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Communications and Media Studies: The Research Process

A general research guide for Communications and Media Studies

What's Your Topic?

Research is about asking probing questions of the relevant information available in the scholarly literature.  Research can also involve generating your own data and information through personal experience (e.g. structured interviews, oral histories, and surveys).

The process is illustrated in Figure 1.

The Research Process

Figure 1. The Research Process

The Research Process: Practical Steps

After you've narrowed your topic:

  • Use the book literature to provide a broad overview of your topic.  Use Dominican's online catalog to find books and films that may be helpful in understanding your topic.
  • Once you have a basic understanding of the topic, try searching Dominican's databases to find more focused, peer-reviewed literature on your research topic. 
  • Also, consider scholarly websites.  Examples of such websites can be found under the tab, "Websites to Get You Started."
  • Make an appointment with a librarian. Find us here.
  • Use the handout on Intellectual Standards for Research below to help you evaluate your sources.
  • To format your bibliographic citations, try:
    • using the cite icons that appear in the navigation (cut and paste)
    • searching for the citation at the end of the article (cut and paste)
    • saving or emailing the citation in the proper format
    • using RefWorks found on the Library's homepage.

Thesis Construction Guidelines

  • Consult with your instructors, librarians, and relevant community members to help identify a useful and interesting research topic.
  • Get an overview of the topic you're interested in researching.  This overview should include different ways of approaching the topic. Brainstorm on the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the aspects your topic.
  • Use these aspects of your topic to help refine your research question and generate search terms or keywords.
    • Use the worksheet below to help narrow your topic & construct your thesis.
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