Skip to Main Content

CM722 Communication Research (Fall 2022)

Developing Your Research Topic   
(Adapted from ACRL Resources)

This exercise is designed to help you develop a well thought-out research topic for your research paper. 

  • What research topic interests you? 
  • How did you become interested in this topic? 
  • Consider the following aspects of your topic:
    • Who? (Who is involved? Who does it affect? Is there a specific population you want to focus on? A specific place? Who are the stakeholders? Why? What are their opinions?)
    • What? (What is the issue or problem you are addressing? Why does this topic matter to you? Why should it matter to others?)
    • Where?  (Where did it begin? Is there a geographic location involved? Where does this fall on the moral spectrum? (Good/bad/just)
    • How?  (How does one aspect of your topic affect other issues? How serious is the issue/problem? How could it be solved?)
  • Do background reading
    It is helpful to gather basic information about your topic. Searching Google and Wikipedia can be a helpful starting place to look for the most basic information, but be sure to consult the library resource guide & library catalog for more in-depth information. 
    • Can you identify any major concepts or theories related to your topic? 
    • List & define the basic terms used in this topic / issue  (Note: keep in mind, different stakeholders may define or "see" things differently)
    • From your background reading, did you find any additional keywords to use when you search? (List them)
    • Can you identify specific scholars or experts who do research on this particular topic?  (List them)
    • Did the articles & materials you found cite any useful sources that you could consult for your research? (List them)

  • Social Structures & Social Justice
    What roles do social structures play in your topic/issue? Looking at your topic, can you answer at least 2 of the following questions? 
    • Economics - what is the role of economics in this topic or issue? Does someone benefit? Is someone burdened? Who is responsible? 
    • Politics - What is the role of politics here? Who has the power? What kind of power? What role does politics play in the history of this issue? 
    • Culture - What is the role of culture? Which cultures play a prominent role here? 
    • Environment - How is the environment impacted? How is the issue impacted by the environment? What is the geography of the issue (Where is this happening or potentially happening? Where is it not?)
    • Religion - What role does religion play in the history of your issue?  Does it have a role in the current situation? 

  • Scholarly Communication
    • Which subject areas (disciplines) investigate and research your topic? 
    • Our Library Resources, both online databases and research guides are arranged by subject areas and they can help you find scholarly information more efficiently. 



Head, African Studies Library

Profile Photo
Beth Restrick
African Studies Library
6th floor, Mugar Memorial Library

Mon-Fri, 9am- 5pm
Subjects: African Studies