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Comm 380 Public Speaking

Library research guide for Comm 380 (04:192:380)

Ask Yourself:

Is this a topic I have always wanted to know more about?

Does this topic meet the requirements of my project?


Select a topic you find interesting. If you find a topic compelling, the research and writing process may be more satisfying for you.

If you pick a problem or issue that is too general, you won't be able to adequately cover it in your assignment. If you select a problem or issue that is too narrow, you may have trouble finding helpful sources to inform your assignment.

Background Information Serves Many Purposes

  • If you are unfamiliar with the topic, it provides a good overview of the subject matter.
  • It helps you to identify important facts related to your topic such as terminology, dates, events, history, and relevant names or organizations.
  • It can help you refine your topic.
  • Background research might lead you to bibliographies that you can use to find additional sources of information.

Acquire Basic Knowledge and Consider:

What terms do you need to know to better understand this issue?

Who is affected by issue?

What are the main controversies associated with the issue?

Who are the key figures and organizations surrounding this issue?

What significant events have occurred related to this issue?

Contact a Librarian

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Sherri Farber
Alexander Library
Rutgers-New Brunswick
Information Literacy Instruction Librarian
SC&I Liaison

Research can be seen as a series of linked activities moving from a beginning to an end. It usually begins with the identification of a problem followed by formulation of research questions or objectives. The researcher determines what information to collect and how it will be analyzed in order to answer the research question.


Described in this way the research process seems linear, yet research is often an iterative (repeating) process. Decisions made early in the research process are often revisited in the light of new insights or practical problems encountered along the way.

The following reference and database resources are useful  to identify topics, overviews, background information, concepts, theories, ideas, and key references:

More Resources for Topic Ideas


Social Trends 

Pew Research Center


New York Times political coverage

Create your free NYT subscription account by clicking the link in the library website:

Science Developments

Science Daily

Technology Developments

Popular Mechanics

International News


The Journalist's Resource

National Public Radio

The Conversation

Interesting and Unusual Research Ideas


Local Issues

Daily Targum

Rutgers Today

The following books explore issues in a variety of areas. They can provide background information and an overview of the "conversation":


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