Question: I am having a little trouble coming up with a topic for my research project, I was wondering if you could give me a couple of ideas to point me into the right direction. I am a little confused about what the topic we are doing research on is supposed to be.
Response: The first step in selecting a topic is to brainstorm about ideas or questions you have had about any type of communication phenomena you have come across in your personal experience or in the classes that you have taken. Whatever your area, speech communication, new media, technical writing, or public relations, your past classes can give you ideas. Just think about a past class in which a topic was covered that intrigued you in some way. What questions came to mind when thinking about that topic? List all of those topics that you remember. Then, prioritize them according to what interests you. Next, look at the list and make a determination as to which of the listed topics you believe might be researchable. That is, on which of the topics might you be able to find information? Then, turn to your textbooks for those classes, look in the index, and locate pages where the topic is covered. Look for references to research. Go find the sources referenced in the textbook. Once you find the source, read through the abstract. The abstract is the descriptive paragraph at the beginning of the article which reports the justification, methods and findings. If the article looks related to your interest, read it. Otherwise, go to the list of references at the end of the article to look for other potential sources. Examples of ideas might include:
These are only examples of the broad possibility of questions dealing with communication phenomena. Keep in mind that the research topic you choose should grab and hold your interest.
- Speech communication:
- How do fear appeals work in public speaking?
- What is the effect of birth order on parent-adolescent closeness?
- New media:
- How does the anonymity of chat rooms contribute to the development of online relationships?
- What are the historical trends in the usability of computer software packages?
- Technical writing:
- How affective are translations in computer manuals?
- What is the percentage of readership of technical manuals?
- Public relations:
- How do public relations personnel deal with spin in an organizational crisis?
- What is the relationship between management style and reporting of organizational crises?
Question: I'm having some trouble fine tuning my research question. I found and turned in an article related to the use of ethnic media and ethnic identity. I found a few more articles that support the one I turned in; however, I don't really have a question to do further research. I want to stay with the same topic but I don't really want to do it on Cultural Imperialism on the international level: I'd like to stay in the US. I'm not sure what question to go on. Any suggestions? I know that within say Latinos, there are subcategories...those of us that relate to our heritage, those of us that are bi-cultural and those of us who don't really identify with our heritage. I also know that with each subgroup, there is a different response to ethnic media. I found these in the studies, but I don't think I'm supposed to do further research on the studies I have found, I think that's where I'm ending up.
Response: Part of what makes scientific claims compelling is the ability to replicate. That is you can view for oneself the evidence. For example, when scientists predicted that the comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 was going to crash into Jupiter, thousands of people looked up through their telescopes and watched it happen. There is no shame in repeating a study, as long as what you do can add to the discussion of the phenomenon under investigation. Take the relationship of ethnic identity in use of ethnic media. Although I do not know the literature, I would suspect that some study was done either interviewing or surveying individuals about their viewing of ethnic media, i.e. Spanish language television. You could extend this research by taking it into its next phase or into another direction. For example, you could test whether the findings of the article hold true for San Antonio by surveying local residents about TV viewing and comparing responses according to how those individuals identify themselves using the categorical scheme you discussed in your email. You could also do a more in-depth interview with those who do watch Spanish language tv and ask why they choose to do so, then compare their responses with the assumptions associated with the categorical scheme you discussed in your email. These are two possibilities but certainly not the only possible questions you may pursue.
Question: I was just wondering if I change my mind about my topic for the project later in the semester is that ok. I can't decide between two I still need some more time to figure out which one I really feel more confident in.
Response: I want you to decide fairly early in the semester, at least by the Literature Review assignment. If you want to talk to me about your ideas, I might be able to help you come to a clearer decision.
Question: What do you mean by an annotated bibliography? "Create an annotated bibliography covering 10 articles, based on one of the 10 questions. The annotated bibliography will be used for the review of literature." Can the articles come from magazines or do they have to be scientific journal articles? Also, where can I find the articles you are asking for?
Response: First, an annotated bibliography is a bibliography which also contains abstracts for each of the articles listed in the bibliopgraphy. So, give the reference, in proper APA form, then give a paragraph description (in your own words) of the article referenced. Second, the annotated bibliography should cover articles from scientific journals only. Use the procedures I recommended in class: Look at the bibliography from your first source (assignment 1), to find subsequent sources, or go to the Communication (or PsycInfo) Abstracts and do a subject search to find articles, then look at the bibliographies of the sources you find to find other subsequent sources.
Question: I have a question about the Annotated Bibliography assignment. I know that you want an abstract of each article and a bibliography page. I'm confused about the annotated bibliography - I'm not exactly sure of what you want. What is an abstract? Could you please let me know what is needed.
