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How to Write a Paper for Communication Class

If you have enrolled in at least one communication class, you know that such courses are very demanding. Students should be ready to demonstrate knowledge in a number of fields beyond communications itself, for example, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, art, etc., since only a systematic and complex approach may help to explain the nature and peculiarities of human interactions. The same principle is applicable to communication-related writing tasks, the way of writing and planning which is discussed in this short guide.

Communication Courses

Your communication course belongs to one of five major categories. Each category is associated with a set of concepts and aspects that you writing assignments will predominantly emphasize. So, check them out:

  • Rhetoric studies. The courses within this group concern argumentative and persuasive discourse and specifically focus on political speeches.
  • Interpersonal communication. The courses are devoted to examining communication and dynamics between two people or within small groups.
  • Organizational communication. This group is connected with interaction in large groups, e.g., mass communication.
  • Media studies. The courses primarily concern media, films, and technologies. They are looked at from the perspective of social and cultural impact and tendencies.
  • Performance studies. In such kind of classes, you will investigate and analyze the influences of the daily life of a society on such artforms as theater, literature, dance, etc.

All of the described categories have a unique object of studies. It means that the form, purpose, and, obviously, the content of writing tasks will differ tremendously depending on the category in which your course falls. Therefore, to understand the assignment fully, you should be familiar with the peculiarities of the course first. To gain this knowledge, read the syllabus, course description, and of course, pay close attention to the instructions. Now, check how one topic might be interpreted differently depending on the course category. The chosen topic is friendship between people of the same sex.

  • Rhetoric studies.From the rhetoric perspective, the topic of same-sex friendship could be addressed through the analysis of friend’s speeches about each other and the way they present own views on their relationship. A bright example of such speeches might be those of Plato and Aristotle. A technique of comparing and contrasting would work well for such kind of paper.
  • Interpersonal communication.These courses would require looking at face-to-face conversations between two friends of the same sex and analyze the means of communications that they use. For instance, it would be relevant to discuss non-verbal communication between two males and two females. It would allow testing some of the sex-related stereotypes.
  • Organizational communication. A category implies discussing a group, not individuals; therefore, the approach to a writing task should be more distant. Consequently, a student might be offered to study the group dynamics within a company where training for same-sex friends is being implemented. The impact on performance could be then examined.
  • Performance studies. The look of performance studies on the topic of same-sex friendship would require analyzing the portrayal of this relationship in a literary work. The conventions, innovative techniques, the figurative language used might offer a new perspective on the subject that is seemingly fully understandable for everyone. The texts for the analysis could be Waiting for Godot or Three Men in a Boat.
  • Media studies. The analysis of a film about male or female friendship should be the basis of a paper for a media studies course. The cinematic conventions or character development could be studied. In addition, special attention might be given to stereotyping. The views on men and women of an epoch, as represented in a movie, could be addressed.

Topic Selection

There are several principles that should be followed in the process of choosing the topic of a communication-related paper. What you have to remember is that it should fit in with the purpose of the assignment and course as well as be in line with your interests. The former criterion will influence the scope of the topic, which you will choose. If it is an interpersonal communication course, it should be relevant to choose a narrow topic, for example, the role of fillers such as “like,” “well,” “actually” in a conversation. If it an organizational communication class, the topic might be much broader, for instance, the influence of inclusiveness policy on a manner people communicate within a company.

The criterion of the interest is also critically important. Communication is something that concerns everyone personally, and a student’s relation to the chosen topic should be visible in the paper too. You will have to justify the selected option, explain how the subject intrigues and affects you, and list reasons why you care about it. Furthermore, due to the personal character of communication courses, it might be even relevant to discuss the experiences that you went through to prove the point. Therefore, the topic that you choose should be close to you, your outlook, and, of course, life experiences. Still, whatever topic you select, be sure to get an approval of the professor to avoid last-minute rewriting.

Writing Guidelines

A research-based communication paper is a complex piece of work that you will have complete in few steps. First, you will have to find materials that are relevant to your topic. Second, you will have to read as much of the found literature as possible and critique it choosing essential data only. Third, you will have to formulate own argument. In this case, an “argument” is your personal view on a specific concept, theory, phenomenon, for example, a text, event, speech, act, pattern, conversation, etc. Finally, you will have to develop your position using the evidence retrieved from the literature read. Points that both support and contradict your position will have to be discussed.

The most difficult part of this procedure is to formulate an argument that would offer a unique perspective on a topic and develop it. Yet, this task is absolutely doable. To handle it, start the paper with articulating a thesis statement. The latter is your position confined to one sentence, which is to be placed at the end of an introduction. Then, open the body with an overview of a subject under consideration. In other words, create a synthesis of information that you have read in books and journal articles.

The text phase is to explain your position. You have to tell what you think, why you have such a view, and show what place your argument occupies in the existing literature, i.e., complies with previous research, complements it, or contradicts it. For instance, if you detect the gaps in the current research, your paper might fill in them. The last step is to discuss the opposing arguments of your position and refute them, i.e., explain why your stance is stronger than that of the opponents.

Search for Evidence

As explained above, the argument will have to be developed. To do it, you will have to collect evidence from a variety of sources. These can be books, journal articles, textbooks, reports, TV programs, films, interviews, surveys, newspaper articles, etc. The source of information that is preferred by probably every single professor in the world is journal articles as they are focused, concise, and usually up-to-date. You may look for articles that would suit your paper is such journals as Communication Education, Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, Communication, Culture, and Critique, International Journal of Communication, etc. Moreover, these pieces of research might be found in online databases, for example, ERIC, ProQuest, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, etc. Yet, when looking for sources on the Internet, be careful and choose only credible, reputable, and peer-reviewed articles. Wikipedia-like publications, which are widely available on the web, will not constitute a decent source.

Use the found evidence wisely. If you merely insert a quotation after a quotation in your paper, it will bring you neither points to the grade nor the praise of a professor. Each citation or a quote should be introduced and then explained meaning that you will need to show how it supports or contradicts your research, illustrate the connection between a claim and the cited study, and demonstrate the contribution of the piece of evidence to your paper. Another point to remember that your argument should progress in the paper. It means that you should not restate the thesis statement in each paragraph and back it up with evidence. Instead, every part of the paper should complement the other and show how your argument grows in terms of complexity. Finally, it might be relevant to provide the discussion of research limitations. This element of a writing assignment implies telling about the aspects that could not be studied, for instance, because of the lack of resources, narrow scope of research, absence of necessary technologies, etc. Revealing such things will make your paper realistic and inform a reader about the intricacy of the communication field.

Style and Formatting Tips

Unlike in papers for other classes, communication-related writing allows using first-person pronouns. However, we recommend to find out your professor’s attitude to this writing feature since sometimes, the usage of “I” and “my” may indeed be irrelevant. As for the formatting style, it is better to stick to commonly accepted styles, namely, APA or MLA. You should use either of them to create References or Works Cited respectively, format in-text citations, and, thus, give credit to those whose papers you use in your writing assignment. It is an obligatory thing to do unless you want to be accused of academic dishonesty. 

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