Linguistics 300: Experimental Sociolinguistics

Winter 2017


Final Project (45%)

10% - Abstract and Bibliography (Due 2/20)

10% - Project Presentation (Due 2/28)

25% - Final Paper (Due 3/13)

For your final project, you will draw upon what we've discussed in class to propose an original research study in Experimental Sociolinguistics. You will complete and write a literature review of previous work that situates your research question and its broader theoretical implications to sociolinguistics, as well as previous work on the sociolinguistic variable you choose to study. You will show how your proposed study aims to address some gap in prior work, and describe the implications its findings would have for this broader body of literature. You will then propose a full experimental design for this study, including selection and description of an experimental paradigm, the measures and manipulations you will perform (and how), your hypotheses, details of stimuli, procedure, design, and participants recruited, and how you would conduct analysis to assess whether your hypothesis was confirmed. You should propose a study that you could carry out yourself.


Abstract and bibliography (due Monday 2/20 at 5 p.m.)

Abstract: In Week 8, you will submit an abstract of your proposed project (300 words or less). Your abstract should clearly put forth and motivate your research question, the variable you chose (and variants), the social factors you plan to examine, and the methods you plan to propose. Your research question and proposed methods should be formed in light of previous literature you review in your bibliography (and that you can cite in your abstract). Nearly all of the assigned articles have abstracts that can be useful templates for you (though these article abstracts are typically shorter than the abstract you will turn in).

Annotated Bibliography: The purpose of a literature review in research is to outline the existing work on the issue, to identify a gap in previous work related to this broader issue, and to thereby lead you to your own research question on the topic. To facilitate your literature review, you will turn in a bibliography of papers that you plan to cite in your paper. To include these, you should have read or skimmed the paper and deemed it useful to your question's background or argument. You are welcome to cite papers we have read in class, though your bibliography should include sources beyond course readings. All of the papers should be academic publications in linguistics or another field related to sociolinguistic cognition (psychology, cognitive science, sociology or anthropology) that pertain to the big question, social context, or variable you'll be using in your final paper. Use our Tuesday readings as resources as well -- these overview articles cite many studies that address our weekly "big questions" that may be of use. If you have searched these resources and are still having trouble finding relevant articles, e-mail Annette, who can suggest search terms that will lead you to appropriate literature.

You should include a citation for each paper (use APA citation style), along with a short (one to two sentence) description of the source's relevance to your project.

Upload your abstract and bibliography as a doc or PDF to Canvas by 5 p.m. Monday, February 20th.


Presentation (slides due Tuesday 2/28 (11 a.m.); presentations in class 2/28 and 3/2)

You will give a short (~5 minute) in-class presentation about your project. Annette will randomly generate which students are presenting on which days and announce this in advance. To ensure that everyone has an equal amount of time to prepare, everyone will upload their finished slides to Canvas by the beginning of class on the first presentation day.

Create slides to facilitate your presentation (approximately 5 slides). In the presentation, be sure to touch on the following:

  1. Your big question, its relation to sociolinguistic theory, and the gap you'll fill.
  2. Your research question and sociolinguistic variable.
  3. Your proposed methods, experimental design, and hypotheses.
  4. One to two points or questions related to your project that you'd like class feedback on.

Since you are presenting to the class, you can assume familiarity with the theoretical concepts we've discussed in class, so while you should offer some framing of your research question, focus primarily on the details of your proposed study. Keep in mind that we may not all be familiar with your variable or paradigm, so you should contextualize your study in a way that makes your question and hypotheses clear. Use your slides as an aid for your presentation. Your slides should be clearly organized and easy to read, and should guide your presentation -- you should not be simply reading off of slides.

We will have one to two minutes for questions and discussion following each presentation. Asking and answering questions will factor into your grade for this assignment.

Final Paper (due Monday 3/13 at 11:59 p.m.)

You will write up a research proposal, approximately 10 pages, double spaced. The paper should contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction/Literature Review: Provide a thorough, synthesized review of previous work on your big question, leading us to your narrower research question. Also review relevant work on the variable you're testing and its social patterning, highlighting findings that will be particularly important for your proposed project. Clearly pose your research question and hypotheses in light of your introduction and literature review. What question would you like to answer? How will you answer it? What are your hypotheses, and why (based on previous findings)?

  2. Methods: Explain in detail methods you will use and your experimental design. This should constitute a complete Methods section of a completed research paper, with all the necessary components (use course readings of experimental studies as a guide). You should include information (in subsections) about your:

    • Paradigm (describe and cite previous uses of it to justify your selection), the design of your experiment (is your manipulation between or within subjects? randomizing? balancing? how many trials? how will you deal with potential confounds?)
    • Stimuli (who are your talkers? naturally produced or manipulated? fillers? where will you obtain any visual stimuli?)
    • The experimental procedure (what will participants do when they come to your experiment, from beginning to end? practice rounds? what happens in each trial? follow up surveys/questionnaires? what specifically will be asked?)
    • Participants (who is your pool? why? recruiting? exclusions?)
    • Analysis (how will you need to analyze the data to test your hypotheses? what comparisons will you need to make? description of particular statistical tests is encouraged but not required)

  3. Expected results and discussion: Explain how you will know whether your hypothesis is confirmed, and if it is, what this would mean in the broader picture of your literature review and the theoretical concepts we have discussed. What analysis would you have to perform on the resulting data to answer your research question? If your hypothesis is correct, what do you expect to find? What is a next step you would take if your hypothesis is not confirmed by the data?

  4. Be sure to include a list of references (works cited) at the end of your paper. Use APA citation conventions.

Submit your finished paper via Canvas by 11:59 p.m. Monday March 13 as a PDF or Word doc. As noted on the syllabus, no late final papers will be accepted.