The MS2002 Content Analysis Group Research Assignment comprises two linked assignments:
1) A Group Report (3500 words) of a content analysis group project (40% of the module mark). Deadline: 9 May
2) An Individual Reflective Report (800 words) on the group research assignment project (10% of the module mark). Deadline: 9 May.
The assignment is done in groups of 4-5 students in each group. In the first week of teaching, students will be informed of their groups. Approximately half of each week’s seminar will be spent working in groups on the development of the research assignment.
Each group should elect a Group Leader who will serve as the main coordinator and spokesperson for the group.
The first task for each research group is to prepare their initial ideas about their project, in terms of the work they will carry out, for presentation in the MS2002 Seminar. You should therefore arrange to meet as a group in advance of the designated seminar to prepare the presentation of your initial research plan/strategy – allow maximum 10 minutes for your presentation. It is important to treat this presentation as a ‘business presentation’ in the sense that you – as a research group – need to ‘sell’ your research plan/strategy to the Seminar Tutor and your fellow students. This is also your first opportunity to get initial feedback and advice about your project plan and the proposed organisation of your work.
The progression of the group work will be advanced through further meetings that each group schedules themselves
and through regular reviews of progress in the MS2002 seminars.
While the final hand-in date is in May, it is strongly advised that groups – in planning their work – aim for a full draft report to be completed by the end of Term 2 in March.
Please also note, that in the interest of progressing the group work efficiently, each meeting that the group organises
should have an agreed agenda, should allow all team members to make a contribution, should be minuted and should end in clear agreement of the tasks to be performed for the next meeting or seminar.
Remember that as well as a Group Report which you must construct together, each Group Member must produce her
or his own Individual Reflective Account which must be handed in at the same time as the Group Report. It is important to understand that the objective of this assignment is to test your ability to work as a team and to design
and pilot-test a small-scale content analysis. You should design your content analysis as if you are planning a full-scale content analysis project, but you will only be carrying out a small scale actual analysis – a pilot-analysis – for your report. The purpose of collecting and analysing a small pilot-analysis is to test/demonstrate that your research design would work in practice.
The Group Report should have the following structure and contain the following elements
1. Title page with names of group member
3. Review of literature (theory and previous/comparable research)
4. Sample and Method (including justification of variables)
8. Appendices (e.g. your content analysis code-book/schedule)
Further detail on what should be included under each of the principal sections of the Group Research report:
1. Title page with names of group member
2. Introduction/Abstract: A summary of the project, its key aims/objectives, sample, methods and intended outcomes.
3. Review of literature: Explain/justify how you have identified and selected relevant previous research and literature
for a brief review. Note that your ‘Review of literature’ should be brief, but succinct. The main purpose – in this assignment – of reviewing previous research relevant to your chosen topic is to get a brief overview of how previous
content analysis studies have approached this or comparable topics: e.g. what theoretical frameworks and, mportantly, what specific content analysis variables have previous studies used? You are not expected to provide a comprehensive review of previous research, but rather to identify selected key relevant content analysis studies that can serve to inform your own research design and development of content analysis variables.
4. Sample and Method: Explain/justify your selection of particular newspapers from the body of British national
newspapers; i.e. you are not expected to analyse all British national newspapers, but rather to select a sample of these, and to explain in the report why and on what grounds you have selected particular newspapers for analysis.
You should design your content analysis as if you are planning a full-scale content analysis project, and in this section you should explain/justify the size and nature of the proposed sample for a full-scale study. For the actual data-collection for this report you will, however, only be carrying out a small scale actual analysis of approximately 40 news articles – a pilot-analysis – for your report. The purpose of collecting and analysing a small pilot-analysis is to test/demonstrate that your research design would work in practice.
The time period selected for analysis. You should explain in the report the rationale for focusing on the selected period of coverage, e.g. a single week, a month, randomly selected dates from a longer period such as a whole year, etc.
The search-terms and criteria used for identifying relevant coverage, i.e. for determining whether a newspaper article
should be included in the analysis. This includes consideration of the type, number and combination of key- words/search-terms, and of where in the Nexis articles such terms can appear (e.g. headline only, at start, or full text).
Whichever criteria you decide on, these must be clearly described/explained in the report.
The rationale for the variables selected/developed for content analysis coding. Explain how the coding variables
selected for analysis relate to (if they do) variables used in previous comparable studies, and explain how the coding
variables are expected to provide evidence that will enable you to address/answer the general objective(s) of your
In addition to describing the key content analysis variables in this section of your report, include a copy of your full
coding schedule/code book as an appendix to your report.
5. Analysis: This assignment project is about planning and designing a full scale content analysis. You only, however,
actually code and analyse a small pilot sample of your planned larger-scale study. The analysis chapter is therefore
principally about describing how you would organise and analyse the data, if you had carried out a full scale study. You may, however, choose to do some analysis of your small pilot study and present your findings with the help, as
appropriate, of tables or graphs. But the main point for this section is to describe the kinds of analyses that you would expect to do in a full scale study.
6. Discussion/Conclusion: In the concluding part of your report, outline your conclusions and, more importantly, reflect critically on your research, e.g.: did it show what you expected it to show? Were there aspects of the sampling strategy or analysis that did not work as well as you had hoped they would? Were there parts of the analysis that might have been tackled differently or more productively/efficiently? What key lessons have you learnt from planning and designing this content analysis, and from conducting a small pilot analysis?
7. References: List the full reference for the texts referred to in the text-body of your report – this will principally be the studies mentioned/reviewed in your Literature Review section. References must be listed in alphabetical order by surname of first author.
8. Appendices: Include a copy of your content analysis coding schedule/code-book, but remember that the coding
schedule variables must be described and explained in the text-body of your report under the Sample and Method
The Individual Reflective Report should contain the following elements:
1. Your evaluation of how successful the project was in achieving its objectives. What did you think the group did well?
What do you think the group did poorly in relation to the project? (up to 350 words)
2. Your evaluation of the relative contribution of each team member, including an evaluation of your own contribution to the project (up to 350 words)
3. A list of points concerning how you would improve the way the project was conducted (up to 100 words).
Please refer to your Course Handbook for instructions on how to submit assignments. In relation to the Group Project Report, one student from the research team must be designated as the ‘lead’ researcher and the Group Project Report should be submitted under their name. Students then submit their Individual Reflective Account under their own name. These two assignments must be handed in on the same date.
You must sign a submission form to confirm that the assignment you are submitting is your own work and that you have acknowledged all your sources. (Please read carefully the section in your Course Handbook on ‘Plagiarism and
Select ONE from the following list of assignments:
1. How did the British national newspapers report on the EU Referendum of 2016?
2. How do the British national newspapers report on terrorism?
3. How do the British national newspapers report on the conflict in Syria?
4. How did the British national newspapers cover the Rio de Janeiro Olympics of 2016?
5. Examine and compare British national newspaper coverage of two selected foreign countries.
6. How do the British national newspapers report on climate change?
7. How have the British national newspapers constructed ‘binge drinking’ as a social problem?
8. How do the British national newspapers report on crime?