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FMP 350 - Media Theory and Ethics

This guide provides resources to support the Media Theory and Ethics course and assignments.

Research Paper Assignment

This 10-12 page research theory paper will introduce a communication question that you wish to investigate. The paper should center on a communication theory of your choice within the field of mass communication.

As you have learned from the first few weeks of class, this is a broad field, in which many exciting developments are occurring on a daily basis. There are many topics you might choose to pursue. The topic selection is up to you – you may have some burning question or area of interest we haven’t addressed in class. Be creative in your approach to your topic.

You must use at least ten sources other than the class readings in writing your paper – more would be better. You should use primary sources whenever possible. Primary sources means original works on the subject.  Also, you should spend a significant amount of time in the library finding as many sources as you can on your topic, such as books, academic and trade journal articles.

DO NOT rely in large measure on articles from magazines like Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report. These sources can be helpful, but they usually do not provide enough in-depth information. For that reason, at least four of your sources must be primary sources, in-depth books or academic and trade journal articles.

You can certainly use the Internet for your research, but remember that it is sometimes difficult to determine the credibility of the information on a website. Carefully cite these sources by noting the URL and the company or individual listed as the web page creator. Limit your use of online sources to no more than five sources. There are exceptions to this rule for items that are merely reprinted on line, like journal articles, newspaper articles, and so forth.

You must properly cite your sources. Go to the library and look at the Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association. For a quick reference, I have provided a link to an APA formatting and style guide on the class Blackboard site. Each citation in the list of references must have the name of the author, the date of publication, the title of the publication, page numbers and journal name (if an article), and publisher information. Any direct quote or idea taken from a source must be noted as such within the text. Use the style manual for directions for citing within the text, and be VERY CAREFUL! Plagiarism will not be tolerated.

Organize your paper carefully. Include an introduction, with an identifiable thesis statement, a body, and a conclusion. Connect your ideas together with good transitions from paragraph to paragraph. Write clearly, and proofread carefully (computers have spell checkers for a reason, but a spell checker won’t correct you when you use “to” instead of “too” or “two”). Following is a suggested outline: 

I.  Introduction to the topic 

What is the issue under discussion?

Why is it an important topic at this time? (Is it currently a hot topic? Has it been a hot topic for some time? Is it a new technology that has just come on the scene? Make it sound interesting.)

Thesis statement: “This paper will...” (.5-1 page)

II.  Literature Review 

Literature reviews are designed to do two things:

1) Give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea  

2) Demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study (1-2 pages)

III. Historical perspective on the topic 

What did your extensive research reveal about this topic?

Where did this issue/topic originate, and what is its history?

Organize your review of the info so that you address several topics in an orderly fashion.

Try to address the issue from both the consumers’ and the producers’ point of view. (2-3 pages)

IV. How your topic fits into the theory of your focus

Take the major parts of the theory and apply them to your findings within your topic. (6-7 pages)

V. Conclusion 

Brief restatement of the thesis

Brief summary of what you found, and why it is important to study it.  End with something memorable. (0.5-1 page)