COMM 698: "Planning for First-Year Research Project" -- Fall 2015
Prof. Sandvig, University of Michigan
http://698.niftyc.org/

 

Announcements

 

 

Instructor

Prof. Christian Sandvig
csandvig@umich.edu
734/763-0861
http://www.niftyc.org/
Office: 5385 North Quad
My mailbox is in the Communication Studies 5th floor mailbox room (5334 North Quad)
Office Hours: 3:00-4:00 p.m. and by appointment

Course Description

The focus of this course is the creation of new knowledge during the Ph.D. and beyond it. A Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the academic credential that certifies the recipient is able to create new knowledge. People who hold the Ph.D. go on to do many things, but the task of creating new knowledge is a special one. Successfully passing the Ph.D. requires that the recipient demonstrate this ability, but beyond any official requirements creating new knowledge is the task to which many Ph.D.s devote the rest of their lives. As researchers or in other roles, in higher education or elsewhere, to be effective those who hold a Ph.D. must also appreciate the limits of knowledge and the processes by which knowledge is created and shared.

This course will help you plan and begin to implement a substantive first doctoral research project, in other words, an attempt to create new knowledge. The research project will follow the conventions of scholarly communication appropriate to your area of interest -- typically a conference paper. The entire research project should take approximately one year to complete. You will make a public presentation of your project as part of a panel in about one year (Fall 2016). This panel commonly takes place as part of our departmental colloquium series and is well-attended by faculty and graduate students.

Roughly half of our class time will be treated as a workshop for developing this research project. We will discuss your projects, short assigned readings about research, and the presentations of research made by others during the departmental colloquium. Outside of class, a faculty advisor who is expert in your subject area will also provide guidance on the project. At the end of this term your advisor will need to affirm that satisfactory progress has been made on the project so far.

The remaining half of our class time will be dedicated to understanding the scope of the field and the many facets of becoming a professional researcher. I have scheduled faculty members to visit our class and discuss their research and career trajectory. In addition, we will discuss short assigned readings related to the norms, organization, and practice of research.

Learning Objectives

Course Credit

Class Requirements

Students will be responsible for proposing a first-year doctoral research project and making satisfactory progress on this project throughout the term. (Satisfactory progress is defined in consultation with your external project advisor, and it depends on the project.) At the conclusion of the semester, students will submit a written research proposal of between 5-15 pages. The project proposal will be turned in electronically, as explained in class. No late work! No incompletes!

At each scheduled class session, everyone must arrive prepared to discuss the assigned readings for that date. In addition, students should have attended the previous regularly scheduled Departmental colloqium talk and be prepared to discuss it (see the Departmental calendar).

Required Books

  1. Buy the official style guide for your discipline or sub-discipline. In the humanities and social sciences, probably something like the Publication Manual of the APA, Turabian Style/Chicago Manual of Style, or the MLA Style Manual. Or buy all of them (COMIC: When You Spend Too Long Reading a Style Manual). Although it is not technically an academic style manual, many academics also find the AP Stylebook helpful because of the treatment of common wording and grammar problems.
  2. William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White. (1999). The Elements of Style. (new ed.) New York: Longman. (Any edition is fine except for the 1920 or 2011+ "Original Edition" that does not include E. B. White. It must have E. B. White. If it has Kalman as a co-author, I think that is OK -- this just means it is the illustrated edition.) (Purchase this book.)

Essential Software and Online Resources

 

Schedule

“How should I do doctoral research?” is a question where there is no single answer that will apply to everyone. This is a list of 14 weeks of readings that are often quite short, first-person accounts by people advocating a particular position or relating a personal experience. Some are polemical, sarcastic, and intentionally provocative. As is true in many seminars, the list is offered in the hope of producing a useful discussion, not because I agree with the particular claims.

(By Week #)

