COM 6504 – Research Paper Assignment
This purpose of this paper is to allow you to investigate some aspect of persuasion and/or social influence in depth and detail. The topic and nature of the paper up to the student to decide; however, because it represents a detailed investigation, the paper’s topic should be of some interest to the student. Students may choose a topic discussed in class or a topic not discussed in class.
Nature of the Paper
This paper can come in any of several formats. It could be a literature review, a research proposal, a development of a theoretical position, a research report, a meta-analysis, a methodological and/or theoretical critique of an article or area of research, or an application of the material discussed. Given any of the formats, the paper should review the relevant literature (i.e., theory development and/or research) relevant to your topic. Using any format, one of your primary tasks in writing this paper is to describe what we know (and what we do not know) about the topic that you have chosen. You should use the appropriate data sources, find the appropriate books, book chapters, and/or journal articles, and synthesize what they have to say into a paper (or part of your paper, depending on the format).
If you choose to write a research proposal, research report, or meta-analysis, the literature review and predictions should provide the proper context for your (proposed) study. In addition to the review of the literature (described above) you will need to explain the methods used to test the prediction(s) you made or the question(s) you posed. Follow the standard format for a social science method’s section (e.g., participants, design, instrumentation, procedures). Be explicit. Develop your methods to the extent that you (or someone else) could actually perform the study using your methods. Depending on your paper’s format, you may or may not actually carry out the study.
The paper should follow the instructions described above. While the length of the paper can vary depending on the topic and format you have chosen, it is not likely that you can adequately complete all parts of the assignment in fewer than 15 pages. I expect most papers to be in the 20-page range (of text, i.e., not counting title page, abstract, references, tables, figures, appendixes, etc.). A maximum page limit is 25. The instructor will return any papers substantially longer than the upper limit for pruning before evaluation can occur. Source citations and reference list should be consistent with the most current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (i.e., APA style).
Evaluation will occur on each major part of the paper and might vary somewhat depending on the particular format you use. Evaluation of the literature review depends upon the extent to which it is complete and the quality of your synthesis and analysis of the literature. Evaluation of the hypotheses
and methods (if any) section(s) depend upon the extent to which they are compelling, appropriate given the literature review, and ask (and potentially attempt to answer) interesting questions.
The primary criteria used to evaluate all formats will include completeness, organization, clarity, and mechanics.
• Completeness refers to the extent to which the student provides an adequate description of the literature and methods (if applicable). This will include the extent to which you describe the existing research and theory development relevant to the topic.
• Organization refers to the extent to which various ideas flow together. Sentences should blend effectively into paragraphs, while paragraphs should blend well in the major sections of your paper.
• Clarity refers to the extent to which ideas are presented in an understandable manner. This would include the extent to which ideas (the students’, well as other researchers and theorists) are presented clearly.
• Mechanics refers to the technical (or stylistic) aspects of the paper. Your final draft should be a manuscript devoid of typographical errors, misspellings, punctuation errors, sentence fragments, and so on. Moreover, this criterion also includes evaluation of the extent to which references and citations are complete and consistent with APA style. In this respect, it would be helpful to develop the habit of completing rough drafts of your work and then spending time cleaning and polishing. If you try to write the entire paper the last day or two before it is due, you will almost certainly encounter stylistic problems, not to mention substantive ones.
I will be available to discuss possible topics and, within reason, to examine your preliminary written drafts of your paper. I will not be available to review drafts on the evening before the papers are due. You should set some reasonable period for the submission and return of rough drafts. You should generally count on a one-week turn-around time in returning a variety of drafts (i.e., not only this paper, but drafts of other papers as well).
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