Instructions: Your paper should examine the ways in which a specific variable affects the process of persuasion (e.g., the effect of physical attractiveness on credibility, or the effect of peer pressure on conformity, or the effect of fear appeals on compliance with health messages). You should analyze and integrate findings of past research that explore the relationship between the variables you select.


  1. Types of sources: All articles must be scholarly, peer reviewed, and come from the EBSCO database Communication and Mass Media ( ). As you search for articles, limit your searches to full text and scholarly, peer reviewed (check boxes for these in “Limit your results” section of screen).
  2. Number of sources: Undergrad requirement is 5 articles;
  3. Writing style: Papers should be typed and double spaced with 1 inch margins and 12-point font. Use APA style for your in-text citations and reference list (see Purdue’s online writing lab for assistance at


This is an example of the basic format for a reference in APA style followed by an example from an article written in APA style:


Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. doi:0000000/000000000000 or

Li, J., Zhan L. (2011). Online persuasion: How the written word drives WOM – evidence from consumer-generated product reviews. Journal of Advertising Research, 51(1), 239-257. DOI: 10.2501/JAR-51-1-239-257

The in-text citation for this article in your paper could look like this:

“According to Li and Zhan (2011),…” or “Prior research has examined the effect of message features on WOM adoption (Li & Zahn, 2011).”


  1. Organization: Organize your paper into the following four sections using the bolded words as section headings:
  2. Research Question — Identify your research question that guided your search:
    1. What is the effect of X on Y? (e.g., What is the effect of peer pressure (X) on conformity (Y)? or What is the effect of explicit conclusions (X) on attitude toward the advertisement (Y)? What message characteristics (X) affect the receiver’s ability to accurately detect deception (Y)? What is the effect of verbal aggressiveness (X) on compliance (Y) in coaching contexts?
    2. What is the relationship between X & Y? (e.g., What is the relationship between attitude toward an advertisement (X) and purchasing intentions (Y)?)
  3. Variables — Explain how the variables (X & Y) are defined in the research you’ve read.
  4. Themes in Findings — What are the themes of the research you’ve read? Synthesize the findings.
    1. What results do you find reported consistently?
    2. What are some caveats or qualifiers to those findings?
  5. Future Research — What should be examined in future research?

Grading: Papers will be graded according to the following criteria.

A – Exceptional quality: The student demonstrates excellent understanding of the topic. The product is concise yet comprehensive, well organized, easily understood, and virtually error free. Arguments are clearly stated and well supported. The literature is not only clearly understood but also synthesized. It not only fulfills the assignment guidelines but also provides insightful analysis. Source requirement is met. There are virtually no errors in APA formatting.

B – Good quality: The student communicates strong knowledge of the topic without gross errors. The argument is generally logical and is supported with solid examples and/or sources. The literature is clearly understood and an attempt is made to synthesize the literature. Source requirement is met. There are a few, minor errors in APA formatting.

C – Mediocre quality: Errors in information and incomplete knowledge of the topic distract or interfere with the argument or presentation. The argument contains invalid components. There is no attempt to synthesize the literature. Some problems meeting source requirement. There are significant errors in APA formatting.

D – Unacceptable quality: The topic coverage is watered-down and disorganized, with major errors in the product. Significant holes exist in the argument. The student did not follow all guidelines. Did not meet source requirement in significant ways (not enough or several are not scholarly, peer-reviewed). There are significant errors in APA formatting or APA style is not used.

F – Failing quality: The student does not communicate understanding of the topic. It is undeveloped with many grammatical errors. The student did not do the assignment according to the guidelines.

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