CA797 Thesis Design and Research

for S1P 2009

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Mission Statement: The mission of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Park University is to provide leadership and directions to Park University's graduate and professional programs to assure that they are specialized, scholarly, innovative, and designed to educate students to be creative, independent, and lifelong learners within the context of a global community.

Vision Statement: Park University's School of Graduate and Professional Studies will be an international leader in providing innovative graduate and professional educational opportunities to learners within a global society.


CA 797 Thesis Design and Research


S1P 2009 MCB


Dr. Joan Aitken


Professor, Communication Arts

Office Hours

229 Copley

Daytime Phone


Other Phone

Email me and I'll give you home phone.


Web Page

Class Days


Class Time



You will want to have half the courses for your program complete.

Credit Hours


APA (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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Dr. A's writing expectations:

Heffner, (2003). Research methods. All Psych Online. 

There are few areas in education that are covered on the Internet as well as research, so you may find this choice most helpful. Many of the test questions come from Heffner, which is totally available online.

Additional online books about research
, which you may help you in this course (from )
Air University Sampling and Surveying Handbook

Cognitive Aspects of Survey Methodology: Building a Bridge Between Disciplines: Report of the Advanced Research Seminar on Cognitive Aspects of Survey Methodology [online book]

Evaluation Cookbook

Know Your Audience: a Practical Guide to Audience Research

Listener Survey Toolkit

The Little Handbook of Statistical Practice, by Gerard E. Dallal

Marketing Research and Information Systems
, by I.M. Crawford

Methods in Behavioral Research, by Paul C. Cozby [site includes support materials, but not complete text]

The Qualitative Methods Workbook, by David W. Stockburger

Questionnaire Design and Analysis Activities, by Allison Galloway

Questionnaire Design and Analysis: A Workbook by Alison Galloway [excellent source]

Research Methods, 3rd edition, by Anthony M. Graziano and Michael L. Raulin [site includes support materials, but not complete text]

Research Methods Knowledge Base by William M. Trochim [excellent source]

Sampling: A Workbook, by Alison Galloway

Simple Data Measurement: A Workbook, by Alison Galloway

Six Phases of the Research Process, by Marion Joppe

The Whole Art of Deduction: Research Skills for Allied Health Scientists by Rodger Marion

Additional Resources:
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See Department Guidelines for Thesis Requirements.


DEPT. & PARK RULES. The student has the responsibility of finding out and following departmental and Park University rules. You will find those in the graduate catalog. Your advisor cannot over-ride departmental or university rules. The department and university requirements supersede faculty requirements.


GRADUATE RECORD EXAM (GRE).  Park University requires that you complete the GRE and submit your scores to the Graduate School.  You cannot graduate from the program without completing this step. See


COMPREHENSIVE EXAMS. The department or university requires separate comprehensive exams of students who complete a project.  These need to be PASSED at least 8 weeks prior to graduation.  Ask three faculty--probably your committee--to submit questions to Dr. Cohn.  When you are ready to take the exam, you contact Dr. Cohn to schedule the test.  You will have 24 hours to write.  You can use any books or materials, but you canNOT use help from any person.  Here is Dr. Aitken's information about comps


APPLICATION FOR GRADUATION.  Go to the Park website, find and complete the online form (Application for Graduation), and pay fees for graduation.

August Completion or December Commencement Deadline: April 1

 May Commencement Deadline: November 1


THESIS OR PROJECT? The thesis should be original research that makes a contribution to the learning in the field.  The thesis will be bound and made available to the general public through the library.


TOPIC. Select a topic you love, which you have been studying in the program so far. The topic must relate to human communication or leadership.


COMMITTEE. You will present your thesis and defend your work, perhaps with other enrolled students during a meeting set up by the department.  This meeting can be conducted by teleconferencing for distance students.


Your thesis needs to be completed and your committee needs to be on-board .

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The Master’s Thesis will address an appropriately phrased research question of interest to the student. The student may seek to answer a question through one of the following.

