Skip to main content
Link to Libraries homepage
Link to Libraries homepage
Rutgers University Libraries

Communication in Relationships (192:201) Tutorial: Choose a Topic

Browsing as Research

Step 1  Choose an aspect of interpersonal relatioships. Then:

  • Specify a context in which the relationship occurs

  • Think about all the possibilities that define a two-person interaction

  • Choose, for example,  between relationships of intimates, strangers, family members, friends, different cultures, co-workers, etc.  You can search these concepts in the  Encyclopedia of Human Relationships or the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

  • Review theories that describe them.

  • Remember ---all interpersonal relationships and interactions hinge upon how you define or perceive yourself, your role in relationships and how others perceive themselves.


  • Search on broad topics first to get ideas. This will help you

  • Identify search terms (keywords or subject terms) used to describe the theory, relationship or context you have chosen.

  • With a rough topic area you can begin browsing or searching to preliminarily assess current discourse, available resources, and feasibility of your topic.

  • Allow yourself a limited amount of time before deciding upon your topic, and stick to it!  Many a student's hour is wasted from abandoning a topic and starting all over again.

  • This is also a good time to consult your instructor whether your topic is properly framed in the context of your course work.

Step 3 Writing Research Questions:

  • Record the logical questions (several) you will need to answer for different aspects of your topic. Only then are you ready to search the very narrow topics covered by journal articles.

Tips and Suggestions #1: Skim Reference Books and Other Trusted Sources

Printed reference sources, and increasinlgy, electronic reference sources, remain useful tools for finding background information on important research, scholars and topics in a field. Here are some useful resources for research in interpersonal communication:

Need more help?

Try the following:

  • Explore many different theories and circumstances surrounding interpersonal concepts by clicking on "Entries A -Z" and then typing "interpersonal" into the search box in the Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.
  • ComAbstracts has a visual search explorer that you may find helpful - click on "Visual Communication Concept Explorer" on the top right side of the scree.


Using the resources listed on this page develop a concept map with your bubbl account that contains information you have already located in the bubbles and questions that have come to mind from those resources on the Arrows. You will need these questions before you search for journal articles. Share the concept map with your course instructor.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers web sites to: or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback Form.