Your Original Title Based on Your Work
There are different ways to format things, as you have seen with some of our examples. Here, you should give some kind of broad background on what it is you are looking at. Perhaps you want to discuss online behavior. Maybe you want to look at the development of group norms or collective identity. Maybe your focus is more on leisure and what it generally does and looks like for people. Perhaps you are getting more specific and want to talk about gaming as a social phenomenon, which would probably involve getting some statistics about use. Make sure to cite your sources! Overall, this paper should be about four to seven (4-7) pages, excluding your images/charts, references, and optional code book (which might seem like a lot, but it is probably going to be frustratingly short).
The introduction should be about one half (1/2) to one (1) page, the literature review about one quarter (1/4) to one half (1/2) page, the methods section one quarter (1/4) to one half (1/2) page, the findings section should be one page per your three themes (3 pages), and the conclusion (including limitations and future research) should be about one half (1/2) to one (1) page. As a reminder, these counts do not include your images! So you may want to add your charts and tables in after you get an accurate count. You can note where you want things to go like this: [Averages Table 1]. That will allow you to easily return later. Please also include a reference section. Also keep in mind that you can use and cite course content if it is relevant! As a general writing note, please make sure paragraphs are between 4-8 sentences. If you have a paragraph that is approaching a page long, please break it up!
This section of your paper is an opportunity to outline not only the scope of a topic, but also why the reader should care. Why is this important? If you are looking at subreddits focused on cute animals, how important are pets in people’s everyday lives? You want to convey to the reader, briefly, why they should care. Your introduction should also include brief information about the project. The following sentences are an example of that. While video games have become increasingly prominent in people’s everyday lives, it is important to consider how they continue to impact players outside of just playing the game.
This project uses online forum discussions from Reddit to better understand how people talk about their gaming experiences. You would also want to include a little bit about your major conclusions (very briefly). If you had to boil your findings down to a few words, what did you see happening? You can also use this space to discuss your research questions. Otherwise, you can put your research questions in the literature review or methods sections, but you want to refer to them somewhere before you discuss your findings/analysis. Try incorporating the major findings in a thesis statement toward the end of the introduction, like what follows. Video game players’ lives online are oriented around fan art, social support, and in-depth game analysis.
Because this is a short paper, you do not have a lot of space for this! You will want to just find some major points related to what you are looking at, even if they are tangential (Brown 2020). I have made up some citations here just to show you some formatting. Use a citation style that you are familiar and comfortable with (Gutierrez 2019). I use ASA style for my own work, but you may want to use MLA or APA. The main goal is to find some interesting previous research conducted by academic researchers (so it should be peer-reviewed!) to show us something about: online interaction (Jones 2003), leisure (Richards 2005), or whatever else you might want to discuss that is relevant to your chosen subreddit and research questions in a very short space (Chen 2018). You should be okay with just three to five sources, but you can include more!
In this section, you will discuss what you did and how you did it. You want to detail what kind of methods you used (did you use limited statistical approaches? Is your entire project qualitative? Why did you make the decisions you made?). You will also detail the subreddit here, including things like number of members, typical online users, typical activity in terms of upvotes and comments. This more general information can be presented in paragraph format or in a table, but you will want to explain the table if you choose that. Also, what is the subreddit generally used for? Discuss your coding strategy, what programs you used and why, and what the data looks like. In terms of the data, you want to include how you selected posts, how many posts/comments, and why you made these specific decisions. Because this is practice, it is okay for this not to be perfect, but give the reader a general idea of how you worked with your data. You can also cite course content here! I will provide some citation examples for you.
FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS
Here is where you get into what the data actually looks like and what it shows. This will be the longest portion of the paper because this is your contribution. Research is building knowledge so you are making new knowledge here! You will want to set up your findings very briefly in an introductory paragraph that sums up each theme in about a sentence each. Remember, however, that paragraphs should be four to eight sentences.