1. A strategy for solving a specific communication problem
2. A communication environment
3. An investigation of theoretical or experimental issues
4. Test of a specified hypothesis
5. A case study of an organization
6. A quantitative, experimental study
7. A qualitative analysis of some texts
8. Field research and analysis of observations made
9. A historical study of some “communication events” or person(s)
10. A critical analysis of some “communication events” or texts
11. A theoretical essay, critiquing current theory and/ or directed towards developing new theory
12. A theoretically informed and data-driven case study of some “communication problem” and interventions attempting to solve it
13. A theoretically informed and data-driven proposal for a new curriculum or training program to meet a specific need

The subject of study may come from two general sources:

1. The communication environment, with which the student has first-hand experience.

2. A traditional research investigation of a particular aspect of corporate or organizational communication or leadership.In some cases, the subject may be a combination of the two sources.

McAfee Memorial Library - Online information, links, electronic databases and the Online catalog. Contact the library for further assistance via email or at 800-270-4347.
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Course Description:
CA 797 Thesis Design and Research: With the approval of the Program Director, interested and capable students may elect the Thesis Option to satisfy degree requirements. The six credit hour Thesis Option provides students with the opportunity to explore a topic of interest through as in-depth research project. Students electing the Thesis Option shall adhere to the requirements set forth in the Graduate Schools Thesis Standards and Procedures manual. Variable credit: 1-3 hrs. may be repeated: must total 5 hrs. (Permission Required).

Class Assessment:
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Departmental Requirements


Consult the Graduate Catalog and Graduate School Procedures Manual for additional information on thesis procedures. A minimum of 36 hours is required under this option, including five to six hours of CA797 Thesis design and research.


Graduate School Requirements



The writing of a thesis is a highly valued academic exercise and has been traditionally regarded as the culminating activity in a master’s degree program. Students may earn up to six hours of graduate credit for writing a thesis, by enrolling in 700 and 701 courses, sequentially. Continuous enrollment for an additional 1 hour is possible, with the approval of the Committee Chair. Due to the demanding nature of research and writing, all theses hours will be offered only in the traditional 16-week format.


Students should carefully plan their activities, in order to ensure that they develop a workable proposal, conduct the research, write the thesis, and get it approved by the Committee, in a timely manner. A copy of the completed thesis should be submitted to the major advisor no later than six weeks prior to the date of commencement. The Graduate School should receive a copy for final approval no later than three weeks prior to the day on which the degree is to be conferred.


Thesis Committee

Candidates should consult their major advisor in forming a Committee and clarifying the role of the Committee members in the research and writing process. The primary responsibility for directing the thesis resides with the major advisor. The Committee should consist of a minimum of three approved graduate faculty, including the major advisor in the discipline area. It is advisable to include additional faculty member(s) from outside the discipline, because faculty external to the discipline can bring fresh perspectives or provide valuable assistance in the conduct of research.


Enrollment in XX 700 (3 credit hours)

The candidate must register for a 700-level course in order to begin the process of developing a thesis proposal. The registration allows the student to receive advice from a member of the faculty and to utilize University facilities in preparation for the thesis. While enrolled for this course, the student is expected to be actively working on developing a formal proposal related to an area of research interest, under the direction of a faculty member who will be the major advisor or the Committee Chair.

At minimum, the research proposal should identify the problem, clarify the thesis statement, select an appropriate research methodology (including the data gathering instruments and data analysis techniques) and provide an effective overview of the scholarly literature. The following general outline may be helpful in developing a proposal.


·         Key concepts and definition of the project. Concisely and clearly state what the project intends to accomplish. What are the basic questions to be explored?


·         Significance of the study. Why should the scientific community be interested in this study? What contribution will it make to the discipline, the profession and the society?


·         Review of relevant literature. How does your research relate to the work of others? Where are the gaps in literature? What do you hope to add to the literature?


·         Methodology. How do you plan to approach the subject? What is your methodology and what instruments or procedures will you use to gather the data/information that you would need to address the questions? What is the justification for the use of this methodology? Do you have the resources to conduct the study, such as access to people, data, archives, collections, time, etc.?


·         Plan of work and timetable. Present a realistic timetable including specific dates by which you plan to complete specific facets of the research. It would help you and the Committee to decide if you can realistically complete the project.


·         Bibliography. Present a working bibliography that includes scholarly books and articles. Naturally, you will revise and expand this bibliography as you continue with your project.


