7 Researching Your Speech

Kristin Woodward, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Learning Objectives

  • Select information sources that present multiple perspectives on your research topic
  • Perform keyword searches appropriate to you topic
  • Students are able to assign proper attribution and citations using APA Citation Style

The following learning resources and exercises will guide you through a research process and help you to explore a variety of information sources.  This research process can be used to identify information sources for a variety of speech types. For best results, use your current speech assignment as the topic for each of the recommended learning exercises. Your instructor may assign a specific forum in which to share your work from each activity (in-class activities and discussions, D2L discussion posts, or D2L Dropbox reflections.) All of the resources you see in this chapter can be found on the UWM Libraries guide to research for Communication 103 http://guides.library.uwm.edu/comm103.

How to Search

When you are researching your speech topic, planning your search strategy will allow you to define the scope of your search. In other words, it will allow you to determine which aspects of a big topic you will research so that you can focus your search for information sources. The first step is to break a larger topic down into smaller manageable chunks. Next you will want to identify the concepts you will need to include in your search. These concepts will be most useful if they help you add perspectives to your search.

Exercise 1

LEARNING ACTIVITY: Make a list of everything you already know about this topic. List one thing about this topic you are unsure of and one aspect that interests you.


Concept Map
Concept Map


LEARNING ACTIVITY: Organizing your search: A Mind Map is a type of graphic organizer that will allow you to visualize the elements of your topic. Use the Mind Map to help you structure your online search. Download a blank mind map and develop a graphic organizer for your own speech topic. Work with a partner to discuss the concepts you have identified and ask for feedback and suggestions to help you explore the topic.

Getting Background Information

Another strategy for organizing your search for information, is to consult sources of  background information that will help you establish facts, theories, vocabulary and other elements of your topic.  CQ Researcher provides authoritative in-depth, unbiased reports of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy.

Exercise 2

Example of a CQ Researcher report

Learning Activity

Search CQ Researcher for some of the concepts in your research topic. For example, medical marijuana, opioid addiction, refugee crisis, online privacy or domestic drones.  Find a report that addresses your topic.  Write a brief summary of the issues discussed in this report.

Learning Activity
Select a report in CQ Researcher that discusses your topic or issues related to your topic. Choose a source from the report’s Bibliography section. Find this source by following the links provided in the bibliography or use Search@UW to find the source at UWM. Write a brief reflection on this new source. What new perspective is presented in the source you selected from the bibliography? How might this source help you present this topic or issue to your audience?

Finding Neutral Sources

Now that you have organized your search and reviewed some background information in CQ Researcher, you will want to think about additional information sources that will help you develop your speech topic. Whether your purpose is to educate your audience, support an argument, persuade or propose a solution to a problem, you will want to identify sources that lend credibility to your presentation. You will also want to make sure that you research the whole topic, not just one part or one perspective.

Exercise 3

An image showing effective search keywords.
Effective Search Keywords by Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System CC BY 4.0


Learning Activity

When you develop your search strategy think about what you want to know about the topic. If you are educating your audience about opioid addiction, will you address the costs of opioid addiction to the community? Your search terms might be: opioid addiction  public cost. Jot down the aspects of your topic you would like to address for your audience. Create two to three sets of search terms to express these specific aspects of your search.  

Learning Activity

View the Neutral Sources video. Reflecting on the strategies described in the video for selecting a source that discusses multiple aspects of a topic, then use Search@UW to search for your speech topic.  Identify a source that will help you persuade, educate, or propose a solution for your audience, but also includes a robust discussion of your topic. Write a brief summary of the way you will use this source.

Citing Sources

Citations give credit to those whose ideas have contributed to your research and give your readers enough information to locate the sources you used. There are many ways to format citations. The style you choose depends on your field and the requirements set by your professor or publisher. In these examples, we will use APA Style. The template shows the elements of the citation required for proper APA style, the order in which each element appears in the citation, and the punctuation you will use to define each element. The examples show how typical books and article would be cited following this pattern.

Exercise 4

A citation or reference is the information given in a bibliography or a database about a particular title, which often includes:

Learning Activity
Select a book or an article from your database searches. Looking carefully at the citation as it is listed in the database, list all the parts of the citation. For additional support identifying the parts of a citation from a journal article, database record and other sources, see Finding Key Citation Information.

Template of APA Style Citation for Books
Template of APA Style Citation for Books


APA Style Citations for Articles
APA Style Citations for Articles


Learning Activity

After identifying the elements of the citation for at least three of your sources, use the Template for Books or the Template for Articles to write an APA style citation. Check your list of elements to ensure you were able to place each element in the citation correctly. Share your formatted citations with a partner in class or via the discussion board. Ask for feedback on the formatting. Additional examples of APA Style Citations can be found using the APA Publication Manual available from the UWM Libraries or online guides like the OWL at Purdue.





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