540: W11 Content analysis paper
Week 11: Content Analysis Paper
Although you will work as a group on the content analysis design and coding, each student will
submit an individual five page paper. If you write less than 4.5 pages you are not making use of
the space available to you and will be deducted points. If you write more than 5.5 pages you are
writing too much and you will be deducted points. Your paper is therefore expected to be
between 4.5 and 5.5 pages in length. This page count does not include the title page, reference
page, or any appendix. You may work together on the statistical analyses if you wish. However,
the writing of the paper should be completed individually.
NOTE: the expectation is you write a paper in a research methods style.
o This means in the same style as the typical paper you have been reading in the
readings for each week so far in the course.
o This means using citations to support claims, statements, facts or opinions you
present. When you write the paper do not write anywhere about the ‘assignment’
or ‘course/class’ – although you are writing this paper because of the course you
should not mention this in the paper.
o Also, do not use the prompts listed below as questions/subheadings in your paper.
For example, don’t write ‘Justify why you selected this issue’ in the paper and then
answer this question. You answer this question in the course of writing your page
1 just as the articles in the readings you read answer this question without
specifically writing ‘justify why you selected this issue.’
o You should stay close to the page specifications below but it is ok if a section is a
few (2-3) lines shorter or longer than stated. In some cases your method may be
much shorter than the specified length in which case add additional text elsewhere
in the paper to compensate.
o Do not make up statistics or information.
o For all papers in this course an abstract is not needed.
o In this paper and other papers in the course you should avoid personal stories about
your personal experiences.
o Use the headings Method, Results, and Discussion in your paper.
o The paper should be written in APA style. (Remember, this means double-spaced).
540: W11 Content analysis paper
Pages 1-2: Introduction
• Present a general surface level description of the issue the content will examine
• Explain why understanding this case is important (references).
• Justify why you selected this issue (references) – do not simply state because the
‘assignment told you to’ or that you are doing ‘what your boss told you.’ Instead put
reasons related to your research question(s).
• What specific questions are you trying to answer?
Page 3: Method
• Use this Method Template (provided next week) to format this section.
• Specify variables you will code for.
• Design a code book for your variables. The detailed code book will be the appendix to
your paper and does not count toward the page count. For each latent variable there
should be a definition, keywords, and concrete examples. (We do not need the excel
file in the paper.)
• However, per the method template, much of the information from the code book in
the appendix will be repeated in the method. The appendix does not need to be in
APA style.
540: W11 Content analysis paper
Page 4: Results
• Apply the content analysis – nothing should be shown within the paper itself.
• All people in the group should apply the same coding scheme to the same reviews.
Each group member should upload the SPSS document to Blackboard.
• Use statistical analyses you deem appropriate to analyze the data produced by the
content analysis.
• Present the results of the statistical analyses in APA style. Also, if appropriate, present
the results in tables. A plain English interpretation is not needed.
• The analysis of the data from the content analysis can be completed as a group, pairs,
threes, or individually. The same for the write-up of these results in APA style.
(Remember in the SPSS assignment, you wrote up the results in APA style). Whether
you work alone or with others for the results section has no direct impact on your
grade. Your grade for the results section of your paper is determined by what is in your
results section, whether you did this alone or with others. Please note: that means that
if you have a mistake in your results section that was the result of you
accepting/trusting the work of someone else, that is your responsibility and your paper
grade is lowered. You cannot claim points back by arguing that someone else
conducted that analysis or miswrote up the report. If the work is in your results section
it is your responsibility.
• It is important to make sure the question/topic you pose in the introduction (pages 1-2)
is answered as fully as the data allows by the results presented in the results section.
• There should be no SPSS output anywhere in the paper (this includes any Appendix).
Everything your instructor needs from the data is in your APA style write-up or the
master SPSS file that is uploaded.
• You do not need to have significant results. Significant results are often more interesting
for you personally to write about but your grade is not determined by whether your
results are significant or non-significant.
Page 5: Discussion
• Explain what your data means.
• Offer some tentative explanations as to why you think you found the data you did.
• Provide some suggested practical implications from your results.
• Include limitations of the study.
• Only data from your results section should be discussed here. There should not be new
results presented.
Apply four different research methods (focus groups, surveys, content analysis, experimental) to
a range of problems
540: W11 Content analysis paper
Content analysis
Differentiate the strengths and weaknesses of the four methods examined in the course
Content analysis
Produce a research introduction on self-selected topic
Adept at using USC library databases to identify and access relevant literature
Formulate research questions and hypotheses
Demonstrate an understanding of APA style via correct application of style rules
Improve your writing
Write in the research style (e.g. concisely, accurately, using citations)