Examining Interpersonal Communication by finding, reading, and analyzing original, scholarly sources

Purpose:  This paper gives you the opportunity to examine an area of interpersonal communication in a more in-depth manner by finding, reading, and analyzing original, scholarly sources on a topic of interest to you.  My hope is also that you learn how to write a good literature review that will help you in your future writing assignments.  

What is a literature review?  A literature review is an examination of the published work by researchers and scholars on a given topic.  A literature review should synthesize the information from the existing literature and organize it in a meaningful way.  It is not a separate summary of each source or article.  Additionally, a literature review should offer a critique of the existing literature, such as by discussing the strengths and weaknesses as well as areas that are in need of further investigation.    

Description:  This assignment lets you examine an area of interpersonal communication that you find interesting.  Your final paper must have at least five sources. Of the five sources, at least three sources must be scholarly research articles.  By scholarly, I mean that the articles should come from published peer-reviewed journals, NOT magazines, newspapers, conference papers, dissertations/theses, or books.  Some good journals to look at are Communication Monographs, Journal of Communication, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Personal Relationships, to name a few.  If you have any questions about whether your sources are appropriate, please ask me.    

In your paper, you should synthesize the studies and articles that you examined, focusing on the major findings.  You must carefully read the entirety of each article, but you should focus especially on the Discussion section.  Please note my use of the word synthesize.  I do not want a separate summary of each article; rather, I want you to present an overall picture of what you have learned from studying a small body of literature on this particular aspect of our everyday communication.  Your paper should be organized into three thematic subsections, each with a clear and separate heading.  Some questions that may be useful to think about are:  What questions is the research trying to answer?  What connections or similarities do you see between these studies?  Are the findings consistent with each other?  How are the studies different?  

An important part of every literature review is a critique of the literature.  You should consider what the studies that you reviewed did well and what was limiting about the studies you reviewed. It is often helpful to carefully review the Method section when critiquing the literature.  You can also think about gaps in the research overall when constructing your critique.  Your critique of the literature will be a separate, labeled section and will lead up to at least one Research Question or Hypothesis.  In other words, you should end with a question or educated guess about your topic that was not answered in the literature you reviewed, but that you think future research should examine.  You should provide a clear rationale for your research question/hypothesis. 

Your paper should conform to APA format 6th edition.  You need to provide a title page and reference list and you need to appropriately cite all sources using APA format. Please note that you need to put the material into your own words.  One or two direct quotes are okay, but only when completely necessary, and only when cited correctly.  

Evaluation:  This paper should be 5-6 pages in length (excluding title page and references), typed, and double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins. This should be a formal paper, and as such should include an introduction and conclusion.  Close attention will be paid to grammar and organization.  As mentioned, you should properly cite all sources according to APA style, 6th edition.  Your final paper will be worth up to 35 points.

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