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Academic and Professional Communications: Developing your research question

Academic & Professional Communications

Choose your topic

For this unit you need to choose a topic associated with your discipline. It must be in the form of:
 

The role of the [discipline professional or relevant issue] in [an aspect of your discipline]
 

Start by thinking about key issues in your discipline. If you need some ideas, try a broad keyword search in Google or Google Scholar, e.g. “women in sport”, “media reports on terrorism”, “body image”, " libraries and digital learning", "green architecture".
 

Google search results


Once you have found a topic of interest in your field of study, you can begin to develop your research question. 

Develop your question

Your research question will form the basis of your search strategy. As you develop your question, you will need to consider the amount and type of information available. Keep in mind that if your research question is too narrow it may be difficult to find enough scholarly information for your assignment. If it is too broad you may become overwhelmed by the amount of literature.

One way to get a quick overview of resources on your question is to conduct a preliminary search in the Curtin Library catalogue using keywords from your topic.

 

Curtin Library catalogue search results page

 

 

 

If, after conducting some preliminary searches, you find your research question is too narrow, you may need to broaden your approach. For example: you could modify the topic The role of politicians in communicating COVID-19 information to the Western Australian public to The role of politicians in communicating public health information.

 

Alternatively, if your topic is too broad, think about refining to a particular geographic region, time period, or population, or focusing on a particular aspect or issue. For example: you could focus the topic The role of the architect in creating a sustainable environment to The role of the architect in the development of sustainable urban housing.
 

 

Is your topic too recent?

It takes time to develop and disseminate scholarly content. Events which have occurred recently (in the last few months/year) will be unlikely to have much (if any) scholarly research available. You may need to alter your topic to look at the broader issue.