Proposal Defense and Submitting the proposal to the Graduate School

When the proposal is ready for defense, the student must work with the Chair in setting a date for the proposal defense. The defense must be conducted at least a semester prior to graduation and the proposal must be submitted to the Graduate School once it is approved by the Chair and all members of the Committee.


Submitting the Proposal to the Graduate School

The student must work with the Chair in submitting the proposal to the Committee members for their approval. Once approved by the Committee, the Chair will forward the proposal to the Graduate School office at least a semester prior to the semester in which the student is expected to graduate.


Human Subjects Protection and IRB review

In preparing the thesis proposal, students must be aware that any research which involves human subjects must be approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University in order to assure compliance with applicable federal regulations and University policies. The proposal must be reviewed and approved by the IRB according to the University procedure. Failure to gain the IRB approval will result in denial of the proposal. It is a violation of the procedures to contact human subjects prior to the IRB approval of the proposal. It is highly recommended that the IRB approval be received prior to the submission of the proposal. Additional information related to the IRB may be found at:


Enrollment in XX 701 (3 credit hours)

Following the approval of the thesis proposal, students may enroll in 701 and begin data gathering. Data may be collected using qualitative, quantitative, participatory, documentary, or

action research methodologies, as may be appropriate. The writing of the thesis may then begin, with the guidance of the Committee Chair. Students are encouraged to consult the Chair regularly, to ensure that they receive timely and useful feedback throughout the research and writing process.


Thesis Defense

An oral defense of the thesis must be satisfactorily completed and approved by the Committee, and the result of the defense must be submitted to the Graduate School, three weeks prior to graduation. Thesis defense is open to the University community.


Enrollment in XX 799 (1 credit hour)

When additional time is needed to complete the thesis work, enrollment in XX 799 is permitted, in consultation with the Chair.

For additional information on the thesis procedure, please consult the Director of your graduate program, or the Executive Director for the Graduate School.


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Term 1: 100% of the thesis grade is based on the advisor's evaluation of the proposal/project submitted by week 6 and revised by Monday of week 8.


Term 2: 100% of the project/thesis grade is based on the advisor and committee decision on the quality of the final proposal submitted to the department/graduate school week 5 of term 2.

Scan the signed form and send it via email to the Director of the MA program, the Director of the Graduate School, and the Registrar.

Late Submission of Course Materials:
The proposal must be submitted to the committee by the end of term one.

Prior to the final term, make sure you have completed everything you need--and have your committee's agreement with your thesis--IN ADVANCE of the final term of enrollment.

If you do not complete the thesis on time, you will have to pay for and enroll in one additional credit hour each term until the thesis is complete. 

Classroom Rules of Conduct:

See and for more information.

The student must take responsibility for completing work, submitting weekly updates to the advisor, and communicating with the committee.

There is a fee for binding the thesis.  The student is responsible for contacting the library and bindery to complete the submission on time.

Honest, ethical, and original research is required.

Talk to your advisor about the exact content and organization of your thesis.  Below is an example.

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Author's Responsibilities


The author is responsible for:

  1. Ethical research.

  2. Collection of data.

  3. Writing content.

  4. The correct presentation of the content, references, and illustrative materials of the manuscript.

  5. Making sure the format of the finished document meets university standards.

  6. The appropriate arrangement of the parts of the manuscript as specified in this guide. Sentence structure, paragraphing, punctuation, spelling, accuracy and citation of

  7. Correct quotations, with exact page numbers.

  8. Proofreading the manuscript.

  9. Seeing that the bibliographic citations conform to the appropriate standard. Contacting the School of Graduate Studies Thesis Research Assistant to check the manuscript's format.

  10. Being aware of, and meeting, all departmental and School of Graduate Studies' deadlines for submission of Thesis for approval.

  11. Getting copyright permission for any copyrighted material included in the manuscript.

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Thesis Organization


Blank page or copyright page
Approval page
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations (if figures/graphs/etc. are used) List of Tables (if manuscript has tables)
Acknowledgments (if used)
Preface (if used)
Dedication (if used)

See Appendix A, p. 331 APA Manual.

