Research Paper
or Thesis

Research Paper or Thesis

COMM 5950
Research Project (3)
Required research project approved by student's graduate advisor /committee chair prior to submission to the Graduate College.
Only graduate faculty members can serve as advisor/committee chair; associate graduate faculty members can serve on the committee.
3-person committee; All committee members available to assist student with research paper; only advisor/committee chair must approve student's research paper.
COMM 599 A. B
Thesis Writing (3, 3)
Preparation of an in-depth thesis approved by the student's graduate advisor/committee chair and the other two graduate faculty members of the student's committee.
Only graduate faculty members can serve as advisor/committee chair; associate graduate faculty members can serve on the committee.
3-person committee;
All members of committee must approve students thesis.

In the Communication Arts M. A., there are currently only two options for fulfillment of the research component for our graduate students, either a research project [COMM 5950, Research Project (3)] for a total of 3 semester hours or a thesis [COMM 599, A, B, Thesis Writing (3, 3)] for a total of 6 semester hours.

First is the research project option. For Communication Arts this means a full blown research paper that incorporates all aspects of the APAs Publication Manual for the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) including introduction, method, results, and discussion. The Communication Department, unlike many colleges and departments at APSU, requires a complete research paper to fulfill the research component. This can involve a creative activity, but always requires a written component. This research project is completed under the COMM 5950 course for three semester hours of credit.

Many graduate students fail to understand that this research project or a thesis has many alternatives, but all require a complete research paper as defined by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (6th ed.). Thus, a research paper is a some type of a communication inquiry or investigation resulting in a written paper that contains: (a) an introduction with a specific topic, a research problem (research hypothesis, question or proposition), a rationale and justification, theoretical foundation or framework, and a review of relevant literature for the research problem; (b) a detailed method detailing a quantitative and/or qualitative method, research project design, research instruments and procedures, subjects and subject confidentiality, timetable, data collection means, data storage means, and security for data storage; (c) research results with data collection and analysis, display, and presentation; and, (d) research discussion meaning the interpretation and explanation/evaluation of all the results, meaning of the results, statement of limitations and usefulness of the study, statement of future opportunities for more research based on this study, and the conclusions of this research. A thesis is primarily handled by one individual graduate faculty member and that person is the student's selected major advisor and committee chairperson. This committee chairperson/major advisor guides and facilitates the student through the completion of the research project.

Some of these research project options include, but clearly are not limited to: campaign or case study evaluations with written analysis; website criticism and written analysis paper; criticism of video programs with written research analysis paper; development of a website or websites with accompanying justification and analysis paper; comprehensive reviews of literature on communication issues, events, or topics done as a research paper; historiographies analysis and/or criticism of communication events and issues and accompanying reviews and analyses as a research paper; video and/or audio productions with accompanying justification or analysis research paper; development of an advertising, marketing, or PR campaign presented as a detailed research paper; a survey project with a written research paper offering data analysis and interpretation; and many, many others.

Second, the Communication Arts M. A. program also affords graduate students with the the option of a thesis which is a six semester hours, and much more comprehensive, original research alternative. A thesis involves an original research work adding new knowledge or extending knowledge to the communication discipline. A thesis primarily involves some type of extended and much more detailed social scientific research, investigation, and inquiry into a communication issue, event, or topic. A thesis is much more extensive research than a research project. The thesis involves six semester hours of credit under the COMM 599 A, B, Thesis Writing (3, 3) course. A thesis is managed by the student's graduate faculty major adviser and thesis committee chairperson. However, the other two graduate faculty members that, along with the major adviser, constitute the student's thesis committee are also actively involved with the thesis. Upon completion of the thesis, the student's original work is examined through an oral defense of the work by the three graduate faculty committee members. A thesis is usually preferred for doctoral study in the communication discipline should a graduate student opt to pursue a Ph. D. following completion of the M. A. in Corporate Communication.

Students have the semester in which they register for COMM 5950 or COMM 599A, B PLUS two additional semesters (fall and spring) to complete their thesis or research project before having to register continually thereafter in COMM 5991, Research Completion Requirement (1 semester hour). This is unusual for any Graduate College to offer a full one academic year in which to complete the research requirement without any financial fee or tuition payment which is still another advantage of graduate study at Austin Peay State University.