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COMM 101 Prof. Stephens; SPRING 2023: Steps in the Research Process

The Steps in the Research Process

  • Find a topic
  • Refine your topic
  • Find background information about your topic
  • Develop a research question about your topic (see below)
  • Identify keywords
  • Find scholarly articles in the library databases
  • Evaluate articles for relevance: do they answer your research question?
  • Write your paper and cite your sources

Developing a Research Question

Good academic communication should include an introduction in which your topic and thesis is clearly defined, an analysis of your topic, and a clear conclusion.

Start out by introducing your topic, communicating to your audience why the topic is important, and providing enough background information to allow your audience to understand the analysis that is about to take place. Your introduction is also the logical place to embed your thesis.

Examples of defining/introductory questions:

What is _________________?

o Why is ____________ an important issue?

o What background information is necessary to understand ______________?

o What are the different types of ____________?

All academic research demands analysis. Some projects lend themselves well to a cause/effect structure ("What caused hip-hop to emerge and what are some of the effects its had on American culture?), while other assignments require a pro/con format ("What are the positive aspects of stem cell research? What are some of the negative implications?). Some projects can easily conform to both modes.

Examples of analytical/body questions:

What are the causes of ________________?

o What are the effects of ________________?

o What are the “pro” arguments about_______________?

o What are the “con” arguments about ______________?

o How can I refute arguments about ______________?

o What is being done about ______________?

Your conclusion allows you to demonstrate to your instructor that you have synthesized the information you found and clearly answered your thesis question (informative projects) or effectively proven your thesis statement (persuasive/argumentative assignments).

Examples of concluding questions:

o What do I think should be done about ________________?

Based on my research what do I think about ________________ and why?

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