Chapter 1: Defining the problem. (5 pages)

  1. Introduction – This is the background to the problem.

  1. A brief history of interest in the area.

  1. Specify unresolved issues, theoretical questions, and/or social concerns.

  2. Rationale for the study.

Chapter 2: Survey of literature.  (30-50 pages)

  1. Review of the Literature -- This is a survey of the theory and research related to the problem. It should provide the following:

  1. Define key variables.

  2. Critique and summarize prior research. This is a review of how the variables have been

studied and includes results, conclusions, and weakness.

  1. Establish the basis for your study, which isolate issues that merit further research.

Chapter 3: Problem Statement. (5 pages)

  1. Problem Statement -- Drawing from the literature review of 20-50 sources, explain the ideas you plan to investigate. Include the following:

  1. Identify variables (dependent and independent variables).

  2. Delineate the research problem to explain the relationships expected among variables (research questions or hypotheses).

Chapter 4: Method (5 pages)

  1. Method

    1. Describe why the research method (e.g., survey research) is used.

2. Instruments or measures

    1. Operational definitions of dependent and independent variables

    2. Instrument – rationale for the measure to be used (e.g., questionnaire, focus group, interview).

  1. Participants and procedures


       Selection of subjects (i.e., who and how  to get them -- sampling procedure).  


       Explain how materials will be  distributed.  


       Describe how data will be collected.  


      Describe how data will be analyzed.


Chapter 5:  Results (5 pages).  Just the facts.

Chapter 6:  Discussion (10-30 pages).  See the APA manual.

References (Only peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles in APA style)



Course Topic/Dates/Assignments:
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T 1 Wk 1 Abstract

  1. Ask faculty to be on your committee.

  2. Decide the exact topic and title (see APA 1.06 Title Page
    Write an abstract that includes the research question and method.  (see APA 1.07 Abstract of 250 words)

  3. Read some interesting articles about writing research proposals (University of Maryland), click here.

Title Page & Abstract Due

T 1 Wk 2 Problem

  1. Write problem statement chapter essence (APA 1.08), about 5 pages long.

  2. Begin reading and writing the review of literature.  You may need to broaden or narrow your topic.  When the thesis is done, expect to have about 100 sources cited to show you have a comprehensive review.

Chapter 1Defining the problem.


T 1 Wk 3 Lit Review

  1. Conduct review of literature. Library Database Tutorial

T 1 Wk 4 Lit Review

B. Review of Literature: Theory Building (Group according to ideas, NOT according to research articles).
1. Paragraph about first idea from review of literature.
2. Paragraph about second idea from review of literature.
3. Paragraph about third idea from review of literature.


Right now, you need 25 peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles from communication, but you need about 100 when you are done.  No popular press materials.  No websites.  No newspapers.  No magazines.  No books.  Only peer-reviewed journals permitted Everything in the reference list must be cited.  Everything cited must be in the reference list.  Every direct quotation must have a page number cited.  Everything paraphrased must be cited. 

Chapter 2Survey of literature. Due

T 1 Wk 5 Method

  1. Deadline for full proposal submitted to advisor including the method. Take everything you have so far and add: APA 1.09 II. Method, APA 1.13 References. APA 1.14 Appendix (e.g., survey, measure or unpublished test and its validation).

Full Proposal Due, including problem statement and method.

T 1 Wk 6 Proposal

Deadline: Entire revised proposal together and HARDCOPY submitted/mailed to each committee member.  Advisor will forward to the committee.

Revised Proposal Due.

T 1 Wk 7 IRB

Student needs to complete the human subjects certification and IRB proposal.  See tutorial, IRB/

Proposal defense to faculty committee.  Submit your proposal to your committee and receive their written approval. The Committee should consist of a minimum of two approved graduate faculty including the major advisor in the discipline area and one additional faculty member. It is advisable to include additional faculty member(s) from outside the discipline because faculty external to the discipline can bring fresh perspectives or provide valuable assistance in the conduct of research. 

Human Subjects Certification &

IRB application draft due.

T 1 Wk 8 Data

Divide what you have into the chapter format.  Broaden your review of literature to include another 30 peer-reviewed, scholarly references.  Read one a day and integrate the information into your thesis.

Write two or three pages a day and you will have the essence complete in 30 days.

Begin data collection AFTER you receive IRB approval.  The IRB may require changes in your method.


Read APA appendix A, p. 331.

