Quantitative research papers which use methods like experiments, surveys, and content analysis typically follow a certain format.
Quantitative research paper outline:
- Review of literature
- Research question(s)/hypothesis
Rhetorical criticism papers usually take a different approach.
Writing the Rhetorical Criticism Essay (based on S.K. Foss)
- Identify artifact (or text to be studied), RQ, Contribution to Theory, Hint of Justification (why is it important to study?)
- Description of the Artifact
- Text, Context & Justification
- Description of the Unit of Analysis
- What specifically about the text is being studied?
- Determined by method
- Report of the Findings of the Analysis
- Bulk of the essay
- Organization determined by method
- Contributing to Answering the Research Question
- Answer RQ, implications of research results, significance of research results
In the introduction the author identifies the artifact or text being studied (e.g., a TV commercial) and indicates research questions (RQs) they want to answer (e.g., what words or phrases are used and what role do they play in persuading?). The author would also indicate how their study adds to previously developed theory and also give some indication of why their study is important.
In the description of the artifact (or text), the author would describe the details about the text (who, what, where, when, etc.). There is no analysis yet, just the facts about the text. The author would also provide some context for the text. For example, if an author were analyzing a protest song of the 1960s, the author would want to provide description of what was happening in U.S. society at the time (Vietnam War, assassinations, civil rights, etc.). The author would elaborate more on why their research, their paper is important. That is, give justification for why their work should be read.
Lyrics for "Ohio". If you are interested in some context, see Kent State shootings article.
In the description of the unit of analysis, the author indicates what specific aspect of the text will be studied. For example, a researcher studying a presidential debate may just focus on the nonverbal aspects of the debate.
The author then spends most of the essay going through their analysis detail by detail from the beginning of the text to the end.
After a detailed analysis, the author closes by offering an answer to the initial research question(s), talks about what their findings mean for future research and stresses the importance of their research.
If you did some rhetorical criticism on a song or a set of songs that you especially like, what would they be and what do you think you'd find?
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