Previously communication as a field of study relied heavily on conclusions drawn from other social sciences fields. It has grown to be an area with its knowledge base, sets of theories, research methods, and several study specialties. Still, there are many knowledge gaps in communication that novice researchers can strive to fill, making this field of study greatly rewarding.
Communication research generally seeks to analyze the field of communication and mass media by looking into and helping people understand best communication practices that can help them achieve individual and organizational objectives.
A communications researcher evaluates challenging and complex communication events and explains how we can simplify them and integrate them into our daily routines like ordinary conversations.
Writing an excellent communications research paper can still be challenging even with this knowledge. It is a task that demands exemplary writing skills and solid planning and organizational skills.
Below are some pointers on how to write an excellent communications research paper.
Table of Contents
- Understand the Expectations of your Research Paper.
- Create an Outline for Your Research Paper.
- Select a Research Topic.
- Do your Research.
- Write an Introduction.
- Write the Body of the Paper.
- Conclude your Research Paper.
- Edit and Proofread.
Sometimes the most challenging part of writing a research paper is understanding the paper’s objective. Suppose the paper is a personal project and not a college assignment; you have to refer to other communication research papers for research guidelines. In most cases, this process is lengthy and confusing, especially for new communication researchers.
If you don’t understand your assignment and its objective, then you can’t proceed with writing your paper. In such cases, the best thing to do is to have a clearly defined strategy to help you learn the specific goal of your communications research paper.
Below are a few tips you can use.
- Read through the assignment and pay attention to the verbs used in the instructions. In many cases, verbs indicate actions you need to carry out in the undertaking of your research assignment.
- Seek the help of a communication expert. This is by far the simplest way to understand the expectations of your paper. Remember to ask all the necessary questions at this point to avoid going back and forth in the middle of the research and writing process.
- Understand your audience. The target audience of your research paper plays a huge role in defining the context of your assignment. If you learn who your audience is, follow the logic and work backward to define your research objective.
- Consult your peers. Sometimes, all you need is a fresh set of eyes to help you define the goal of your research paper.
Writing a communications research paper is a huge undertaking. Many times, the workload can be discouraging. For this reason, you must utilize any tool that can simplify your work and make the writing process efficient. An outline is one such tool. An outline helps you organize your ideas and get an overview of everything you need to begin and complete your research paper.
Below are steps to follow when writing an outline for your research paper in communication.
- Write down all the initial ideas you have on the paper.
- Organize these ideas into sub-categories using the basic headlines of a communications research paper like the introduction, literature review, body, and conclusion
- If your ideas are well-thought, arrange them logically by answering questions like the focus of your research paper, which ideas should go to the introduction, and which are best for the conclusion.
- Develop subheadings to help you understand which ideas fall under which sub-category
- Format your outline in decimal or full-sentence format
Selecting a topic for your research paper in communication is the most defining step of writing your paper. The topic dictates the research direction and the overall scope of your work. For this reason, you must give this step the seriousness it deserves. If you are not writing your paper based on an instructor’s guidelines, it’s best to begin the topic selection process by reviewing available communications material in your area of interest. Remember that the quality of your research paper reflects your level of interest in the subject.
Suppose you do not have an area of communication you are particularly interested in. In that case, there are other ways to select the appropriate topic for your research paper in communication, as explained below.
- Availability of sources – evidence is the backbone of every research paper. Select a topic in an area with sufficient information to back up your arguments.
- Career path – if you are looking to major in one of the several subfields of communication like public relations, marketing, intercultural communication, or public administration, then consider a topic that will contribute to the body of knowledge in that specific field.
- Available time – college assignments usually have a timeframe for submitting your paper. Even for a personal project, you must stipulate a timeframe you expect to have completed your research paper. Ensure you select a topic that you can research conclusively within the available time
- Unique and innovative communications fields – the topic selection is where you express your creativity by focusing on a less popular area. Please note that you still need to have sufficient sources of evidence even when researching unique topics.
Simply having a topic is not enough to have you dive into gathering information and noting key points. It would help if you had a solid plan to avoid ending in an endless cycle of trial and error. Ultimately, this is called having a research plan. A good research plan for a research paper in communication consists of specific questions that will guide your research step-by-step.
Additionally, a good research plan combines several qualitative research questions like exploratory, comparative or descriptive questions to ensure you conduct thorough research and produce well-rounded arguments for your paper. Remember to evaluate other literature in the communication field you are studying to learn how other researchers answered similar questions in your research plan.
As you work through your research, ensure that you choose the appropriate research methodology for your paper. In communication research, you can use observational, derived, and experimental or combine two methods to gather data.
The final step of your research is to analyze the data collected and to develop theories that explain to your readers the significance or impact of that specific topic in communication
There are two major functions of an introduction to a research paper. The first is to provide the reader with the relevant information regarding your paper, and the other is to pique the reader’s attention by explaining why your research matters.
Here are some things to remember when looking to write an effective introduction to your research paper.
- Explain how your paper will contribute to filling the knowledge gap in that field of communication
- State the significance and relevance of your study in the wider communication field of study
- Give a brief overview of the approach and design used in collecting data for research.
The body of your paper is where you expound on the key findings of your research. This section builds your theories around the main topic by explaining and analyzing your research rather than just reporting. Remember to integrate verifiable evidence into your discussion and organize your work logically into paragraphs, each representing a different idea.
When writing the body of your paper, remember to highlight the following:
- The major findings of your research
- The knowledge gap that your research set to address with the paper and how you have achieved this objective
- Any contradicting information or multiple interpretations or conclusions within the paper. Explain each interpretation clearly.
- How do your arguments compare to those of other researchers in similar communication fields?
- Conclusions of your study that create opportunities for further research
Use the conclusion section to summarize the main points and recap the thesis statement. If you are yet to state the significance of your study, a conclusion is a right point to do so. After, analyze your research by providing results and suggestions for your arguments.
Remember that a conclusion should not just restate the information already in the introduction. Instead, use the conclusion to reflect on the paper’s revelations and offer the reader a new perspective. Avoid using repetitive statements like ‘in conclusion’, or ‘to summarize this paper’. Be creative in your delivery but remember not to use complex language that may confuse the reader.
Your research paper in communication is not complete until you edit and proofread. To edit, pay attention to the wider aspects of the text, like the paragraph and sentence structure. Ensure that each paragraph presents a different idea and conclusively answers every part of the question.
When editing, also ensure that paragraphs begin with thesis statements and that the paper has the proper overall structure.
To proofread rectify errors in punctuations, fonts, citations, and page numbering.
After editing and proofreading, go through your paper several times. If everything is as required, you may submit it.