Preparing the Topic Justification

Purposes:

1.  To develop techniques for communicating the importance of your ideas.

2.  To provide a basis for focusing you research project.

3.  To practice writing research questions.

4.  To provide an evaluation of your skills for writing justifications and research questions.

 

Procedure:

1.  This first point is the most important bit of advice to help you prepare an excellent topic justification on your first draft:  At every point of the preparation of your justification remember your task is to convince an audience of communication researchers that the research you propose to do is significant. 

2.  Here is the second most important bit of advice:  Carefully and deliberately review the articles you abstracted to see how the authors justified the research they reported.  The justification you are to write for this assignment should look very much like the first three or four paragraphs of the typical communication studies journal article.  You will learn to write your justification by modeling the authors you are reviewing.

3.  As you review your articles look to see how the authors convince the audience of the importance of their topic.  See how they describe why the research they report is relevant to the topic that is under investigation and to the audience’s understanding of the relevant theories.  Pay particular attention to how the authors directly, or indirectly, indicate how their research provides for the audience's understanding of communication processes.

4.  On several 4x6 cards, write your answers to the following questions:  How does the research you propose contribute to the existing communication studies’ research on your topic.  How will the understanding of the selected topic be improved?  What contribution to existing theory will be made?  Why will the research be worth the effort?  How will it benefit people?  What other justifications can you make?  Make several cards that contain references to points made in the articles you reviewed because you must use these in your writing to support your answers to the previous questions.  Do not use direct quotes, but paraphrase what the authors wrote.

5.  Begin preparing one or two well-written research questions.   Carefully read chapter 4 in the Merrigan and Houston textbook.  Pay particular attention to the format of communication research questions, especially questions written for the "Discovery Paradigm."  Also, look at the examples of research questions that follow this assignment description.  Keep looking until you understand what is wrong with each of the incorrect examples.

6.  Write your research questions onto 4x6 cards.  Be sure to format them correctly.  

7.  Organize the cards you prepared into three groups.  The first cards provide for a discussion of the topic's importance.  The second group provides a description and explanation of the research goal.  The third group of cards provide an explanation and an argument for the significance of the research.   The research question(s) are at the very end.  Once you have your cards organized and in order, begin writing the paper.  Here's the order to follow:

             A.  Use the first group of cards to write the paper's second paragraph.
        B.  Use the second group of cards to write the third (maybe also a fourth) paragraph.
        C.  Use the third group to write the last paragraph.
        D.  After the last paragraph, list no more two or three research questions.
        E.  Read what you have written so far, and then write the first paragraph of your paper to
             introduce the paper's thesis and each of the sections/paragraphs that follow the
             introduction paragraph.

                  Follow the format requirements described below.

8.  Remember that the purpose of the research you will be proposing is to provide your audience a more thorough, or better yet, a new and better understanding of the topic you have chosen.  YOU PURPOSE IS NOT TO GATHER EVIDENCE TO PROVE SOMETHING YOU ALREADY KNOW TO BE A GOOD IDEA, NOR ARE YOU TO PROPOSE OR MAKE AN ARGUMENT FOR SOLVING AN APPLIED COMMUNICATION PROBLEM IN SOME PARTICULAR WAY.   Said another way, when your audience reads your work, they will learn what they should know, but they will not be reading what they, or anyone else, should do.

 

Format for the paper

1.  Prepare a properly APA formatted title page.  Follow the prescriptions provided at:

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#IIA

Pay close attention to the rules for titles and running heads.  Your completed title page must look very much like the following example:

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#A1

2.  Double space your paper and do not use any font smaller than 12 point.  Set up an automatic header to automatically number and put the header on the upper right hand corner of each page.  Instructions for using Word to create an automatic header are at the end of this document.

3.  Prepare a properly formatted APA reference page.  Use the website indicated in #1 to learn how to format the reference page.  Your completed reference list must look very much like:

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/apa4b.htm#A3

4.  The paper you submit will include the title page, no more than two pages of text, the reference list and a completed check sheet.

5.  DO NOT BEGIN THE PAPER WITH ANY SENTENCES THAT MAY APPEAR TO BE PLATITUDES.

6.  ANY SENTENCE THAT CONTAINS A PHRASE SUCH AS  "EXISTING RESEARCH" OR "PREVIOUS STUDIES" OR "PAST EXAMINATIONS" MUST HAVE CITATIONS OF SUCH STUDIES LISTED IN THE SAME SENTENCE.  For example:  Many studies have examined the role of communication in developing relationships (Jones & Rankor, 2005; Thomson, Ellis, Vallox, & Smith, 2004; Schutt, 2004; Rubin, Rubin & Peale, 2003).

7.  NEVER HAVE ANY ARTICLE LISTED IN THE REFERENCE LIST THAT IS NOT REFERENCED IN THE PAPER.  APA REFERENCE LISTS ARE NOT BIBLIOGRAPHIES.

8.  Email your paper to smilowme@jmu.edu before midnight of the day the paper is due.  Make sure your email address is on the title page.

Examples of poorly written research questions

Correct 

 

RQ1:

 

How do the interaction patterns between public relation practitioners and their clients affect the development of public relation campaigns?

 

 

 

 

 

Incorrect

 

RQ1:

 

How do the patterns of interaction between public relation practitioners and their clients affect the development of public relation campaigns?

 

 

 

 

 

Incorrect

 

RQ1:

 

Why do the attitudes of pubic relation practitioners regarding their clients affect public relation campaigns?

 

 

 

 

 

Incorrect

 

Question:

 

Public relation practitioners sometimes have better communication skills than their clients.

 

 

 

 

 

Incorrect

 

RQ:

 

Public relation practitioners have less communication apprehension than their clients.

 

CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE PAPER! 

CLICK HERE FOR CHECK SHEET!

 

 

 To create automatic headers in Word:

 

1.  Do the following on the title page of the document.

 

2.  Click on "Insert" then "Header" and select the first choice "Blank."

 

3.  Type the header and then enter.

 

4.  The "Insert" ribbon should still be up.  Select the down arrow next to "Page number,"  then select "Current positon" and then "Plain number."


5.  Return to "Home" ribbon, block both lines of the header, and then click on the right align button.

 

Expect the header to appeared "grayed out" but it will print properly.