Content analysis of the #handsupdontshoot on Instagram

Content analysis of the #handsupdontshoot on Instagram

COMM 301 – Final Research Project (300 points)
Final project due December 9 @ 11:59 PM

This is your final, and largest project for COMM 301. In this assignment, you will have the opportunity to create a qualitative research project and report your results to your classmates.

Step 1:  Topic creation and concepts identified
Before beginning, you should think about potential topics of interest. You might choose to do this someplace where you have access to research that’s already been written about this topic (i.e. at the computer and/or in the library), as it means you can do a few preliminary searches about your topic to ensure there will be enough out there to inform your study.

Now, you will need to theorize about the topic. In this phase, you will identify, conceptualize, and operationalize the variables you’re interested in. At this point, you’ll definitely need to consult with the literature to see what others have found out about this topic.

Step 2:  Method(s) selection
After you have decided on your topic, refined your research questions, and spent some time conceptualizing and operationalizing your main concepts of interest, you’ll need to decide how you will answer the research questions you’ve posed. You should consider both the nature of your research question and the amount of time you have to complete this assignment when thinking through how you will conduct your content analysis and interviews.

Step 3:  Collect observations
At this point, you will have enough information to start collect observations for your study. Remember to take clear and precise field notes, as these will be incredibly important as you analyze your data. Be sure to backup your notes often, and think creatively about collecting your observations (for example, you can use Skype or FB chat for interviews). As you collect your observations, keep returning to (and tweaking) your conceptualization of the topic. Research is a conversation between your research questions, data, method, and observations, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to really think about your topic and brainstorm with your peers. For your content analysis be sure to spend plenty of time immersing yourself in the texts you will analyze, and do a couple of pilot tests with a few samples to make sure your codebook/codesheets are clear.

Step 4:  Research analysis and write-up
The more precise your observations are, the easier it will be to write conduct your analysis. We will discuss some strategies for analyzing/interpreting your data in class.

After completing your observations, you’ll write up the results and present them in a research report. A rough draft is due in class on December 4. The final project is due via email at 11:59 PM on December 9.

Please use the bolded section headings below to organize your paper.

Abstract – Include a short summary of what your study is about and what your findings were. You should write this last so that it accurately reflects what you actually did for your project.

Introduction – What is this study about (topic)? Why is it important? Several areas should be included in this section:
Literature review – Explain what others have said about this topic. Conceptually define the terms important in your study. In this section, your goal is to build an argument based on the existing literature that naturally suggests the importance of your study and approach.
Research question(s) – State your research question(s) and/or hypotheses as clearly as possible, and explain how they tie to the research that’s already been conducted in this area.

Site of study and methods
Setting – describe the setting of your study. For your content analysis, briefly describe the material that served as your data corpus.
Sampling – Explain your sampling strategy. For this project, it will likely be a non-random (purposive/convenience) sample. If you are conducting a content or discourse analysis, be sure to clearly outline how you selected the texts you are examining.
Data collection  – Describe how you collected your data. Describe in detail your process for collecting observations about this topic. Include things like what medium you used to conduct your interviews (email, Skype, FB chat, in-person, etc.) in this section.
Data analysis – How did you analyze your data? We’ll be discussing this more in class.

Findings – This should be the longest section of your paper. A good way to present findings is to do the following:
Present a finding
Show an example of the finding
Comment on the example
Show a second example
Comment on the example (and so on)
When finished with the examples, transition to the next finding

See “Writing a qualitative report” for an excellent discussion of how you should think about writing up your findings for the interview portion of the study. For your content analysis, you’ll need to pay close attention to providing examples of your findings along with graphical representations (using charts and graphs). Creating well-designed tables takes time and effort. See “Making Data Meaningful” (from the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe). And follow Edward Tufte’s rules for presenting data.

Conclusion – In this section, relate your results back to your research questions. Do they support or disconfirm them? In this section, your paper should, (1) provide a brief summary of the most important aspects of your introduction and results section; (2) explain how your RQs were answered; (3) discuss any limitations to your study’s findings (threats to reliability/validity go here); and (4) offer some possible future studies that might be useful to conduct in light of your findings.

References – List your references in correct APA format. Your final paper should include at least 10 scholarly references from which you cite. If you’ve correctly conceptualized your topic and thought about your research question a bunch, you should have NO PROBLEM referencing at least 10 scholarly sources.

Appendix – In your appendix, attach a copy of your interview topic guide (interview schedule) and a copy of your codebook and codesheet.

Step 5:  Poster presentation (150 points)
A detailed rubric and more information about the poster presentation is posted on Blackboard.

Basics:
3000-4000 words (yes, you can go over this amount with no penalty, but being much under it will significantly affect your grade)
Citations and paper format should use APA 5th/6th edition guidelines
Papers are due via e-mail (amass@uic.edu) by 11:59 PM on Monday, December 9. Label your paper with your last name (lastname.pdf or lastname.doc).

A detailed grading rubric is posted on BlackBoard.

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