Format: 4-7 pages, typewritten. Follow any style manual of your choice (usually

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Format: 4-7 pages, typewritten. Follow any style manual of your choice (usually APA). You are strongly encouraged to check out “tips for college writing” on my internet homepage. The paper is due December 7. Attach the cover sheet. The idea: This class is designed to get you up to speed enough to be able to read the methods section of a scholarly article. This assignment is to look up an article in your field, read it, and be able to understand, synthesize, and critically assess the methods section of the paper. All parts of the paper should be a summary put in your own words; do NOT copy sections out of the paper and re-paste them. Use quotations from the paper sparingly, and make sure that you cite them appropriately. You are encouraged to use headings to divide up your sections. Step 1: Find an article in your field. Human Communication Research, Communication Reports, Communication Monographs, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, etc., are good titles. Anything published by a regional or national communication organization is fair game. DOWNLOAD A .PDF OF THE ARTICLE and turn it in with your paper. You should make sure that the methods section of your article involves material we have covered in class, and that it is a topic that you have some interest in and can understand. The article must have been published in 2000 or more recently. They are virtually all available electronically via the library. Step 2: Figure out the research question, any hypotheses, and define any technical terms so that a lay reader could understand. Make this the first section of your paper; it should be about a page long. If the paper has lots of research questions and hypotheses, focus on ONE and identify that you are doing so (and not discussing the rest). You do NOT need to list hypotheses your paper doesn’t address. Step 3: Explain the research design. What were the independent and dependent variables? How were they measured? Were they categorical or continuous? Was it a survey, a content analysis, coded behavior? If it was behavior, was the behavior naturally occurring or artificially induced? What statistic was used (make sure you tie your discussion of the stat used to your description of the variables)? Make sure you report the results, including the raw data, value of the test statistic, p value, and magnitude. It is really helpful if you can summarize all the quantitative stuff in a single sentence or two in plain English, like this: “The study found that females had lower average Communication Anxiety scores (mean = 17.2) than males did (mean = 21.3), but there were no differences on other dependent measures.” This should be the second section of your paper and should be 1-3 pages long. Link the results back to the hypotheses and report whether the hypotheses were confirmed or denied. Do NOT review the demographics of the sample unless they are related to your assessment. Do NOT discuss any variables that are not included in the hypothesis you are assessing. Step 4: Assess the study, beginning with a simple statement of the author’s conclusions. Are their internal or external validity problems? Was reliability reported? Was it sufficient? Was the sample sufficient? Is there a way the study could have been done differently to make it more sound? Are there plausible rival hypotheses that should have been considered? How much confidence do you have that the findings are indicative of an actual, real relationship? Were there important variables that were left out? This should be the third section of the paper and be 1-3 pages long. Connect your conclusions to the article’s conclusions: Do you agree about what they decided? Make sure your assessment deals with Type 1 and Type 2 error (don’t criticize their study for Type 2 errors if they found significance), and focus on the overall strength of the study, not nitpicky errors. Tips: Do NOT just say that there “could” be a problem (i.e., “The sample was only students, and they might be different from the overall population.”) Say whether you THINK there is a problem (and why), and include HOW the results they got might be different from the true results in the population, and how serious an error you think this is. CONNECT EVERY STRENGTH OR WEAKNESS TO SOME CONCLUSION: Was sample size a problem? If so, which conclusion do you not trust? Does that introduce Type 1 or Type 2 error? You should ALWAYS address magnitude in your assessment and conclusion. Step 5: State your conclusions clearly. What did the study prove? Was it a good or bad study? How much confidence do you have in the findings? This should be the last section of your paper and no more than 1 page long. Again, turn in the article with the paper. The bulk of your grade will be based on how well you demonstrate a mastery of the quantitative concepts. If you have a deep understanding of them, it will show up in the section that allows you to assess the methods. The remainder of your grade will be based on how thoroughly you accomplish the rest of the work of the paper. Of course, if you fail to correctly explain the theory and variables involved in the study, you will be unable to assess the paper very well. You will make a short presentation of your findings (no more than 5 minutes) on the last week of class. The presentation should report on the single most important facet of your paper. You do not need to describe your entire paper in your presentation; you only have to summarize its most important point. Use visual aids or the marker board if it will help clarify your point. IF YOU NEED A COPY OF YOUR PAPER TO MAKE YOUR PRESENTATION, MAKE A COPY OF IT BEFORE YOU TURN IT IN TO ME. Quick style notes: Obviously, if you have beginning quote marks, you should have end quote marks. Punctuation always occurs inside the quote marks. This is wrong: “baseball”. This is right: “baseball.” Space before and after every term in statistical copy. This is wrong: F=1.23, p<.05. This is right: F = 1.23, p < .05. Always underline statistical terms, like p, F, r, etc. If you start a sentence with a number, write the number out. Final Paper Cover sheet Formal hypothesis: Independent Variables and levels (if categorical): Dependent Variables and levels (if categorical): Raw Data: Statistic used to test: Value of test statistic: Significance level (p value): Is the hypothesis confirmed? Magnitude: One-sentence summary: Final Paper Cover sheet (example from Sparks and Ogles) Formal hypothesis: Blunters will report comparatively more negative affect when they receive a high level rather than a low level of prior emotional information about the film. (H2 in text on p. 3) Independent Variables and levels (if categorical): Emotional coping style. Levels: Monitor (wants information), blunter (does not want information) Dependent Variables and levels (if categorical): Negative affect (emotion) – continuous. Measured with 4 self-eport items in an “Index of Negative Emotion.” Raw Data: The Index of Negative emotion did not obtain significance and thus no raw data were reported. There was significance for one of the four items, however. For “desire to see more of the film,” the means were: Blunters/forewarned: 3.0 Blunters/not forewarned: 6.6 Monitors/forewarned: 5.2 Monitors/not forewarned: 5.2 Statistic used to test: ANOVA Value of test statistic: F = 6.6 Significance level (p value): .01 (it IS statistically significant) Is the hypothesis confirmed? The hypothesis is partially confirmed. One of four items demonstrated an interaction effect. Magnitude: Blunters scored 3.6 points lower on a 9-point scale (40% of the possible difference) in different forewarning condition. There was no difference for monitors. One-sentence summary: Blunters who are forewarned will be less likely to want to see more of a scary movie than those who are not forwarned, and there is no difference for monitors.

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