Department of Communication Studies

Non-Thesis Requirements

Purpose of writing a research paper:
Writing a research paper is an opportunity for the student to demonstrate the needed research skills to conduct research in her/his specialty area to advance his/her career goals.

A research paper is (A) a revised version of a graduate level seminar paper in a student's specialty area, or (B) an original research paper, in which the student demonstrates his/her ability to conduct research in an area to advance her/his career goals. Sample topics of the research paper may include: developing campaigns, constructing training programs, conducting communication audits, assessing training needs, developing curriculum, reviewing and assessing literature, scripting and directing, conducting audience research, etc.

Procedure of completing a MA research paper:

Option (A):  A Revised Class Paper

The student will consult her/his advisor to select a class paper completed for a graduate level seminar in his/her specialty area. In consultation with the academic advisor, the student will  seek faculty members to serve as research paper readers. Students typically choose for the first reader a faculty member familiar with the area of research; the second reader may or may not have similar areas of expertise. Upon receiving the consent of the two readers, the student should obtain from the main office the form to be completed with the name and signatures of the two readers of the research paper. The student will work under the guidance of the first reader to complete the research paper. Upon completion of the research paper, and gaining the approval and endorsement from the first and second readers regarding the acceptable quality of the research paper, the student may submit the research paper to the Graduate Program Director.

Option (B):  An Original Research Paper

The student will consult his/her advisor to select a director for the research paper. If appropriate, the student's advisor may direct the research paper; however, students often choose a faculty member more familiar with the area of research. A second reader is also chosen. Upon receiving the consent of the two readers, the student should obtain from the main office the form to be completed with the name and signatures of the two readers of the research paper. After project approval is given by the research paper director and a second reader, the student will work to complete the project. Upon completion of the research paper, and gaining the approval and endorsement from the director of the research paper and a second reader regarding the acceptable quality of the research paper, the student may submit the research paper to the Graduate Program Director.

The student will usually follow the MLA Style Manual or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association in writing the paper, unless there is another format which is appropriate for the research. See the Graduate College publication "Thesis and Dissertation Manual." (http://www.grad.uni.edu/thesis/thesismanual.htmlx.) This publication takes precedence over any other style manual.

The student will choose his/her reader and submit the completed Research Paper Readers Approval Form to the Director of Graduate Program with the names and signatures of advisor and reader.

The paper must be submitted to the advisor and reader at least 30 days before graduation. The copies of the paper need not be the final copy that will be submitted to the department but must be complete (including front matter, tables, figures, photographs, illustrations, footnotes, bibliography, etc.), typed, and relatively free of typographical errors. Allow a minimum of two weeks for faculty to read drafts. For Sample Research Paper Signature Page, click here.

After the paper has been approved, any corrections or editorial changes should be made by the student and approved (if necessary) by the paper advisor and/or reader.

Each student is required to file a 400-500 word abstract of her or his paper with the completed research paper.


One unbound copy of the paper in final form on bond paper must be presented to the Department’s Office Coordinator, due 15 days before semester graduation (7 days before summer graduation). Students should provide their advisor and second reader a final copy, as well. The Office Coordinator will complete, obtain appropriate signatures, and submit to the Registrar’s Office the “Research Approval Form.”