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you will be a quantitative researcher and social scientist. You will need to develop a research project (fairly narrow in scope) in which you do some sort of quantitative “content analysis” of a set of persuasive messages in the public forum. Please note that you should do a quantitative analysis of a set of messages—this project does not call for and should not involve “human subjects” (most notably, any type of survey research or laboratory research in which data are collected from people). For example, you might do a quantitative study of television commercials, TV newscasts, newspaper editorials, political speeches, “personal ads,” college recruitment brochures, letters to the editor, tweets, commercial jingles, websites, magazine ads, restaurant menus, and so on.
This paper (suggested length: 10-12 pages) should include these components:
1. Statement of a specific research question or questions. Here your language needs to be very precise: what exactly are you trying to determine? (By the way, for reasons that will be discussed in class, I think it is more appropriate here to provide “research questions” rather than “hypotheses.”)
2. Explanation of your research method. How do you intend to answer this research question? What type(s) of quantitative methods will you employ, and why?
3. Data collection and analysis. Now that you’ve collected your data, what are the results? What does it mean? Your data presentation does not have to be highly sophisticated and technical, but it should be clear. Consider graphs and tables as one way to help the reader in this regard.
4. Discussion. Looking back on what you’ve done, what parts of the study were well-executed? What aspects could have been done differently, and perhaps better? What issues connected to quantitative research are relevant to your study? This is also a place to discuss limitations of your research, as well as possible problems with the project.
In general, use the basic format that is employed for most any journal article in the social sciences.
A “good” project will have a clear focus. It will be orderly and systematic. The way in which the variables are operationalized will seem reasonable. The data collection will be intelligible. And because you are doing academic research, you will strive to be objective—this is not a situation where you are trying to “prove a point” or “make an argument,” although you may well draw some conclusions from the data you gather. This is also largely “descriptive” research, not “explanatory” research. Avoid any research questions that attempt to determine whether a persuasive message is “effective” and why—you will not be able to measure or determine “effectiveness” with this type of research methodology. (You would probably need human subjects, and they are not allowed for this assignment.) But you can help the reader understand the nature of this set of persuasive messages by the type of quantitative content analysis of them that you do.
A “good” project will also find some middle ground between being “too simple” and “too complex.” You could, for example, simply count the number of commercials on a particular TV network during a one-week period—but if that’s all you did, it would be a very short paper! On the other hand, if you counted those commercials, and then did an analysis of them in terms of gender themes, emotional appeals, visual elements, music, humor, and the use of language, you would have a project that is too unwieldy. Your goal is to have a focus that is sufficiently simple to be manageable, but sufficiently involved to be interesting, revealing, and informative. Your goal is to give the reader a better and deeper understanding of how these persuasive messages are constructed.
Since this is designed to be a project involving quantitative reasoning, I would expect in most cases that your sample of messages should be appropriately large. Doing a study with 5 or 10 messages as your data set is probably insufficient; for most projects, samples would have to be at least in the range of 25-30.
you will be a quantitative researcher and social scientist. You will need to develop a research project (fairly narrow in scope) in which you do some sort of quantitative “content analysis” of a set of persuasive messages in the public forum.