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COMM 110: Quantitative Research Methods: Building Block I

Research guide for students taking COMM 110

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Building Block I: Research Project Idea Generation and Annotated Bibliography

This assignment has two primary goals: First, to give you a starting point for developing a research proposal and second, to illustrate the brainstorming process of generating research topics. Ultimately, you will be developing a cogent argument starting from your general topic and ending with a specific prediction (hypothesis). While I am not expecting you to have your final topic idea completed at this point, you should have an idea of what might interest you (or things that you have questions about) regarding communication. Most importantly, this building block will get you thinking about forming appropriate arguments surrounding your topic area and eventually leading to a research prediction in BBII.

Part A: Communication Research Topic Area 

For this part of the paper, I want you to describe a general topic area, problem, or question about communication that you are interested in. Try to be specific in stating your topic/problem/question. The goal here is not to develop a formal research question, rather a general topic area that you are going to narrow as you develop your project. Remember, your topic must be communication-related (as we have defined in class). You can use any domain of communication, as we have defined it in the class, and must find sources that use empirical, quantitative research methods.

Here are some sample topics and questions (so that you can see the format):

  • How does nonverbal communication function to reduce conflict?
  • What is the best way to communicate leadership in the workplace?
  • What are some strategies that physicians can utilize to communicate bad news to patients?
  • Communication strategies teachers use to increase student learning.
  • How is technology used by couples in long distance relationships to create closeness?
  • How does exposure to televised food advertising impact children’s food choices?

For this part, you should do the following: 1) state your general topic; 2) provide a short explanation of your question/topic (i.e., what is it?) and make sure that you explain how this is a communication-related topic; 3) provide three short reasons why you think this is an important question/topic about communication. Please be as specific as possible in this section.  This section should be approximately ½ page.

Part B: Current Research on your Topic

For the rest of this assignment, you should use the techniques learned in the Library workshop to find at least 5 scholarly journal articles (no websites, book chapters, or conference papers) that will help you to explain your topic and/or answer the questions you asked.

If you need assistance, please stop in during office hours, or make an appointment with me, or with Sophia Neuhaus, University Librarian (

Write a one-to-two paragraph annotation for each article that: a) summarizes the purpose of the article; b) identifies at least one finding reported in the Discussion section of the article; and c) develops a short argument (1-2 sentences) that shows how this article can help you explain your topic. Use your own words as much as possible.

DO NOT simply read and report on the abstract. The goal here is for you to get a head start on your Literature Review/Rationale background research and gain some experience with summarizing and synthesizing academic research articles.

This section should be approximately 3-4 pages.

Submission and Format Guidelines

This paper should be typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman, and 1” margins on all sides of the sheet. You should have a cover page consistent with APA style. You should also have a references page consistent with APA style. Finally, make sure that your in-text citations (when you are talking about each of the articles) are in APA style. Submit this paper through Camino by the deadline.

Peer Evaluation Assignment

Two hours after the deadline, you will be randomly assigned another student’s paper to peer review.  You will have until midnight the night after the paper is due to complete the Peer Review assignment. See the Assignment for Building Block I Peer Review for instructions.