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ORG 270: Organizational Communication (Ems)

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Your Assignment

Research Project

You will delve into the relevant research on an organizational communication topic of interest to you. You will complete several benchmark assignments throughout the semester, give a brief presentation on what you have learned, and craft a final project.

It’s a choose-your-own adventure project!

Your final product might be: a photo essay, a short documentary, a podcast, public awareness social media campaign, an evidence-based op-ed, a policy proposal, a short story, a play, or an interactive map. It can’t be a traditional research paper. Nope. No way. Whichever adventure you choose, you will need to review the relevant literature on your topic and use existing research to inform your work.

Step 1: Choose Your Adventure (decide on a topic and approach) What do you want to learn about? What puzzle do you want to try to solve? What issue do you want to bring to light? How can you use what you've learned in class about organizational communication to better understand something about the social world? How might you then share that understanding with others? Are you interested in exploring and advocating for a particular organizational change or political intervention?

Benchmark #1: Project Proposal, Due Oct. 9. Submit a one-page description of your proposed adventure. Your benchmark assignment should include:

• a general description of your topic

• 1-2 provisional research questions that might guide your research (what do you want to find out?) I strongly recommend “how” and “why” questions because they push you to explain how something works, explain why something is occurring, or describe how or why things are related.

• why you are interested in this topic and why other folks should care about it (so what?)

• a description of your final product (what are you going to create?) To help you brainstorm about potential topics, I strongly recommend exploring:

• Alive With Ideas - Blog


• Brilliant Inc. 


• Comms Rebel


• Scarlettabbott


Step 2: Research

Find out what is already known about your topic. Review the relevant scholarly literature. This is a process. It takes some time to figure out the appropriate search terms and relevant academic conversations.

I recommend using the Communication and Mass Media Complete database (through the Butler U. library) and Google Scholar.

Benchmark #2: Check-In Meeting, Due by Nov. 11th Provide project update for Prof. Ems. Come to your meeting prepared to provide evidence of project progress (see Step 3) and to discuss the relevant scholarly literature sources you have collected and reviewed. You will sign up for times to meet during our regular class hours. 

Benchmark #3: Annotated Bibliography: Due Nov. 11th

Submit an annotated bibliography that identifies six sources and how they are helping to shape your project. Four of these sources must be peer-reviewed scholarly articles or books.

For each source:

1. Provide a complete bibliographic citation.

2. Briefly summarize the main argument and key findings.

3. Assess the value and relevance of the source to your developing project. BE SPECIFIC (see example below). You might address one or more of the following questions:

• Does the author frame their research question(s) in a way that might work for your project?

• Does the article or book employ a methodological approach or theoretical framing that might be useful for your project?

• Does the article offer key concepts that you might employ or build on in your project?

• Do the main findings and conclusions relate to your project?


Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and dimed: On (not) getting by in America. Henry Holt and Company.

In this book of nonfiction based on the journalist's experiential research, Ehrenreich attempts to ascertain whether it is currently possible for an individual to live on a minimum-wage in America. Taking jobs as a waitress, a maid in a cleaning service, and a Walmart sales employee, the author summarizes and reflects on her work, her relationships with fellow workers, and her financial struggles in each situation.

An experienced journalist, Ehrenreich is aware of the limitations of her experiment and the ethical implications of her experiential research tactics and reflects on these issues in the text. The author is forthcoming about her methods and supplements her experiences with scholarly research on her places of employment, the economy, and the rising cost of living in America. Ehrenreich’s project is timely, descriptive, and well-researched.

Note about the example above: This annotation both summarizes and assesses the book in the citation. The first paragraph provides a brief summary of the author's project in the book, covering the main points of the work. The second paragraph points out the project’s strengths and evaluates its methods and presentation. This particular annotation does not reflect on the source’s potential importance or usefulness for this person’s own research.

For more examples of annotated bibliographic citations see the Purdue Owl website

Step 3: Create/Make/Do/Write/Act Use the relevant findings from your review of existing research and additional sources of information to shape your final project. Some projects will need an accompanying explanatory written narrative. Check in with me to see what you will need to submit. DO NOT WAIT until you have completed Step 2 to begin work on your project.

Step 4: Present

You will give a brief presentation about your paper on Nov. 29th, Dec 4th, or 6th . You will present your project and share what you deem to be the most important things that you learned in the process of creating it. We will discuss the presentation format in class.

Step 5: Evaluate and Submit

You will complete a project self-evaluation (on Canvas) and submit your final project by Dec. 6th. 

Benchmark #1: 5 points Oct. 9th

Benchmark #2: 5 points by Nov. 1st

Benchmark #3 15 points Nov. 1st

Presentation: 15 points Nov. 29th, Dec. 4th, or 6th

Final Project: 60 points Dec. 6th before class.


Email Butler University Libraries
Irwin Library: 317-940-9227
Science Library: 317-940-9937

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