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Throughout this course we have discussed and observed how sociologists study communication.For this assignment you will have to study a research topic, relevant to the sociology of communication, of your choosing. During the research process you will do a brief literature review surrounding your chosen topic, write a research question about your topic and do a limited analysis of the data that you have purposefully selected to begin to answer your research question.  Following the tasks and steps below will result in your final paper. 


Task #1: Topic Proposal (1 paragraph)

You are required to hand in your chosen research topic by Thursday 4/5.I will hand back approvals or necessary changes, the following week. 

Choose a sociological topic connected to communication and media in which you are interested.  What area concerning communication and the media would you like to investigate?You can certainly use a topic discussed in class (but only one class resource in you literature review, see below). Be sure to choose a specificmedia arena of study. For example, Facebook is too broad of a topic. Yourpersonal Twitter network is too narrow.The quality and form of discussions in online forums, orrepresentations of gender in video games are on target. Whilst coming up with your topic you need to be cognizant that you will be required to find data that can bring insight into your topic (this will also help you come up with and confine your research question. See below). For example, if you are interested in discussion in online forums you will need to pick an online forum to analyze (e.g. discussions on particular YouTube videos). If you are struggling to come up with a topic you should use the course material as a jumping-off point.

Task #2: Research Paper

Literature Review: This step requires that you use the Internet (Hofstra’s library databases or Google scholar) to search for empirical studies in academic peer-reviewed sociology or communication journals. (Journals that are “peer-reviewed” send submitted papers out to experts in the field for review before deciding whether to publish them.) You are required to find and read four empirical studies(there are also book reviews within these journals; these are not empirical studies) that directly relate to your topic. Obviously, you have to use your own judgment regarding whether a given study is relevant to your topic and project.This means you might have to skim and read the abstracts of a number of empirical studies before you find the ‘right’ ones. (A list of many sociology journals can be found here:

Writing up the literature review: Once you have found and read your related empirical studies you need to analyze and synthesize the articles. First, summarize and describe to me the findings of the academic articles that are related to your topic. Second, describe to me what you learned from these empirical studies. Third, describe to me what you wish you had learned. That is, think about the questions about your topic that still remain unanswered.  Finally, try to answer the question: how would you better conduct a sociological research project to explore your research topic?


Developing a research question or questions: Now that you have carefully considered and thought about your topic as well as read, assessed and written about four empirical studies related to your topic it is time to write at least one research question of your own.These questions will necessarily be more focused than the overarching topic. Think about a question that you can tentatively answer through a limited empirical investigation. For example, following from our previous topic examples, how do people discuss the most popular 2015 music videos on YouTube? Or, how is gender represented/signified in the top grossing video games of 2015?


Provide hypothesis or expectations: Using the concepts we have discussed in this class and the concepts within your literature review, describe what you think you would find when empirically answering your research question. 


Describing the data: You will be required to assess some primary data in order to answer your research question.  This is why it is very important to ask a question that is confined and thus ‘answerable’. In this section you want to take a moment to describe what data you are looking at and how it will help you answer your research question. Continuing with our online forum example, you could pick a sample of the music videos that made the 2015 Billboard top ten list and then read, assess and code the first 20 or so comments within their respective comment sections. It is here that you would describe the music videos linked to the comment sections you are analyzing. For the videogame example you could take a sample of twenty videogames from the top 100 grossing videogames for 2015. It is here you will want to describe how and why you selected this data (the comments and their connected music videos and the video games).


Analyzing the data: In this section you will dive into your data and describe what you find.  What does dialogue look like on the onlineforums you have selected?  How is gender represented or signified in the video games you analyzed? You will want to provide good detail about the patterns (similarities or differences), or lack there of, you find in your data. 


Conclusion: Finally, you will want to compare your findings to the findings and arguments presented in the literature you assessed.  As well as compare your actual empirical findings to the expectations/hypothesis you described.  


Paper Breakdown:

Introduction/Statement of Topic (1 paragraph)

Literature Review (2-3 pages)

Research Question (1 paragraph)

Expectations/Hypothesis (1-2 paragraphs)

Describing the data (1-2 paragraphs)

Analyzing the data (1-2 pages)

Conclusion (1-2 paragraphs)


Total pages around 6 (Maximum 10)



Be sure to complete every task and answer all of the questions; you should be able to complete your research paper assignment in around 6 pages: double spaced, one inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font.  

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