JMC 102- Spring 2020
Research Paper Assignment
This assignment asks you to write a scholarly research paper that discusses and analyzes a current trend in one of the fields of mass communication in the United States. All of the media industries are currently experiencing dramatic changes and there are many possible subjects for this research paper. For the purpose of this assignment, a trend is any clearly identifiable change that is taking place at the current time. It can be something has been going on for a little while or something very recent, but it must still be happening. (In other words, you should not write about something that happened in the past and it not happening anymore.) This assignment asks that you identify and study one of these trends. You can select a trend in the field or journalism, broadcasting, publishing, filmmaking, communication design, social media, advertising, or public relations. The paper should be about something that is happening in the United States. The trend can also be happening in other places, but it should not be something that is only happening in foreign countries. It is important to narrow your topic to something that can be covered in a 6-8 page paper. A good paper will answer these basic questions:
1. What is the trend? Clearly explain what is happening and how it is causing a change in the industry.
2. Who or what is driving the change? Is it an economic force? A group of people in the industry? Changes in consumer habits?
3. Are people in the industry excited or concerned about the trend, or both? Why? You might find a difference of opinion within the industry, with some people viewing the change as positive and others seeing it as negative. Make sure you analyze this carefully.
4. What effect will this change have on the profession or industry? What might the industry look like in the near future if this trend continues?
Papers should display an appropriate level of research. You must consult and use material from at least six different quality sources of information. At least three of your sources must be academic books or journal articles. Plan to make use of the MU Librarys databases and e-book collections. Librarians are available online to assist you with your research. Use of sources that meet the tests of evidence is critical for this assignment. You will probably need to find statistics, economic data, expert opinions, or other kinds of concrete information that will allow you to clearly explain what is happening. Given the nature of this course, research is an important element of the assignment and a large portion of your grade will depend on how thoroughly you do your work. Take extra care to use relevant, credible, authoritative sources.
Some of your research material should come from a professional point of view. You might wish to interview a professional in the industry or a scholar who studies it. Trade publications are also valuable sources.
A good paper will have an introduction and a conclusion. Describing a few specific examples of people, businesses, or organizations that are part of the trend is encouraged.
Papers should be 6-8 pages in length, double-spaced and include a works cited page. All source material must be properly cited in APA format. Evidence of plagiarism will result in an F on the assignment. Although APA style normally requires an author to create a title page or write an abstract, you should not do so for this assignment. Papers should use the running head and page numbers as is typical with APA style.

There is no formal rubric for the assignment, but these are points that will be taken into consideration when grading the papers:
– Is the trend clearly defined? Is there enough evidence to demonstrate this is a real trend?
– Does the paper answer the questions outlined in the assignment guidelines? Are they
answered clearly and thoroughly?
– Is there a good introduction that sets up the purpose of the paper? A good conclusion?
– Are relevant real-world examples included at appropriate points in the paper to make it
– What sources are used? Are they credible and high-quality sources? Are they relevant
to the specific topic of the paper?
– How many writing errors (mis-spellings, bad usage and grammar, formatting errors,
typos) are in the paper? There should be zero.
– Does the paper make use of APA style correctly? Is it apparent the student made a good-
faith effort to learn APA and use it properly?
– Is the assignment submitted on time?
Papers will be submitted electronically. The paper is due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 24. Late papers will be marked down 5 points per day until they are submitted. No papers will be accepted after April 30.


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