You might not have a section like this and that is okay! Remember, each of your themes will be unique to your project! If there is fan art involved in what you are looking at, you should probably include something about fan art or even fan fiction in your literature review to talk about fan behaviors. This will build a nice link between what you see and what we already know. You can include an example, if relevant, but make sure to size it appropriately. You would want to include a discussion of why this piece of art illustrates something about the community and about the patterns that you notice with fan art. Is it very popular? What kinds of art happen most frequently? Are the art pieces related to narrative? Celebrating characters? If you have a large enough sample, you can even include a bar chart! This is another way that you can show evidence for your observations. Think of this as functionally similar to including quotes.
Each theme should have at least one visualization, which can include quotes, images, tables, charts, or graphs. At least one of these visualizations should be a chart, table, or graph, even if you are doing a fully qualitative project. According to one user of this subreddit, if you have quotes that are 40 or more words please make sure to use:
Block quotes, which are formatted a bit differently than the rest of the paper. You want to keep these to a few sentences, but these are a good way to show what people talked about. We saw examples of this in the example article about Dorian in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
You should have an explanation for each example in terms of how you are interpreting it and how it fits with your broader observations. It can be helpful to organize this into some major themes that you notice or that you analyzed. So, for example, I might have some subsections related directly to specific behaviors I notice. If you can speak to any of the research questions, address them in the analysis! Link your findings to them. Give your reader a very brief outline of the themes that you will discuss (about four sentences) and then talk about them directly under their corresponding headings.
Conversational Areas of Focus
This would be something you would want to show through specific interactions that you saw. In this case, you may link it to literature on online forums, group identity, social support, or prosocial behaviors online. This would be highly linked to how you code and interpret things, so you would want to make it very clear why you read certain quotes specific ways. Remember, the theme names and things that you focus on are up to you in terms of what you see in the literature, the data, and how you want to organize and focus your final paper. There is a lot of leeway for what you can and should include, but make sure to follow these instructions as well as the checklist available with your assignment submission.
This would be an excellent time to show direct quotes as evidence in the form of block quotes or screenshots, but depending on how you organized and analyzed your data, other visualizations may also be appropriate. You would want to tie this to why these observations are important in the conclusion, but use this space just to discuss the observations that you have. What did you see in the forum? How did the support manifest? What are examples of that support?
In the event that you are finding that the subreddit users talk a lot about their activity in ways that make it seem to reduce stress (talking about the calming effect, how it is a good way to relax, or how it makes them happy, for example), you might want to revisit your literature and build on this a bit. It is okay if there are not a lot of direct linked between the literature and you paper, but if you can find that, that is extremely useful for organizing the paper. You might want to include bar charts for numbers of kinds of statements that you coded as dealing with stress relief and/or some quotes to illustrate good examples of how people show that they use this activity to reduce stress.
The conclusion will bring us back to the broader topic at hand. What was it you set out to do with this project again? Also, address whether you were able to answer some or all of the questions. Remind the reader of the major findings/points that you made in the analysis and tie this back to the literature and introduction. What do these findings ultimately mean? What are people doing, experiencing, using forums for, using their activity for?
This is also where you should discuss limitations of the study. This can include things like timeframe (it was not very long to gather data – how does that affect things?), limitations of using Reddit (consider sampling and populations here), and the sample size itself (what are some potential concerns? Why?). Why might you not have been able to adequately answer your research questions?
Finally, whether you were able to answer your questions or not, is this (or something related to it) something that we should study more? How would future work be able to address some of the limitations of this project? If you had the opportunity to do this project again, what would you change about the methods, for example, to produce a better study?
Brown, Steven. 2020. “Using Somewhat Unrelated Work for Your Literature Review.” Annual
Review of Reviews 71(3):231-264.
Chen, Ryan. 2018. “Writing a Literature Review Without Much Room.” Literature Reviews
This portion is optional and would just be your code book made available for your reader. This is how you defined your terms/abbreviations used in the analysis process.
|Lvl 1||Refers to a level one comment. This is the first line of comment responses to the original post.|
|Term of Analysis||Meaning||Example|
|Positive||Coded as comments that support the point they are responding to, use words that avoid offense or criticism, or celebrate something.||“I absolutely loved WEWH!”|
|Negative||Coded as a comment that is in opposition to, critical of, or hostile toward the point or topic they are responding to.||“I disagree. Cassandra is trash.”|
 You can include definitions of terms as footnotes as well, which you should also cite and place in your references (citation year).