Assignment Two: Research Project

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School of Arts and Humanities
Division of Communications, Media and Culture
MMAPP12 Mass Media Research Methods
Assignment Two: Research Project
Academic Year 2021
This individual assignment requires you to complete a practical research project. It is due by 12.00
noon Friday 16th April 2021.
Learning outcomes
After completing this assignment, you should be able to:
1. Demonstrate an extended critical understanding of philosophy, ethics, and practices of social
research.
2. Demonstrate practical understanding of research methodologies, tools and techniques, and how
these relate to media and audience studies.
3. Demonstrate critical awareness and critical thinking in developing, planning and executing
appropriate research designs to address research questions.
4. Demonstrate critical awareness of ethical and practical problems associated with the use of
specific methods and strategies to deal with these.
Brief and structure (overview)
For this assignment you have the option of undertaking a practical exercise in qualitative methods
(option one) or an exercise in quantitative methods (option two). In summary, choose either:
• Option One: Research Interview Report (qualitative exercise). This requires you to undertake,
analyse, and write-up two semi-structured interviews. This includes methodological design
aspects, and a reflective component.
• Option Two: Research Survey Report (quantitative exercise). This requires you to complete the
collation and analysis of a sample of survey data. This includes data analysis procedures and
design, a reflective component, and a critique of the survey method used.
It is recommended that you select the option that most closely reflects the approach/method(s)
that you have specified in your research proposal (i.e. to provide you with practical experience of
method application prior to undertaking your dissertation/project). Once you have selected the
relevant option please then refer to the appropriate detailed brief in either appendix one or two of
this brief.
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Appendix One: Research Interview Report
This requires you to undertake, analyse, and write-up two semi-structured interviews. This includes
methodological design and reflection on design (details below).
Brief
Your interview topic is: persuasive communication.
You should ask your interviewees if they can recall a recent example of a public communication
campaign message that was successful in influencing or changing their attitude or behaviour
(political decision, consumer behaviour, health behaviour etc.). Once identified, you should then
explore what aspects of the communication influenced their response (e.g. source
credibility/likeability, nature of the message, their personal beliefs etc.).
Note. you have the freedom to pose the above as a set of general questions (i.e. allowing your
interviewees to self-identify a message to discuss), or to focus on a specific discipline and/or topic
(e.g. PR and COVID-19, Health Communication and Social Media, Advertising and Climate Change).
You should clearly state your choice and the purpose of the project (i.e. general or pre-specified
topic) in the introduction to your interview report (and section #2: Interview design).
You will practice your interview skills (designing and conducting interviews) and data analysis
(thematic analysis utilising NVivo) in scheduled seminar sessions. Please check module timetable for
specific dates. You will then be required to design, conduct, transcribe and analyse two
semistructured interviews on the topic of persuasive communication and write up a report.
Ethics approval: Please note that you are required to secure ethics approval, which needs to be
submitted together with uploaded and fully completed interview information sheet and consent
forms through the University Ethics Review Management (ERM) (you can access ERM from your
Portal home page in the “I want to…” section and then click on “Apply for Ethics”). Your application
has to be reviewed and approved by the Ethics Panel on ERM before you start with your interviews.
Without ethics approval in place, you will be in breach of the University of Stirling’s ethics
standards and your mark will be affected.
Once you complete the form and upload the documents, ERM will ask you to enter your supervisor’s
email. Please enter alenka.jelen@stir.ac.uk.
You need to submit your ethics application as soon as possible after the Week Seven session, but no
later than Monday, 29 March.
Once you obtain your ethics approval and before you conduct your interviews, you will need to ask
your participants to read the approved information sheet before signing the consent form. Once
they sign the consent form and return to you (electronic signatures are acceptable), you can proceed
with your interviews. Information sheet and the consent forms need to be included in the
appendices of your assignment.
Your documented submission will take the form of an interview report. Word count is 2000 words
(maximum ± 10% deviation). In your report you should demonstrate fundamental understanding of
epistemologies underpinning qualitative research, interview application and design, and qualitative
data analysis. In relation to the previous general overview of the interview method, you should then
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specify your own interview design (what you asked, and how you asked) including design rationale
(for design choices). You should also demonstrate understanding of the practical challenges of
conducting interviews, and specify the design steps that you took in advance to mitigate. You should
also specify the steps you took to adhere with ethical guidelines for research involving human beings
(and including completed information sheets and consent forms). Finally, you should also include a
reflective component (e.g. the questions you asked and how you asked them, your own bias and
experience and how these might have influenced your interviews, what you have learnt from this
exercise, and with the benefit of hindsight, what you might have done differently). All key points
and conclusions (and including the rational for your design choices) should be supported by evidence
of informed decisions (i.e. drawing from research methods textbooks and/or previous relevant
studies, supporting your findings with data and excerpts from the interviews).
You are expected to include the following sections in the research interview report:
1. Description of the interview setting: e.g., research topic/central question, context, participants,
environment.
2. Interview design: e.g., design guidelines/principles followed, questions and sub-questions
design, running order and interview guide.
3. Analytical approach: e.g., description of analytical approach and process.
4. Findings: e.g., a thematic and conceptual overview of the interview findings based on thematic
analysis. Tables, models, or graphs if appropriate.
