Analysis            (50 points)

The analysis assignment will provide you with an opportunity to apply your understanding of communication theory and method to your interpretation of the dataset in light of your research focus. One assignment per student. Full assignment description in a PDF version here.

Once you have identified your topic of focus and your object of study, and then collected your data for analysis, the next step consists of analyzing your data. Here the focus is on making sense of the data that you collected. This could take the form of a) an analysis of primary data (i.e., magazine covers or TV programming, organizational records or mission statements, policy documents or legislative bills) or b) it could be analysis of secondary sources (academic articles about media representation, media organizations, or media policies). While the first scenario draws primarily on primary data sources, you should also be thinking about strategies for analysis and social theory (i.e., academic research) that might help you to make sense of your data and/or ground your analysis. Feel free to draw exclusively on assigned readings from the course here as your secondary sources. The second scenario, however, might rely solely on secondary sources (academic research or policy papers), mimicking the format of an extended literature review. While not your final product, this analysis paper offers you the opportunity to do the work of analysis before moving on to the representation of your analysis to a public.

  1. Strategies for analysis.Your strategy for analysis will largely depend on your object of study.
    1. If you are focusing on primary data, you will want to think about strategies for analyzing primary data. Here, it is up to you and your group to identify the strategies for analysis that are appropriate for your topic and your object of focus. It would be beneficial for your group to meet with me to check-in about your ideas here, and ask for suggestions, but here are some basic guidelines:
      1. If you are looking at media content, you might draw on strategies for text analysis like content analysis, discourse analysis, or rhetorical analysis.
      2. If you are looking at organizational structures, you might engage in an organizational analysis of organizational structure, mission statements, employee/participant hierarchy, employee demographics, cross-ownership ties, or aspects of the technologies that structure participation by looking at the affordances of a given technological platform (like twitter or tumbler).
      3. If you are looking at policy analysis, you may want to identify those aspects of communication policy that impact particular groups (i.e., along boundaries like race, class, and gender), identify who the participants in the process are by looking over lobbying records, public comments, or revisions of key legislative bills.
    2. If you are looking at secondary sources only, you will want to go through an appropriate analysis of those secondary sources, looking for evidence (empirical findings) and/or social theories that help you understand your topic more thoroughly. Your analysis, then, will be a reading of other published analysis papers where you will look for themes across your sources and explain those themes in your paper. The following chapter will be helpful for you and your group as you work through this process: The challenge of writing the literature review.

Structuring your analysis paper:

Your paper should have the following structure (950-1,000 words – not including the references, list of texts, and larger data display excerpts):

The completed Word Analysis assignment should follow this format:

  1. Your group number and your full name.
  2. A clear and catchy title. Please use one colon, as in “Main title statement: more explicit title statement,” or “Taking out the laundry: Portraying domestic workers in Hollywood film.”
  3. A 100-word statement of the topical focus for your group (in the example above, this would be “portrayals of domestic workers”), and a substantive explanation for why this is an important phenomenon to examine within a focus on race, class, or gender. Feel free to build on the draft you submitted with your Proposal assignment. Include at least 1 scholarly source here.
  4. A 100-word statement of the object of study you are focusing on for your group (in the example above, this would be “Hollywood film”), that provides some substantive explanation for why this is an important set of data to be analyzing in light of your focus on media content, organization, or policy (i.e., is it influential, dominant, deviant, politically important, etc.). Feel free to build on the draft you submitted with your Proposal assignment. Include at least 1 scholarly source here.
  5. A 50-word description of your data set. This should include a) the kind of data that you are looking at, b) how you collected that data (search parameters, sampling frame, etc.), c) a justification for those choices as resulting in a valid set of data for analysis.
  6. A 50-word description of the method(s) for analysis that you employed in this analysis. Include at least 1 scholarly source here.
  7. A 600-word analysis section that includes key findings/patterns, and sufficient examples of primary data (if your are using primary data) and/or excerpts from secondary sources (if you are only using secondary sources).
  8. A 50 word conclusionthat:
    1. Restates the topic and object of study
    2. Reviews the key findings (key points from your analysis section)
  9. A list of references (in APA 5th, MLA or Chicago style) that you cited in the paper. These should be scholarly sources that help explain the method, the social problem or the area of cultural production that you are analyzing. At least one should be from outside the class readings.
  10. A list of texts that you collected in the form of a bibliography (in APA 5th, MLA or Chicago style) – not the full texts, just full citations for them. This is a separate list from the references list. Only include this if you are using primary sources.

Please turn your analysis before the first day of class on week 9 to the Assignment Drop Box:

Any additions/changes to your data set should be made to the text collection Drop Box. If you have a non-digital data set, anyone using that dataset (i.e., your group) will need to turn in the texts to the box outside my office door in UW1-143 (or talk with me about your dataset constraints). I will need to access your data set when assessing our paper.


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