Choosing a Topic Assignment

Choosing a Topic Assignment
This assignment is worth a total of 30% of the course grade (5% [20 points] for the preliminary outline and reference list, 25% [100 points] for the final paper).

This assignment requires you to write a literature review. A literature review discusses published information in a particular subject area. It is a summary or recap of the important information from previously published sources. For this assignment you look at research concerning some topic of your choosing in the world of advertising. You will need to find and read studies, discuss the theories and research relating previously performed on your topic, and come to your own conclusions about the existence and importance of your overall question/topic. You should also discuss the implications of the research, as you see and interpret them, for society and/or consumers.

Choosing a Topic Assignment

Research Project Stages

Stage 1: Developing a Question/Choosing a Topic
For this assignment you will need to develop a general research question. Pick a topic that you are interested in. Your topic can be related to research you’ve done in other classes, an area covered in class that you would like to investigate in depth, or a topic that you’ve always found of interest. Past semesters of this course has seen papers on the following topics:

Advertising’s Impact on Children’s Consumer Behavior
Relationship between Sports Sponsorship and Fandom
Role of Colors in Creating a Brand’s Logo
Impact of Advertising on Children’s Obesity
Strong Partisan Voters are More Influenced by Negative Ads
Social Media Influencers Are a More “Organic” Form of Advertising
Is There Better Recall of Products Advertised at Sporting Events
Anti-Tobacco Ads Increase Negative Perceptions of Smoking
Advertising Based on Ethnicity Can Influence Consumption
Advantages and Disadvantages of Celebrity Endorsements in Ads
Exposure to Advertising Impact Children’s Gender Based Beliefs
Increasing Prevalence of Pharmaceutical Advertising in the U.S.
Portrayals of “Non-Traditional” Couples in Advertisements
Subliminal Advertising is an Effective Influencer
Femvertising Positively Influences Consumer Behavior
Advertisers Continue to Idealize Unrealistic Portrayals of Women
Effects of Political Ads on Voters during the 2016 Presidential Election
Neuroscience Reveals a Person’s True Opinion of an Advertisement
How Do Ads Target Consumers to Enact Specific Physiological Reponses
Methods and Consequences of Advertising to a Queer Audience
As you can hopefully see you can choose absolutely anything you would like to write about for your literature review. It is simply dependent on where your interests lie and what specific topics may interest you.

Stage 2: Researching your Question
Use the UD Library resources, such as online library databases, in order to discover what research has been done in your area of interest. Try not to limit yourself just to books. The majority of social science research, particularly the most recent research, is published in journal format. For a database search you might want to begin looking for materials by doing a keyword search. Keep in mind that the authors cited in the course readings offer good starting places for you to do your research. You should also keep in mind that the bibliographies and reference lists of relevant research articles or the course readings can offer information about where to find other related articles.


You are expected to look at actual research studies in reputable journals, books, or in reliable sources. What is a reputable journal? Journal of Communication, Journal of Advertising, Human Communication Research, Media Psychology, and Journal of Advertising Research are some of the journals that may contain reports of research in your area. If you are unsure if a resource you found is from a reputable, peer-reviewed academic journal, ASK ME!
You may include information from reputable websites (e.g. statistical information about media usage from “Children Now” or Kaiser Foundation Reports). Some journals are also available in full-text format on-line (i.e. Journal of Health Communication). This type of material is considered to be credible and constitutes a “reputable journal”–it’s just in electronic format. This does not include websites such as,, or
You are expected to examine at least SIX original research studies published in reputable journals or as book chapters. Abstracts, or summaries of studies reported in other studies or newspaper reports do not count. Note: Six studies will likely be insufficient and you will need to refer to more sources.
You may also use other types of material (articles from popular magazines, cites from organizational websites, etc.) to enhance your argument. For example, if you are writing a paper about advertising and sports you might quote or cite material from a recent Time Magazine in your introduction, essentially outlining the recent occurrences surrounding the issue–however, you should not rely only on this type of information. And such resources will NOT count toward your six original, required research studies.
If you choose a topic that is related to one of the course topics, you are encouraged to use course readings (and their reference lists) to help you find relevant literature for your review. You may also use and cite course readings, but course readings found on the syllabus will NOT count toward your six original, required research studies. You must demonstrate that you’ve researched your topic beyond the course readings on the syllabus.
Remember that this is a “Review of the Literature” not just an essay describing your opinions. Avoid “opinionated” language (I think, I believe, etc.) when writing up the majority your paper.
You may find a lot of material on your topic. For example, there have been a growing number of studies on the relationship between food advertising and obesity. You should develop some research strategy for narrowing down your search (e.g. looking at the most recent studies, looking at particular aspects of media effects, looking at the research investigating a specific communication theory, etc.).

