles as the basis for your proposed method for collecting data. If pre-existing study methods or survey instruments are to be used, properly cite them along with their measures of validity and reliability. If you compose your own survey questionnaire for the study, describe how the validity and reliability of the instrument would be determined. Include any pre-existing or self-composed survey instruments to be used in the appendix to the study proposal.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE LIMITATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS SECTION (1-2 paragraphs)
Discuss any limitations to your proposed study. That is, discuss possible threats to the internal and external validity of your study results that could be posed by the methods, the participants, and the researcher. Explain why any threat stands as a possibility. It should not be difficult to be specific and clear here, since the textbook describes all of these threat possibilities in detail.
Finally, conclude with a brief summary of your paper. The summary should review the main components of the paper, and close with important reasons to explore your research question or hypothesis through your research study proposal.
In addition to the content requirements specified above, the assignment will be assessed based on the following compositional requirements:
1. APA style. Properly employ APA formatting throughout the paper, including in-text source citations, as well as post-text reference list and appendix.
2. Remain impersonal. Compose in the third person (i.e., avoid first- and second-person pronouns such as “I”, “me”, “we”, “us”, “you”, etc.). In place of a pronoun, specify who is being referred to. (i.e., say “the researcher will use…” instead of “I will use…”)
3. Limit your quotes. Paraphrase and summarize from original sources in your own words. Explain ideas and terms in plain language. You are limited to using ONLY 5 direct quotations.
4. Spacing and font. Double-space (and double-space only) throughout, with 12-point Times New Roman font, and one-inch margins on ALL sides.
5. Write well. Composition should be clear and sensible, with error-free grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Be sure to submit your paper online via Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. on the due date (do not email your paper to me). NO late assignments will be accepted.
• If you can’t find many studies linking the variables you are interested in, review studies that are relevant to the general area of research you are examining or review what is known about them separately and make the link between them as you lead up to your RQ/H.
• Focus more on quantitative research rather than critical or rhetorical research. It will be easier to use the findings from quantitative research to make an argument for your research.
• Use some organizing scheme to review the studies—do not make each study a separate paragraph, but rather weave together the articles to help create your argument.
• Remember to provide transitions between each section.
• Always write in third person. Use past tense when reviewing findings from previous research, but use present tense when discussing the implications of studies.
• Indent your RQ/H as you would a new paragraph.
• When you are explaining how you conceptualize your variables, keep in mind how you are going to measure them when it comes time to write your Method section.
• Use primary sources ONLY. DO NOT use textbooks or secondary sources.
Grading Rubric for Research Rationale and Method Paper (230 points)
Revised Topic Proposal and Bibliography based on instructor comments ____/10 points
Introduction _____/27 points
¬¬¬¬_____ Includes an appropriate attention-getter, and introduction is grounded in scholarly
literature (6 points)
_____ Clearly introduces variables and/or theory (7 points)
_____ Provides a quality and convincing rationale for exploring the topic of study (6 points)
_____ Includes an effective thesis statement (4 points)
_____ Includes an effective preview of main points (4 points)
Literature Review/Hypotheses/RQ’s _____/65 points
_____ Literature review contains a logical flow (good/logical organizational structure) (8 points)
_____ Synthesizes scholarship together logically (in themes) (10 points)
_____ Follows a ? format (information is broad to narrow) (5 points)
_____ Includes appropriate literature (for the variables explored) (15 points)
_____ Uses unambiguous and descriptive headings throughout paper (5 points)
_____ Defines and explains relevant concepts (10 points)
_____ Clear connection among research, theory (when applicable), and proposed hypotheses and/or research questions (i.e., argument provided) (6 points)
_____ Presents at least one logical research question/hypothesis (in proper format) (6 points)
Method Section (83 points total)
Study Method Overview_____/15 points
_____ Rationale for method choice provided (7 points)
_____ Provides a brief and accurate description of the proposed method
Study Method Procedures_____/55 points (8 points)
_____ Method appropriately answers research questions and/or tests hypotheses (20 points)
_____ Description of the participants, measures, and procedures/instruments is complete and information is in the correct sections (24 points)
_____ Justification is provided for choosing the particular sample, measures, and procedures (11 points)
Limitations and Conclusions Section_____/13 points
_____ Discusses threats to internal and external validity (9 points)
_____ Includes brief summary of research proposal (4 points)
Overall Paper Quality_____/40 points
_____ Grammar, spelling, and writing quality (10 points)
_____ APA Formatting (references/in-text citations, title page) (15 points)
_____ Follows formatting requirements (1-inch margins, Times New Roman 12pt. font,
double-spaced, etc.) (8 points)
_____ Appropriate material included in Appendix section (scales/measures/questions used for
data collection) (7 points)
_____ The methods section is not written in future tense (minus up to 10 points)
_____ Research participant demographics do not make sense (minus up to 5 points)
_____ Operational definitions do not correspond with conceptual definitions (minus up to 10 points)
_____ Topic is inappropriate for the assignment (i.e., it is not a communication topic and/or does not focus on communication variables) (up to 15 point deduction)
_____ Inappropriate number of and/or type of references (minus 5 points per infraction)
_____ Overuse of direct quotations (5 quotations allowed; 5 point deduction per infraction)
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