Institute Office: Room 3014, CCT Building
Writing & Research Methods in Communication
Course Outline - Summer 2013
Class Location & Time Tue, 03:00 PM - 05:00 PM IB 210
Thu, 03:00 PM - 05:00 PM IB 210
Instructor Nathan Rambukkana
Office Location CCT 3013
Office Hours Tues 1:30 – 2:30
E-mail Address [email protected]
Course Web Site
Teaching Assistant Asen Ivanov
Office Location CCT 3015
Office Hours TBD
E-mail Address [email protected]
The course is a critical survey of research methodologies in the field of communications and media. A central goal of the course
is to train students to collect, manage, analyze and interpret social science research data. Assessment will be mostly based on
the completion of a small-scale research project. [24L, 12T]
Prerequisite: CCT109H5, 110H5/CCT100H5, 101H5 (SSc)
Distribution Requirement: SSc
Only the Director of the CCIT program has the authority to give permission to waive course prerequisites. The UTM calendar
states that students who lack the prerequisites for a course can be deregistered at any time.
Goals and Learning Objectives
This course introduces students to the major research paradigms and methodologies used in the field of communication studies.
Starting with the question: "What is 'methodology'?", this course will explore different types of research methods with a view to
students understanding both how to read other people's research and how to establish the knowledge base that will enable them
to formulate, organize and conduct their own research. Touching on topics such as theoretical versus practical methodologies,
qualitative and quantitative analyses, empirical and interpretive perspectives, database searching and citation styles, this
course will unpack and explore a range of research methods from those that focus on the process of data gathering (e.g.,
surveys, sampling, focus groups), to those focused on analysing data (e.g., content analysis, textual analysis, discourse
analysis), to those where the focus is on how one approaches the role of researcher (e.g., ethnography, participant observation,
A major goal of the course will be learning to read peer-reviewed research papers, as well as how to evaluate that research and
CCT208H5F - Rambukkana, Nathan Page 1 of 7 finally how to use it to argue a position in a properly formatted research paper.
Upon completion of the course students will be able to:
Critically examine research reports and scholarly writing with an eye to method;
Identify and understand various research methodologies used in communication studies;
Discuss the relative merits of different forms of research methodology;
Conduct keyword searches in academic databases to find peer-reviewed articles;
Read like an academic, take notes and summarize important material;
Produce an annotated bibliography of academic resources;
Use RefWorks, understand the difference between MLA and APA citations styles, and be an expert in using one of
Use the Track Changes feature of word processing software;
Evaluate their own and peers' writing, and offer edits and revisions;
Produce a literature review;
and Produce a polished, clean and well written final report.
1. Deacon, David, et al. Researching Communications. (2 Ed.). London: Hodder Arnold, 2007.
2. CT 208H5F Coursepack (Make sure it has my name on it! A Coursepack from a different semester will not contain the
Both available at UTM Bookstore.
A good solid dictionary and thesaurus.
In addition to the three required texts, there will be some supplemental readings from UofT's online holdings posted via the
course's Blackboard site.
Assessment and Grading Policies
Type Description Due Date Weight
Class Participation Attendance, Participation in Class and Workshops On-going 20%
Assignment Reading Response Papers On-going 20%
Assignment Proposal and Annotated Bibliography 2013-05-21 10%
Assignment Literature Review Assignment 2013-06-04 15%
Assignment Position Paper 2013-06-17 25%
Assignment Writing Self-Evaluation 2013-06-17 10%
Requirements and Criteria
Participation (20%): Your participation mark will be based on several factors including attendance, lateness, contribution to
class discussion and workshops, and overall engagement with class activities. In addition, there will be, throughout the term,
approx. 8-10 Learning Activities that will give you completion marks towards your participation. These could be anything
from completing an in-class activity, to bringing in a draft of a writing assignment so you can take part in peer editing in class.
CCT208H5F - Rambukkana, Nathan Page 2 of 7 from completing an in-class activity, to bringing in a draft of a writing assignment so you can take part in peer editing in class.
These activities will be on random days. None of these activities will be formally evaluated, but you get a mark if you complete
the activity. The activities will form a significant chunk of your participation mark, the rest being made up of attendance and
general participation in class activities and discussions.
Reading Response Papers (20%) [10% x 2]: For any two classes, you will write a 2 page (500 word, Times New Roman,
doublespaced) critique of the research example reading for the class that links that reading to the other class reading(s) for that
week, and to any other class readings or lectures as appropriate. Due at the start of that class (no late assignments will be
accepted). You may do these for any 2 classes we have example readings, throughout the term. You will include a 1 page précis
of the article (a concise summary in your own words), and a 1 page analysis where you will address the following questions in
relation to other class readings:
1. What method or methods are being deployed in this article?
2. If there is more than one method, how are the methods used working together in this article?
3. What role does each method play (e.g., data-gathering, analysis, adding a theoretical perspective, other)?
4. With reference to the other readings, how does the research conducted in the article reflect (or fail to reflect) the
important facets of that type of research method?
5. What is the relationship between researcher and researched in this article? (For example, are those researched considered
subjects, participants, co-contributors? Is the researcher a removed observer, invested party, or also a participant
6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of using this research method for this kind of research?
7. Would other kinds of research method be more appropriate? Why? or Why not?
Proposal and Annotated Bibliography (10%): For this first assignment, on May 21 you will submit a one page proposal in
which you will outline a subject area you are interested in researching during the term. In addition you will submit an
annotated bibliography of 10 peer-reviewed academic journal articles that you will use for your literature review and position
paper. A substantial part of the mark for this assignment will be for the proper use of MLA/APA style references. More specific
details of what will be required for the proposal and bibliography will be distributed in Lecture 2.
Literature Review Assignment (15%): Building on the material you found for your Annotated Bibliography, your literature
review will inform readers on a topic of interest to you related to the field of communication. You are not making an argument,
but rather are writing to inform an audience of academic peers about your topic. The content will be based on a minimum of 6-8
peer-reviewed academic journal articles. Non-peer-reviewed sources (e.g., from books, magazines or the Internet) may also be
used as part of your lit review, but only in addition to the peer-reviewed journal articles. You will use MLA or APA format
parenthetical documentation in the text of your assignment, and include a properly formatted MLA style "Works Cited" or APA
style "References." More details about the requirements will be given out in class. Due June 4 . th
Position Paper Assignment (25%): Building from the same material you used for the previous two assignments, with
additional material as needed, your Final Paper will be a position piece on a specific issue within the topic you have chosen.
Your position piece will be an informed argument, based in the same literature you used for the previous assignments but re-
written to make an argument rather than inform your audience. You may reuse material from the previous essay, but it will need
to be re-written, altered or adjusted to fit your argument. Format as above. More details about the requirements will be given
out in class. Due, via email, June 17 .
Writing Self-Evaluation (10%): With your final paper you will hand in a two-page (500 words) reflection on how your
writing has changed since starting the class. You will also evaluate your own position paper, based on a provided marking
template, and suggest what final mark you think it should receive and why (your suggested mark, comments and reflection will
be taken into account when we grade the position papers). Due, via email, June 17 . th
This class will involve a combination of lectures, discussions and workshops that will equally address different methods,