5. Ethical issues: e.g. informed consent, confidentiality, accuracy, data management.
6. Conclusion and critical reflection: e.g., outline quality, limitations and critical evaluation of data
generated based on qualitative scientific criteria relevant to your research. Include your
personal learning outcomes.
7. References: Harvard Stirling University style to be used (see below).
8. Appendices: interview guide; interview transcripts (transcribed into English if interviews are
conducted in other language); list or map of themes/codes; information sheet; consent forms.
Please note that you must submit all these materials with your report. Without them, your
submission will be considered as incomplete and graded accordingly.
Word count and presentation
The word count for the Research Interview Report is 2000 words with a maximum allowance of ±
10% deviation. Any material used in appendices, tables or annexes will not count towards the word
count. However, keep in mind that appendices, tables and annexes should provide an additional
understanding and support your assignment rather than serve as a “dumping” area for text, which
would exceed the word count. Include a word count at the end of your assignment (before the
reference list).
Ensure that you use Harvard Stirling University referencing style correctly (see:
https://libguides.stir.ac.uk/Referencing). Grammar and spelling should also be carefully checked.
British spelling should be used, not American (your computer setting can be altered). You should
use a readable typeface such as Arial, with pages numbered. Long quotes (over one sentence) should
be indented and single-spaced.
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Submission
This assignment is due by 12.00 noon Friday 16th April 2021. Electronic versions must be submitted
via the digital assessment submission facility in Canvas or in case of technical difficulties emailed to
fahgs@stir.ac.uk. Please do not email your completed assignment to the module coordinator
(marking at the University of Stirling is anonymous).
Assessment and marking criteria
The assignment is worth 40% of the mark for this module.
Final marks may have deductions applied for poor referencing style, spelling, grammar, word use,
presentation and/or not meeting the word count requirement.
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Appendix Two: Research Survey Report
This requires you to complete the collation and analysis of a sample of survey data. This includes
data analysis procedures and methods followed (details below).
Brief
To complete this assignment, you will be provided with the following: a partially completed and
populated SPSS file of survey data; a batch of completed questionnaires still to be entered into SPSS;
links to an online calculator to work out margins of error. Prior to being able to conduct analysis of
the data set you will need to ensure that all variable properties have been correctly entered for the
pre-populated data, and that you correctly input the remaining questionnaires. You should then
select appropriate statistical techniques to analyse and report on the data.
Your documented submission will take the form of the completed SPSS data file, and a written
report. The written report should contain address the following.
Part 1) (10%) Fill in the information about variables that is missing from the SPSS data file. You will
need to input values for the Name, Label, Values, Missing and Measure columns in the variable
view in SPSS for every question (they are all currently at a default setting).
Part 2) (30%) Write a short report in which you present the results of this survey. You should
include appropriate descriptive statistics, tables, charts and graphs, and discuss the margin of
error (sampling error) in your results.
Part 3 (20%) Discuss how you could put the information from your analysis to use in planning the
university’s internal communications. Comment on any weaknesses you can find in this piece of
research and discuss how you think it could be improved.
Part 4 (40%) You notice that over 80% of your respondents have ticked an option to say they are
prepared to participate in any follow up research related to this topic. You plan to pitch a short
follow up survey to senior management, exploring other aspects of internal communications at
the university. Design a short 10 question survey (accompanied with a covering memo of up to 500
words), explaining to senior management what you hope you can find out with this additional
research.
You should create a word document, with your student number written at the start, in which you
will write a report on this survey and your proposal for a follow up survey (parts 2, 3 & 4 of
assignment tasks above). You should submit this document to the Coursework [Assignment 2]
assignment in Canvas for MMAPP12. Save the SPSS data file for use throughout this assignment
(part 1 of the assignment task) and then submit it in Canvas (+ Add another file’ option) when you
submit your report. You should name these two files yourstudentnumber.doc and your student
number.sav. (e.g. 2345987.doc and 2345987.sav)
Word count and presentation
The word count for the Research Survey Report is 2000 words with a maximum allowance of ± 10%
deviation. Any material used in appendices, tables or annexes will not count towards the word
count. However, keep in mind that appendices, tables and annexes should provide an additional
understanding and support your assignment rather than serve as a “dumping” area for text, which
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would exceed the word count. Include a word count at the end of your assignment (before the
reference list).
Ensure that you use Harvard Stirling University referencing style correctly (see:
https://libguides.stir.ac.uk/Referencing). Grammar and spelling should also be carefully checked.
British spelling should be used, not American (your computer setting can be altered). You should
use a readable typeface such as Arial, with pages numbered. Long quotes (over one sentence) should
be indented and single-spaced.
Submission
This assignment is due by 12.00 noon Friday 16th April 2021. Electronic versions (written report and
completed SPSS data file) must be submitted via the digital assessment submission facility in Canvas
or in case of technical difficulties emailed to fahgs@stir.ac.uk. Please ensure that your student
number is used as part of the file name for both your written report and accompanying data file.
Please also do not email your completed assignment to your module coordinator (marking at the
University of Stirling is anonymous).
Assessment and marking criteria
The assignment is worth 40% of the mark for this module.
Final marks may have deductions applied for poor referencing style, spelling, grammar, word use,
presentation and/or not meeting the word count requirement.


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