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Communication 103

Getting Started With Interpersonal Communication Research


Research Image


One of the biggest mistakes that students often make is selecting a topic that is much too broad for the scope of a 3-4 page paper or 10 minute presentation. Narrow it down; create a specific focus. For example, consider this: “Non-verbal communication” versus “Body Language used in flirtation” or “Conflict” versus “Sexual Harassment on the job.” One of the ways to narrow your focus is to consider the form and context of Interpersonal Communication that you want to explore. It is important to think about what aspects you are interested in.

For instance, consider:

  • Context: communication in school, at home, on a team or in a group, etc.
  • Type of relationship: family (parent-child, spouse, sibling), friendship, romantic, etc.
  • Purpose of communication: conflict resolution, persuasion, information gathering, etc.
  • Form of communication: verbal/nonverbal, writing, speech, instant messaging, etc.
  • Other influences: culture, race, age, gender, etc.

These ideas can become "key terms" that you can use for research. Before entering your "key terms" into a database, create a list of synonyms for them. For instance, a synonym for "nonverbal communication" would be "body language."

Search words and phrases

Here are a few general search terms and phrases to use when conducting research for Interpersonal Communication:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Communication theory
  • Communication skills

More keywords and concepts: 

· Self-esteem

· self-disclosure

· shyness

· communication in dysfunctional families

· assertiveness

· listening skills

· time management

· non-verbal communication

· image in communication

· language skills in communication

· problem-solving in interpersonal/small group

· communication

· conversational skills

· job interview skills

· perception and its effects on communication

· friendship and communication

· male/female communication

· communication and marriage

· organizational communication

· terminating relationships

· corporate culture

· media and communication

· stereotypes

· internet technology and communication

· political communication

· religious communication

· change and communication

· intercultural communication

The Research Process: Video

Check out this video and tutorial on the Research Process (click image to open):