Response: An abstract is a short descriptive paragraph describing the contents of the article. It usually contains one or two sentences about each of the major areas of the article, i.e. the topic area and justification or rationale for the study, literature review or previous studies, methods, results, and conclusions. Usually, you will see the abstract at the beginning of the article, right after the title and the list of authors, but before the text. Abstracts are used for reference purposes, as library databases use them for listing purposes. For this assignment, please write the abstract in your own words, based on what you gathered from the article. You do not need to separate each set of reference and abstract on its own page, but please give the reference (in APA style) and its abstract directly below it. Use this form:
For an example of an annotated bibliography, click here.
Question: I am having a lot of trouble doing the Annotated Bibliography assignment. It seems that no matter what I type in to the search engine, I only receive a very limited number of resources that don't relate to what I am looking for. I am extremely frustrated and confused. I do not want to miss the assignment deadline, but I have nothing to turn in. I have been here for about three hours and still can't figure out what to do. Can you help?
Response: Your best option is to go to the JPL and look at the Communication Abstracts, or talk to the Reference Librarian (That is his or her job). Online searches tend to waste more time than they save in my experience.
Question: (Given the Annotated Bibliography assignment) should I change it or do I need to research a different aspect.
Response: About the Annotated Bibliography assignment, you seemed to have hit a brick wall finding scholarly articles on the subject. All of the articles you cited are from the press (newspapers and news magazines). You will need to build your case for research on scholarly journal articles. For example, the first article you cite is from Christianity Today. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the religious ideology of the editors, this would hardly be considered "scientific." For example, how is the statement: "People who use dating sites are stereotypically: lonely, socially inept or predators" to be evaluated? Is it based on empirical evidence or hearsay? Where is the proof? Did the article's author randomly select subjects who use online dating sites and then conduct psychological profiles on each to determine whether the stereotypical view held to scrutiny? Furthermore, was the method chosen for such a study, if indeed there was one, reliable and valid. Finally, did the author submit the study to a panel of experts and to the community of scholars at large for discussion and debate? The answer to those questions is: most likely not. At any rate, Christianity Today is not viewed by scholars to be that type of journal nor does it purport itself to be. Therefore, it should not be used for serious research. The same holds true for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, etc. Newspapers typically only report what has been found by some researchers, as understood by the journalists. Please cite only primary sources, such as scholarly journals (like the Southern Journal of Communication in your first assignment), which report results from studies the authors conducted after having collected empirical evidence.
Question: You have as part of the criteria for evaluation for the Literature Review assignment: 1. introduction, 2. literature review, 3. proposed direction for study. Are we to write an introduction, literature review and hypothesis as 3 seperate sections as you have as an example in the Course Materials handbook or do you mean our literature review should entail all three and in the end, our research paper will have a separate place for an introducation and hypothesis?
Response: For this assignment, please write it as a complete essay in its own regard--meaning it should have an introduction (description of the study and justification), a body (the review of literature describing previous research on the topic), and a conclusion (specifying a direction for study). Your hypothesis (or research question) should be included in the conclusion section of this assignment. Your Research Proposal assignment will incorporate the Literature Review assignment (revised of course). In the Research Proposal you will replace the conclusion section proposed in the Literature Review assignment with your hypothesis (or research question) and methods section, and put a newly revised direction for future study in a new conclusion section.
Question: I am writing my literature review and I found a citation (by Buttlar) in the journal article written by someone else (Jefries). How would I write that in my lit reivew?
Response: The Buttlar quote is cited in Jeffres, therefore Buttlar is the primary source and Jeffres is the secondary source. You have two options. First, (the best option) you could go to the primary source and then cite it as (Buttlar, 1995). This allows you to double check Jeffres interpretation of Buttlar to see if you agree and is the more appropriate research method. Second, you could cite Jeffres' interpreation of Buttlar in this form (Buttlar, 1995, cited in Jeffres 1999). In this case you would put Jeffres in the reference list but not Buttlar. Regarding using the citation in the secondary source, this is sometimes necessary if the primary source is not available, for example with an unpublished manuscript.
Question: For the Literature Review assignment, are we supposed to write a literary review on each annotated bibliography that we did for the previous assignment? Or just one of them? Also, what is a literary review.
Response: For the Literature Review assignment, you should tie together all the articles from the Annotated Bibliography into a coherent whole. Essentially, the Literature Review assignment is an argumentative essay in which you: 1) introduce your topic and provide justification for it (as in why you chose the topic and question to research); 2) review previous research on the topic (as you performed for the Annotated Bibliography assignment); and conclude with a proposal for your study (i.e. what you intend to research given your introduction and the previous research you reviewed). There is a sample research report in the Course Materials Handbook for this class. The first part of the sample research report, up to the statement of the hypothesis, is essentially the same as your Literature Review assignment.