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ENC 1101 - Rhetorical Analysis Project: Rhetorical Analysis Project Instructions Pt. 2

Ad Analysis project

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Assignment Instructions - Continued

Research Requirements

Research sources may only come from the following locations:

  • Books carried by the Polk State College library (books from Polk County public libraries are acceptable but not encouraged).
  • Academic journal articles from the following Polk State library databases (not every item in the databases is an academic journal article, so read carefully).
    • Academic OneFile (Gale)
    • Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)
    • JSTOR
  • A single Trade journal article from AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like. Students may only use one (1) article. Secondly, students must seek my approval on the article.  Some of these trade articles may not be useful, and I can help you determine that. (Trade journal articles are the only exception to the .com ban.  See below.)

No .com, .org, or .edu websites are acceptable.  One may use statistical data from .gov websites, but such evidence will not count towards your 5-7 source minimum.

If you use Google as your research tool rather than the databases located on the Polk State Library website, you have already failed this assignment.

If you cannot access the databases on the Polk State Library website, then you are not a student and must resolve this issue before the end of the course.  This means that you might not receive a grade for any of your courses.  Contact the Library first for help, and if the problem is not resolved, contact the Registrar’s office second.

These restrictions are designed for a single purpose: to force students to develop research skill sets using academic resources.  Mastery of this skill set is essential for college success.

Audience: For whom is the student writing?

Academic writing requires objective third person.  There should be little to no reason why anyone should use first person (“I”).

Avoid second person (“you”) always.  Using “you” rather than stating exactly the person one means is sloppy essay writing.

Assignment Requirements

The Research Proposal

  • Clearly defined thesis (the “I intend to prove that” statement)
  • Clearly identified advertisements to be compared
  • Clearly identified databases used to locate articles
  • Works Cited page in MLA format with at least 7 academically credible sources (No .com websites other than those specifically used by advertisers such as AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like.  This means no newspapers or news magazines.)
  • Copies of ads analyzed (black and white photocopies are acceptable)

Annotated Bibliography

  • Summary of three research articles to be used in the research paper.
  • Evaluations of the three summarized research articles.
  • MLA citations of the three articles, each citation above appropriate summary and evaluation
  • More details to follow; see Annotated Bibliography handout.


  • Clearly defined outline using the standard (I.A.1.a . . . format)
  • Introduction with thesis
  • Support paragraphs with indication of research sources to be used
  • Conclusion with implications

The Research Paper

  • 1,500 – 2,000 word essay (5-7 pages) in MLA format (do not count works cited as part of the word/page count).
  • Works Cited page in MLA format with at least 5 academically credible sources. (No .com websites other than those specifically used by advertisers such as AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like. This means no newspapers or news magazines.)
  • Copies of ads analyzed (black and white photocopies are acceptable) 

Tips for Success

The Abbreviated Research Proposal

Your research proposal should be broken into two portions: the proposed hypothesis and the proposed works cited.

The proposed hypothesis should clearly state a belief or argument known as a thesis.

Bad example:  “Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge.”  The thesis is not debatable and essentially offers no interpretation of the play.

Better example: “Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother.”  This thesis is debatable and demonstrates an interpretation of the play.  With this thesis, a student could debate how Hamlet is in love with his mother, why he's in love with her, and how this fact affects the play’s meaning.

Note: the above examples reference a literature example because I do not want students taking my advertising thesis for their papers rather than making one of their own. 

You will know that you have a viable thesis statement if you can argue both for and against your statement.

An easy method is to begin your thesis with “I intend to prove that . . .” Finish the rest of the statement, and if your thesis makes sense, then you have something to work with.  

Your Abbreviated Research Proposal’s works cited list will contain more research sources than you are required in your research papers: you will need 7 research sources in the research proposal and 5 in the research papers.  This is because for the proposal you are looking to see what is out there and what might work.  You may find later as you assemble your essays that some of the research is not applicable.  It is better to have more research before you begin so that you can pick and choose the best, or be prepared in case some of the research you found doesn’t apply or contradicts your initial thesis. 

For the proposal, you are only coming up with an argument and locating research that addresses that argument.

The Final Research Paper

In your Final Research Paper, your focus will be on your hypothesis and not the ads themselves.  At least two-thirds of your essay should address the topic, such as celebrity endorsement and how it is used.  Once you have covered the thesis, then use the two print advertisements as examples that illustrate your argument.

Remember to delete the words “I intend to prove that” from your introduction.  Those words are to help you organize your thoughts.

The art of the research paper is to make claims and then back up those claims with research and evidence.


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