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COMM 430: Communication Research and Inquiry

Defining your topic and crafting your research question

Selecting a Topic

Deciding on a topic can be one of the toughest parts of writing a research paper. The resources on this page can help start the brainstorming process. You can also look for background information in the sources below.

Ask Yourself

Ask yourself the following questions about your topic to make sure you've picked a topic that will keep both yourself and your audience (those reading your paper) engaged. If you can answer yes to all the questions, you're ready to start gathering sources. Source

  • Am I interested in the topic?
  • Will I enjoy researching this topic?
  • Will I enjoy talking about this topic and sharing my information with my readers?
  • Will my readers be interested in my topic?

Brainstorming

The following tools are digital aids to help with the brainstorming process.  You can either use them or just a good old fashioned pencil and paper to map out ideas (including nebulous, half formed ideas) on your topic.

From here you can narrow your research topic using logic similar to that in the graphic to the right.

 

Topic ideas

 

Narrowing a research topic graphic

Opposing Viewpoints and CQ Researcher

These databases are an excellent source for articles on all types of social and controversial issues. Different perspectives on the issues they cover are provided with topic overviewspro/con viewpoints, court-case overviews, and more.  If you're not sure about your topic, you can browse through a list of current topics and issues to help give you ideas. 

 

Opposing Viepoints

 

CQ Researcher

 

WSU Libraries has a number of print books from both the Opposing Viewpoints series and the Taking Sides series that can assist you in determining topics for a persuasive or informative speech. Search "opposing viewpoints" or "taking sides" in SmartSearch (on the Finding Books & Articles tab to the left).

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