Theory Analysis Paper

Our textbook is: A first look at communication theory 10th edition


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The purpose of this assignment is to assist you in developing your skills at locating academic work that embodies the communication theories we have studied this semester. Completing this assignment should increase your understanding of how theories are built and tested with research. This is a research-based paper, and you should expect to spend time using databases to complete this assignment. This paper is 3000 words minimum plus a Title Page and References Page and is worth 200 points (20% of your course grade).

General Paper Requirements

1. First, choose one of the theories in the textbook (I will provide some suggestions on your choices). If none of the theories we’ve discussed so far have interested you, then look ahead in the textbook.

2. Once you have chosen a theory, find a minimum of five communication academic sources that develop, analyze, criticize, or test the theory somehow. The minimum is five academic sources + Griffin’s textbook.

3. You will use these sources along with our textbook to summarize and analyze your theory.

Paper Format (use headings in your paper for the sections below in bold)

1. Your paper should have a title page according to APA style.

2. Introduction – Begin the paper with a brief (about 1 page) Introduction, including a thesis and the purpose of your paper.

3. Theory Summary – Next, (2 pages minimum) summarize the theory. Who are the authors? What is the theory about? What are the key concepts? Use your textbook and other sources as citations and support.

4. Theory Worldview – Using your sources and our notes, argue whether the theory is primarily objective or interpretive. Then identify and explain where it should be placed on Griffin’s Map of Theory Traditions. After that paragraph(s), specifically apply the terms epistemology, ontology, and axiology to your theory. What is your theory’s epistemology? How does the theorist see the world? Its ontology? Its axiology? It’s best to organize this section with a paragraph for each of these three terms (each “ology”) – 2 pages minimum.

5. Theory Analysis – The third section (3 pages minimum) is the bulk of your paper and the most important section. This section is called your Theory Analysis. Based on your decision whether your theory is objective or interpretive, apply Griffin’s standards for a good theory (see Chapter 3), and argue if the theory does or does not satisfy the standards. For example, does Uncertainty Reduction Theory satisfy the standard of “Relative Simplicity?” Why or why not? This section is where you rely primarily on your sources for evidence to support your arguments. For example, once you make a point that the theory does or does not satisfy a standard, you will support that point with examples from your textbook and/or additional sources. Important: Only apply the appropriate six standards to your theory (objective or interpretive), not all twelve standards. Finally, it’s best to organize this section with at least one paragraph per each of the six standards (“The first standard is. . .”).

6. Conclusion – Close your paper with a Conclusion section (1 page minimum) summarizing what your paper has accomplished and end with any final comments about your theory.

7. References – Your paper will have a References page that lists all of the sources (and only the sources) you used in your paper. Please follow strict APA style rules.

8. Your paper will be typed, double-spaced, one-inch margins, with a 12pt font (Times font is a good choice).

9. You will include the word count on the title page.

10. Submit your paper using the turnitin tool. ADVICE: save and submit your paper as a PDF. This file type is the BEST way to keep your format and look of your paper. If you do not know how to “save your document as a PDF,” Google it!


The Theory Analysis Paper is worth up to 200 points. Grading is based on the following general criteria:

1. How accurately did you follow the Instructions and Format?

2. How accurately did you summarize and explain the theory?

3. How well did you use your sources to make your arguments?

4. How insightful and detailed is your Analysis section? THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!!!

5. How professional is your paper (free of grammar/spelling/APA errors)?


If you want to earn a grade higher than a “C”, then this will require starting your paper early, writing several drafts of your paper, and using more than the minimum six sources.

READ: Theory Analysis Paper Sources
The following are textbooks that you might find helpful writing your Theory Analysis Paper. If you do a Google search you can sometimes find the free PDF for these textbooks. Try to find the most recent edition. Good luck searching!

Theories of Human Communication by Littlejohn and Foss
Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application by West and Turner

Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication: Multiple Perspectives by Braithwaite and Schrodt

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