If not already done, complete objective style comprehensive examination.

Submit IRB application after committee's approval.

BETWEEN CA 797 & 798


  1. If you conduct research using human subjects, you need IRB approval. That includes everything, even benign newspaper-reporter style interviews. Even if you are exempt, you must have their approval because only the IRB can decide you are exempt. If using human subjects, complete the training course first. If using human subjects, submit your proposal to the IRB Application.

  2. Collect Data. Once you have a prospectus meeting--collectively or individually--proceed with your data collection as soon as you obtain IRB approval.

  3. Analyze Your Data

  4. Write the Discussion

  5. Check the Thesis requirements and add all the preliminary data.

  6. Format the Thesis according to the guidelines.

  7. Meet regularly with your advisor as you begin analyzing the data and writing up your results, and revising other chapters..

  8. Send a preliminary summary of results and discussion to committee members.

  9. Write the thesis. Remember to complete everything in the APA format.

  10. Contact the graduate school about any questions.

  11. Take your thesis to the Academic Support staff for help BEFORE submitting to Dr. Aitken.

Comprehensive Exams due.



To graduate, the thesis draft needs to be submitted to your advisor week 1 of this term!


If you miss a deadline, you will not graduate this term and will need to enroll in additional hours.

T 2 Wk 1 Draft

Submit final thesis to advisor.  In addition to previous content, this includes the APA 1.10 Results, and APA 1.11  Discussion.

Schedule defense committee meeting.

Have the Academic Support Services staff or someone proof everything before submitting to me.

Thesis Draft Due

T 2 Wk 2 Thesis

A copy of the completed thesis should be submitted to the major advisor no later than six weeks prior to the date of commencement.

Revised Thesis for Committee Due

T 2 Wk 3 Formatted

Meet with advisor to go over any final changes, then revise, and submit to committee.

Formatted Thesis Due

T 2 Wk 4 Defense

Oral defense.

Make needed changes.

Submit to graduate school by final deadline.

Oral Defense Due

T 2 Wk 5 Grad School


Submit completed thesis to graduate school.

Submit Thesis to Graduate School. FINAL DEADLINE

Academic Honesty:
As a learning community, the University upholds the highest standards of academic integrity in all its academic activities, by faculty, staff, administrators and students. Academic integrity involves much more than respecting intellectual property rights. It lies at the heart of learning, creativity, and the core values of the University. Those who learn, teach, write, publish, present, or exhibit creative works are advised to familiarize themselves with the requirements of academic integrity and make every effort to avoid possible offenses against it, knowingly or unknowingly. Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 25


Plagiarism involves the appropriation of another person's ideas, interpretation, words (even a few), data, statements, illustration or creative work and their presentation as one's own. An offense against plagiarism constitutes a serious academic misconduct.  Although offenses against academic integrity can manifest themselves in various ways, the most common forms of offenses are plagiarism and cheating. Plagiarism goes beyond the copying of an entire article. It may include, but is not limited to: copying a section of an article or a chapter from a book, reproduction of an art work, illustration, cartoon, photograph and the like and passing them off as one's own. Copying from the Internet is no less serious an offense than copying from a book or printed article, even when the material is not copyrighted.

Plagiarism also includes borrowing ideas and phrases from, or paraphrasing, someone else's work, published or unpublished, without acknowledging and documenting the source. Acknowledging and documenting the source of an idea or phrase, at the point where it is utilized, is necessary even when the idea or phrase is taken from a speech or conversation with another person.

Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 25

Attendance Policy:

Professors are required to maintain attendance records and report absences. Excused absences can be granted by the instructor, for medical reasons, school sponsored activities, and employment-related demands, including temporary duty. Students are responsible for any missed work. Absences for two successive weeks, without approved excuse, will be reported to the Director of the individual graduate program, or to the Executive Director for the Graduate School, for appropriate action. Students with such a record of absences, without an approved excuse, may be administratively withdrawn from the class and notified that an "F" will be recorded, unless the student initiates official withdrawal from the class(es).Park University 2008-2009 Graduate Catalog Page 29

Disability Guidelines:
Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance. These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal. It is Park University's policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities. In the case of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply. Additional information concerning Park University's policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page: .


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Last Updated:12/11/2008 7:26:33 PM