  1. (Sep 9:) What are We Doing Here? (Norms of the Academy)
    • There are no assigned readings for this week, except the syllabus. The following are optional.
    • COMIC: The Illustrated Guide to a PhD
    • FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WHAT WAS DISCUSSED IN CLASS: Turner, Stephen. "Scientific Norms/Counternorms." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ritzer, George (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Blackwell Reference Online.
    • FOR EVEN MORE DEPTH: Weber, M., (1946 [1921]). Science as a Vocation. In: From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Trans. H. H. Gerth & C. W. Mills. New York: Oxford University Press. (pp. 129–56)
  2. (Sep 16:) The Advisor/Advisee Relationship
  3. (Sep 23:) Professionalization
  4. (Sep 30:) Impostor Syndrome
    • COMIC: I still have no idea...
    • READING: Risk. In: Becker, Howard S. & Richards, Pamela. (2007). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (excerpt -- just the letter in Ch. 6: Risk, pp. 111-120) [Note: Two former students independently told me this letter was one of the most valuable readings they were assigned in their entire Ph.D. career. --Ed.]
  5. (Oct 7:) Selecting a Research Topic
    • COMIC: The statement of purpose
    • READING: So What? Who Cares? In: Graff, Gerald & Birkenstein, Cathy. (2009). They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing. (2nd ed.) New York: W. W. Norton & Company.  (ch. 7)
    • READING: Networking and Your Dissertation In: Agre, Phil. (2005). Networking on the Network: A Guide to Professional Skills for Ph.D. Students. Los Angeles: UCLA.
    • ACTIVITY: Peruse the division listings at ICA, NCA, and AEJMC. Divisions are also often described in the most recent CFP for an annual conference.
    • FOR MORE DEPTH: The Thesis Topic, Finding It. In: Peters, Robert L. (20). Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. (rev. ed.) New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (ch. 16)
  6. (Oct 14:) Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity, and Specialization
  7. (Oct 21:) Literature Reviews
    • COMIC: When You Find a New and Interesting Theorist
    • ACTIVITY: Come to class with one or more of the following that you are interested in for your first year project: a topical area, an object of study, research question, a method, a conference presentation venue you would like to target (e.g., a division of ICA), and/or an inspiring piece of communication scholarhip that you would like to emulate. (These are ungraded and non-binding.)
    • READING: Terrorized by the Literature. In: Becker, Howard S. & Richards, Pamela. (2007). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Ch. 9)
    • READING: Edwards, Paul N. (2015). How to Read a Book. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan. (Note: This isn't the Adler & Van Doren book of the same title.)
    • READING: The Difference Between Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources. In: Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G., & Williams, Joseph M. (2008). The Craft of Research. (3rd ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (pp. 68-70)
  8. (Oct 28:) Tone and Voice
    • COMIC: Deciphering Academese
    • ACTIVITY: Cursorily examine the literature (e.g., skim and/or glance at titles, abstracts and/or book reviews) until you can write one provisional "So What" and one "Who Cares" sentence (see the Graff & Birkenstein reading) for your proposed first year research project. Post these two sentences to the class discussion board on Canvas at least one hour before class begins. Note that this is a speculative exercise (you haven't done the research yet!).
    • READING: Excerpts from Persona and Authority (note esp.: On "Classier" Writing) and Bullshit Qualifications. In: Becker, Howard S. & Richards, Pamela. (2007). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (various excerpts from Ch. 1 and Ch. 2)
    • FOR MORE DEPTH: Peruse: Swales, John M. (2004). Research Genres. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  9. (Nov 4:) Evidence
    • COMIC: Evidence
    • ACTIVITY: Develop your project topic from last week by writing at least one set of (reason, evidence) pairs that are one sentence each, as described in the Booth reading. Post your (reason, evidence) pair(s) to the class discussion board on Canvas at least one hour before class begins. Note that this is a speculative exercise (you haven't done the research yet!). It is fine to revise your "So What" and "Who Cares" sentences from last week if this helps.
    • READING: Making Claims and Assembling Reasons and Evidence In: Booth, Wayne C., Colomb, Gregory G., & Williams, Joseph M. (2008). The Craft of Research. (3rd ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (ch. 8-9 excerpts)
    • FOR MORE DEPTH: Bem, Daryl J. (2002). Writing the Empirical Journal Article. In: Darley, J. M., Zanna, M. P., & Roediger III, H. L. (eds). The Compleat Academic: A Career Guide. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (for those working in a quantitative, empirical research tradition.)
  10. (Nov 11:) Writing and Rewriting
    • COMIC: "Final".doc
    • ACTIVITY: Revise the previous two discussion posts to produce a first project abstract in three or four sentences. Include a "So what?" statement, a "Who cares?" statement, and an evidence statement describing evidence YOU will develop (see Booth). Write the topic as an abstract that assumes the study has been completed -- your results (evidence) will be imaginary at this point. Post your topic to the discussion board on Canvas at least one hour before class begins.
    • READING: Excerpts on Rewriting In: Becker, Howard S. & Richards, Pamela. (2007). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (pp. 91-94)
    • READING: Excerpts from Getting it Done and Making Prose Speak. In: Germano, William.  From Dissertation to Book. (2nd ed.) Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (ch. 8, excerpts)
    • FOR MORE DEPTH: Re-read Strunk and White (above).
  11. (Nov 18:) Difference
    • COMIC: Visas
    • ACTIVITY: Make a post to the discussion board on Canvas at least one hour before class begins containing one single citation to a peer-reviewed scholarly publication that you admire and would like to emulate in your first-year research project. You do not have to admire this source unreservedly or totally -- you might select an article or chapter because it has an exemplary methods section, an exemplary literature review, beautiful writing, etc. The piece does not have to be in your area but it must be relevant to your area (in other words, it should be a model you are allowed to emulate in whatever subfield or research tradition you want to join).
    • READING: Who's Classier? From the Ms. Mentor advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
    • READING: Adjusting to American Universities. From the Tomorrow's Professor listserv.
    • READING: Minority Faculty in [Mainstream White] Academia and Women in Academia In: DeNeef, A. Leigh & Goodwin, Craufurd D. (2007). The Academic's Handbook. (3rd ed.) Durham, NC: Duke University Press. (ch. 5-6 excerpts)
    • RESOURCE: See also PhDisabled.
  12. (Nov 25:) SPECIAL EVENT: The COMM 698 Salon
    • IN CLASS: An open topic/discussion day set by those in attendance. No advance preparation is required. Note that the word "salon" is meant in the sense of "a gathering of eminent people" rather than "a commercial establishment offering health and beauty treatment."
  13. (Dec 2:) Presentations
  14. (Dec 9:) Publication and Peer Review
    IMPORTANT: This class meeting has been rescheduled to an alternative time and location. This information has been distributed via e-mail.
  15. (Dec 16:) NO CLASS -- Finals Week
     
  16. (Dec 22: -- Tuesday:) PROJECT PROPOSAL DUE
    IMPORTANT: The written final project proposal is due at 4 p.m. on this date. This is the final examination period for this seminar scheduled by the registrar. Submission of the written project proposal constitutes the final exam for this course -- there is no other exam. Submit your paper via e-mail to the instructor.

(tl;dr)