You may find that there has been a limited amount of research on a specific topic that you’re interested in. For example, suppose you’re interested in exploring the effects of banner ads for alcoholic products on adolescents who might access certain web sites. There may not be a lot of research on this specific topic. You would therefore need to look at research in related areas. You could look at research on the impact of banner ads for other products and combine that with research on the impact of television and magazine ads for alcohol on adolescents.

Choosing a Topic Assignment

Stage 3: Developing an Argument
Based on what you’ve found, you may want to revise or narrow your topic. Rather than looking at advertising in general, you may want to focus on a particular medium. Rather than looking at a topic in terms of “children and adolescents,” you may want to limit yourself to a particular age group. You may also choose to look at particular mediating variables rather than overall effects. You should then develop a thesis statement–for example: “Attractive banner ads for alcoholic products may influence adolescents’ intentions to consume alcohol.”

You will then need to develop an argument supporting your statement. Break your argument down into logical statements which you can support with evidence from your search of the literature.

You should be able to support each of the statements that you’ve made with evidence from the research articles that you’ve looked at. Your argument should be supported by (or be consistent with) specific communication theories.

Choosing a Topic Assignment

Stage 4: The Outline:
It will be easier to organize your arguments and your paper, in general, if you create an outline to start. An outline will allow you to (a) organize your paper by helping you to determine what order you would like to make your points in, (b) determine how you will get your ideas to connect together, (c) allow you to see if any portion of your paper needs to be fleshed out further, and (d) will assist you in finding ways to make your writing simply flow better.

You will be required to submit a preliminary outline in week three of the summer session. Your outline should be in a traditional ALPHANUMERIC OUTLINE format. (Your outline should NOT use full sentences.) The link below shows you examples of an alphanumeric outline. If you have any questions about how to construct your outline do not hesitate to ask. (Links to an external site.)

Choosing a Topic Assignment

Stage 5: Written Report:
You will need to write a paper developing your argument, drawing your own conclusions, and discussing the implications of your conclusions for society. You should write this paper as if it were a professional document that would be read by an interested but uninformed audience. In other words, do not assume that your audience is familiar with this assignment or any material we have covered in class (no references to “for this assignment, “as we discussed in lecture,” etc.). You should be as specific as possible in describing the concepts, theories, research, and findings you have researched. Your conclusions about this research and your discussion of implications should logically flow from your research.

You must use subheadings to divide the sections of your paper. Your paper MUST include the following FIVE subheadings in the following order:

Introduction: Briefly but clearly describe your thesis statement, the theory or theories you’ve looked at, the medium (or media) you are concentrating on, and briefly justify why you’ve chosen to examine this topic.
Literature Review: Remember that this is not a book review or simple summary of the studies that you’ve read. Here is the body of your paper and is where you should develop your arguments as described above. Be sure to cite any material you refer to. For example, if you use the phrase: “Research studies have found…,” cite the specific studies you are referring to. If you note any statistics or effects (60% of all alcohol ads contain…) you must cite your source of information. DO NOT EVER CUT AND PASTE FROM ANOTHER SOURCE WITHOUT GIVING PROPER CREDIT. Quoted material should be enclosed in quotation marks with author, date, and page number of your source included. You are expected to use your own words to summarize the content of other research studies and to develop your own theoretically based argument for potential effects. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism and leads to the infraction being reported to the Office for Judicial Affairs. If you have any questions about the way in which you have referenced material in your paper, ASK ME prior to submitting the assignment.
Conclusion: Here is where you draw your conclusion from your study of the existing research, tying the research from the literature review section together. Your conclusions should logically flow from your findings, should briefly summarize what you found and how you see your resources interrelate. Your outline will assist here as well.
Discussion: Here is where you discuss the implications of what you found for society and/or consumers.
References: Your reference list must adhere to the style of the American Psychological Association (APA style).
NOTE: The most substantive part of your paper will be the literature review section. However this does not mean you are to neglect the conclusion or the discussion sections. The introduction, conclusion, and discussion sections are each worth 10% of your final paper grade. DO NOT SUBMIT PAPERS WHERE THESE SECTIONS ARE MERELY ONE OR TWO VERY BRIEF PARAGRAPHS.These sections must be properly fleshed out.

As outlined on the course syllabus, all papers must be written in 10 or 12-point type. Font style must be Times New Roman or Courier. Papers should have one-inch margins on the left, right, top and bottom. Your name must be in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of text. Cover sheets and reference pages NEVER count toward the page total.

Papers should be 10 double-spaced pages long. If necessary, you can go over the page limit, though I don’t recommend going too much less. Papers that are drastically less will lose points. Remember, your title page (if you include one) and your references page does not count toward this page total.

You are expected to use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Any references or quotes from sources must be correctly cited using APA citation style. See: (Links to an external site.) (Your paper does not need to adhere to APA style in any other way [header style, page numbers, title page, etc.].) In addition you will find a guide to APA citation format on the course Canvas site. Also, other resources in how to use APA citation format can be found on the Internet.

Choosing a Topic Assignment


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