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COMS 1301: Public Speaking: Research Process

Guide for Communication 1301 course.

When choosing a topic, take into consideration the requirements of your assignment, your interests, the amount of time you have to research the topic, and the length of your paper.  Listed below are library databases and web sites that may help you to brainstorm some ideas.

You may also want to look at the web sites of professional organizations in your field.  Often these organizations will identify areas of interest and advocacy within the discipline.

Narrowing a topic requires you to be more specific about your research interest.  If you are unsure about how to narrow your topic, ask the reporters’ questions “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “Why.”

For example:
You want to write a paper about the AIDS epidemic.  The topic “AIDS” is too broad to address in your paper.  Ask the reporters’ questions to narrow your topic.

  • Who? Who is the specific person/group to which you would like to limit your research?
    • United States government
  • What? What specific aspect of the broad topic idea is interesting to you?
    • Effects on children with HIV positive parents
  • Where? To which specific geographic area or region would you like to limit your research?
    • Africa
  • When? On what time period would you like your research focused?
    • The present
  • Why? Why do you think this is an important/interesting topic?
    • Organizations funded by the US providing "abstinence only" sex education

 

Based on your answers to the reporters’ questions, formulate a focused research topic.
Due to its "abstinence only" sex education policy in Africa, the United States has an obligation to African children whose parents have contracted AIDS since this policy's enforcement. 

 

You can also use the attached worksheet in order to narrow down your topic.

Identifying Search Terms

Once you have identified a topic, select the terms and phrases that are essential to understanding the topic. 

For example:

Topic – Due to its "abstinence only" sex education policy in Africa, the United States has an obligation to African children whose parents have contracted AIDS since this policy's enforcement.

Keywords: AIDS, Africa, children, sex education, US policy

Once you have identified the keywords, use a concept map to brainstorm related terms and phrases.  If you are having trouble identifying additional keywords, thesauri, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and online encyclopedias like Wikipedia can be great places to look for inspiration.

Research Process

Develop Research Topic

Video created by staff at Kansas State University Libraries

Picking Your Topic

Created by NCSU Library

Concept Map

A concept map is a graphical tool used to organize and structure knowledge. 

https://bubbl.us/

http://popplet.com/

mindmup

How to Use a Concept Map

Created by Katherine Miller and Tom Childs for Douglas College Library. Creative Commons license Share Alike.