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Valerie Beech:

  • Strategic Communication
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  • Corporate Communication
  • Public Relations

Elisa Coghlan: 

  • Communication Studies
  • Digital Media
  • Journalism

About this guide

This guide was written for Dr. Xu's Spring and Fall 2022 course.  The guide helps you complete the first homework assignment.

Details about the assignment

(From Dr. Xu's assignment description and rubric.)

  • Answers the question: “Does A affect (or lead to, influence, a verb as you deem appropriate) B?”
  • Uses existing research to build a strong yet concise argument about why your research is important and why people should care about it.
  • Supports every claim with empirical evidence.
  • Presents a research question that is clear, specific, objective, and significant.

What is empirical research?

Empirical: a very short definition from the 3rd edition of the Dictionary of Pschology:

"Derived from observation or experiment rather than speculation or theory." 

In practice, empirical research is published in scholarly articles.  These articles usually have the following sections, though the headings can vary:

  –  A statement of the question studied
  –  An introduction/overview of the topic (sometimes called a literature review)
  –  A description of the methodology used to study the question
  –  A section describing the results
  –  A discussion of the implications of the results
  –  A list of references

Below is a short video (3:45) describing these articles, and showing what to look for.

Finding the articles:

Go to the Article Search page for databases and tips!

Online reference collection

Start with this online collection of (mostly) reference books.  Subject-specific encyclopedias, handbooks, companions, etc.

Sample encyclopedia articles

Below are sample encyclopedia articles which may be relevant to the topics assigned.

Go to the Subject Encyclopedias page for more.

Off campus access methods (authentication)

  • Library Login:  This method (a proxy server) is quick and easy, and requires no setup.  Just login before clicking on library links to databases. But a few databases will not work with it, and it is less reliable when there is heavy internet traffic or a slow connection.
  • VPN (virtual private network): The VPN requires you to download an app onto both your cell phone and your computer.  It is much more reliable during times of heavy internet traffic, and is well worth the necessary setup time. Outline of the steps required for the VPN:
    1. Find detailed VPN instructions from ITS here. Click on "How do I start using GlobalProtect VPN and Duo?"
    2. Register for Duo Mobile. Two ways to do that: via an email from ITS (; you can email and ask for "the VPN registration invitation email"); or if off-campus, via Office365.
    3. Download the Duo Mobile app onto your cell phone. Allow push notifications for it.
    4. Download the GlobalProtect app onto your computer.
    5. Complete GlobalProtect setup on your computer. (See step 3 instructions under "How do I start Using GlobalProtect VPN and Duo?"

Although the detailed instructions page refers you to Information Technology Services for help, at the Raynor Information Desk we can also help with some parts of the process.  Give us a call at (414) 288-7556.