J641 Qualitative Research Methods

Summary of Assignments

Under Development: Last Updated 1-2-07

Research Essay

The primary research work of the seminar will be to propose, to organize, to conduct, and to present, in both written and oral form, a preliminary study in communications that utilizes at least two qualitative methods of analysis: participant-observation, in-depth interviewing, and document analysis. The expected length is 20-25 pages. double-space, one-inch margins 12 point, Courier font, and using consistent style for citations.

Writing Requirements

All written assignments are required to be typewritten, double-space, one-inch margins, 12-point Courier font, and to conform to a single style for references.

Writing Assignments

1. Proposed research question and applicability of at least two qualitative methods (2-3 pages). Due at the start of class Jan. 17.

2. Revised research question and preliminary report on the availability and appropriateness of sources relevant to your topic. Due at the start of class Jan. 29.

3. Preliminary research report and analysis of first qualitative methods trial; implications for your research question and subsequent research. Due at the start of class Feb. 5.

4. Report on participant-observation, including field notes. Due at the start of class Feb. 12.

5. Report on interviewing, including your list of questions, and their usefulness in achieving the desired results. Due at the start of class Feb. 19.

6. The organization and expanded outline (3-5 pages) of your research essay, pulling together the research question, selected methods, tentative analysis, and proposed interpretation. Due at the start of class March 5.

The completed research essay (20-25 pages). Due by the end of the scheduled final examination period, Monday, March 19, 5 p.m.

Oral Presentations

Seminar members who are applying interviewing, document analysis, participant-observation or other qualitative methods in their research will be responsible for reporting to the class on the strengths and limitations of at least one of these approaches, both in terms of methodology and as applied to your individual projects. Choose one or more methods primary to your research and join in organizing a group discussion at the appropriate class meeting.

Tentative group discussion schedule

Subject to change by in-class agreement

Document Analysis, Feb. 21 

Participant-Observation: Feb. 28.

Interviewing: March 7.

Individual Project Reports, March 12, 14, 19.


All work will be evaluated on the basis of clarity, focus, relevance, and depth of analysis. Written assignments will be evaluated on literary standards appropriate to professional researchers and communicators. Deadlines will be enforced and late penalties applied.

Written Reports: 40%

Oral Presentations: 20%

Final Essay: 30 %

Class Participation: 10%

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to do their own work and to attribute fully any information obtained from other sources. Submission of plagiarized material will result in an automatic F for the assignment, and potentially for the course. See the Student Conduct Code for information on definitions and possible penalties.