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Speech Communication: Speech Research Basics

Getting Started with Your Topic

Have an idea for a Speech Topic?  Think about your assignment.  Did your instructor assign a theme?  Are you an expert and would like to share something about what you do? 

Start with some brainstorming.  Think of 4 or 5 words that describe your topic.  You might want to look at the outlines in Wikipedia or use the Mind map in Credo Reference. These resources can help you get better terms to use with research.  You may also find that Gale ebooks, a collection of subject encyclopedias, may be helpful for brief, factual information.

You can also look for books in the Library's catalog.  Search using keywords and look at the book's record.  Are there chapter headings that help you focus your topic?  What subject headings are used?

For more practice, check out our Research Fundamentals guide to developing Topics.

Research Tip: 

Use the editorial questions WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW to help narrow your topic into a more manageable research question.

Find Articles

General Databases

Find articles on any subject.  The databases include scholarly and popular sources.

Best bets to get started: 

Subject Databases



Check here for current or local information--great for statistics and descriptive examples.


Research Tip: 

Library Research Guides are created by COD Librarians to help you navigate research into specialized topics.




Evaluate your sources

Think about Your Sources

Whether you're researching a topic for an assignment or for your own use, you want information that is both useful and credible. You'll need to think about when and where the source was published.  Who is behind the information? Does it support your argument?

How do you determine these things?  One tool that you can use is the CRAAP Test.

Another way to think about your sources is to try the SIFT method.  You can find out more about who created the information and why it's available by doing some background research.  You can read outside of the source to establish credibility and quickly do some fact-checking.

Remember, the CRAAP Test isn't a checklist, but a guide to help you consider whether a source is appropriate for your specific need.

For more information about evaluating sources:


Cite My Research

Citation styles provide rules for formatting your citations or references. Although there are many different citation styles, those most commonly used by students at College of DuPage are American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), and Chicago/Turabian. The style you should use is usually determined by the discipline or course in which you are working. Ask your instructor what style is required or recommended.


Research tip: 

Many of COD's databases will help you generate a citation in the style you need.  You can also create citations from Google Scholar by clicking on the quote marks next to "cite" under the article. But be sure to proof-read the citations for errors!

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